Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Creamy Ginger Carrot Soup with Lemon Cream


The wind is howling outside. The rain slashes against the windows.

I am sitting in my warm living room sunk deep into the huge read couch in the living room. A few aroma candles flicker on the table next to me and I am deep into Bill Clinton's ...

... book, My Life!

I reach out for my cosy "feel-good" sweatshirt. You know the one we all have and always wear, hate to put it in the wash because a day without it is unimaginable. Exactly that one! Suddenly I hear it. A distant rumbling. Was that thunder? Probably. There it is again. No, that is not thunder it's coming from inside. It gets a bit louder and this time I feel it too.

The very familiar tummy rumbles. Well it is almost time for dinner. But slogging in the kitchen does not appeal to me today. I want to get back to my book but still have a warm, soul-satisfying and hunger-killing meal.

My refrigerator tells me I have to be extremely creative to serve up that kind of meal today. Well, hey, creativity is my middle name and I take out what I find.

What I do find is a lot of ginger that needs to be used. Why do I have all that ginger? Oh yes I remember! Rosie is the host of this month's Jihva for Ingredients and she chose a lovely ingredient to use - Ginger. I guess when I read that I went out and decided to buy out the grocery store!!


Ginger
Ginger is incredibly aromatic, pungent and full of flavor. It zests up foods and is extensively used all over the world. You will find it in the fresh produce section of the grocery store and it is available throughout the year.

Ginger is a native to southeastern Asia, where this wonderful spicy herb is used in the regional cuisines creating delectable recipes enjoyed throughout the world. However, it is not only limited to this region or Asian cuisine. Ginger is a versatile spice and can be used in many types of cuisine - sweet and savory.

The spice ginger is actually the underground rhizome of the ginger plant and botanically referred to as Zingiber officinale. The plant's botanical name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name "singabera" which means "horn shaped," which is exactly the outer characteristic of ginger.


Depending on the type of ginger, the flesh can be yellow, white or red in color. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young.

Today the top producers of this exceptional spice are India, Jamaica, Indonesia and Australia.

Health Benefits
Ginger is actually the ultimate in healthy eating. It warms the internal organs, eases depression, and cures ailments from colds to nausea.
In the Indian Ayurvedic medicine, great emphasis is placed on the healing powers of foods, herbs and spices and each dish is planned with medicinal benefits in mind.
Ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in relieving symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Ginger is very often used in herbal medicine and contains a substance that promotes the elmination of intestinal gas. This wonder spice also possesses many therapeutic properties. This includes antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory effects.

Selecting and Storing
Choose fresh ginger over the dried form. Fresh ginger truly brings the strong robust flavor to your dishes. Ground ginger makes a smoother curry paste. Make sure that the ginger is firm, smooth and and free from mold. Ginger can be purchased in two forms - mature and young. Mature ginger is more widely available and has a tougher outer skin, which needs to be peeled. The younger type is normally only available in Asian markets, is delicate and does not require peeling.

Fresh unpeeled ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. When stored unpeeled in the freezer, it will keep for up to six months.

Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Alternatively, you can store it in the refrigerator where it will last for about one year.

When frying, use chopped ginger over crushed as this creates a wider surface for the oil to penetrate.

A unique way of storing ginger is to bury it in sand. It can be used as required and is said to continue to grow in the meantime, giving you a continuous supply.

More on ginger here.

I found organic carrots, sour cream and organic lemons too. Off to work I went.





Ingredients:

600g carrots - peeled and cut into bite size cubes.
1 large onion - chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger - finely chopped
25g unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic - minced
675 ml stock
finely grated zest of one lemon
55ml sour cream
fresh chives - chopped





Method:

Melt butter in a large heavy pot. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes until soft. Put in the ginger and garlic and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the chopped carrots to the pot and sauté for a few minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until carrots are tender.

In a small bowl combine the sour cream and the grated lemon rest. Cover and cool in the fridge.

Allow the soup to cool, then pureé the soup. Return the soup to the heat and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a quick boil. Just before serving add some more fresh ginger.

Pour the soup in bowls and place a dollop of the lemon cream in the middle of the soup. Garnish with chives.





Verdict:
This is a spicy, aromatic and wonderfully flavorful soup. Forget any carrot soup you have tasted before. The ginger combined with the tangy lemon cream brings bursts of different tastes to your senses.
Soeren ladled bowlfuls of the soup and could not get enough. Healthy and nutritious all the way. Tom was struck by the delectable harmony of aromas. Brings joy to watch them enjoy something that was so easy to make.

And that rumble? Oh it stopped complaining at the first spoonful.



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Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Shop!


I've done it! I now am an owner of my very own shop. I have been thinking about this for quite sometime, researching, checking, hesitating ... you know the whole platter of feelings and thoughts. In the end my family, friends and even a few blog buddies pushed me to do it and convinced me.

What am I on about?


Over Christmas I made calendars for many of my friends and family members and to my surprise they were so impressed.

A few of my readers also mentioned in certain mails to me that a calendar with a few of my photos would look great. That is when the idea struck me and I decided to design a calendar with a few of my photographs. I am not great when it comes to selling things (that is why I chose Marketing over Sales!), but if you are interested you now have the opportunity to purchase this calendar.

The wall calendar contains a lovely set of photos, some already published on the blog others are exclusive and not yet posted. The pictures are displayed in the slide show here. If you like my photos and would like to bring a bit of my passion to your homes, you now have the chance to order the calendar. That is the jewel of the selection.

I have also created a few other items you might find interesting, like the Sweet Love greeting card especially for Valentine's Day. These greeting cards are on limited offer and won't be available after February)

Just browse through Meeta's Pix at CafePress.

Cafe Press accepts all major credit cards and ships internationally. You will just need to pay special attention to the shipping prices to your relevant countries.

To access the shop easily I have created a link on the sidebar. If there is a special photograph you like and would like it as a postcard, poster, framed print please just let me know and I can provide this for you. Furthermore, I would love your feedback on this, so let me know what you think of the calendar and the other items.

I hope you enjoy them!


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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Soufflé - The Fluffy Dream!



I had a dream the other night. I was floating on a fluffy cloud, looking down at lovely green pastures. There were sheep frolicking and grazing on these rich green fields. Their woolly fur reminding me of the clouds around me. I woke the next morning feeling relaxed and exhilarated. Wonders what a dream like that does!

The whole day went by and I was just so mellow the entire day nothing seemed to rock me. Not even when Soeren came running to me in the supermarket, where we were buying a few things for dinner, and urgently announced he had to go to the loo - BADLY. I asked if he could hold it because there was no place in the supermarket to take him and he said yes. So, when at the cashiers he said "Mum I really need to go now!" I just responded "we are almost done!"

As I saw a small puddle build up around Soeren's feet, I looked at his so very embarrassed and disappointed face. I just smiled, hugged him and whispered that these things happen. Normally, this would have broken me out into a hectic stress, running to the cashier's apologizing and asking for something to clean up the mess. But this time I told the cashier's what had happened and she smiled at Soeren and said she would take care of it.

I learned a lesson that day.


Breaking out into an uncool hectic stress, irritates people around you and causes them to react unfriendly and equally stressed out. By keeping my cool I not only showed Soeren that it was OK when accidents like that happen and the effect rubbed off on the cashier and the people around me. Everyone was kind of sympathetic towards Soeren and me as the mum.

For the record, even in my normal mood I would have never shouted at Soeren for the mishap. For some reason it would have just embarrassed me to react like a clichéd stressed out mum. Now I know better.



Anyway, when I got home I looked into my shopping basket and smiled. In honor of this wonderful dream and the lessons I learned because of it I decided to make a special dinner.

A light and fluffy soufflé - how appropriate. The herbs in my basket represented the green pastures, the goat's cheese - the sheep and the light and fluffiness of the soufflé was my ode to the clouds.


Events on WFLH:

Blogger Postcards Around The World - Happy Valentine's
Registration is now officially closed!
Check out who's on the Valentine's List


Monthly Mingle - Sweet Love
Deadline: February 8, 2007






Ingredients:



1/2 bunch of mixed herbs of choice - finely chopped
2 eggs - separated
125g quark. A substitute for this would be ricotta cheese.
125g Goat's cream cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
a dash of Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon butter
3 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs



Method:



Preheat oven at 210 degrees Celsius.
In a mixing bowl beat egg yolks with the quark/ricotta, goat's cream cheese, oil, flour and Tabasco. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the herbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Using a metal spoon fold the whites into the herb/cheese mixture gently.

Butter four ramekin bowls and sprinkle a bit of the breadcrumbs around the inside. This helps you to take tthe soufflé out of the bowl a more easily.

Place in the oven on the rack second from the bottom. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve the soufflé with a tomato salad, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with some Italian herb mixture.

Makes 4 soufflés.



Verdict:

At dinner we told Tom what had happened. I told him about my dream and the reason for the soufflés for dinner. We toasted to many more of such dreams and tucked into the soufflé.



The combination of the herbs and the goat's cheese is truly incredible. Mixed together in a light and fluffy soufflé it was what all dreams are made of. Depending on the herbs you use and the sharpness of the cheese you can create a different flavor each time you make it.

As Tami over at Running With Tweezers is having a "hay day" with soufflés, maybe she'd like mine too ;-).



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Monday, January 22, 2007

Bollywood Cooking: India - The Home of Spices




There is no other country in the world that produces as many kinds of spices as India. So, it is not very surprising that India is known as the "Home of Spices". The country's climate is perfect and very suitable for almost all types of spices. These spices are important for the country from the point of view of both domestic consumption and export.

Indian spices are well known all over the world and cherished for their culinary value, tangy and aromatic flavors. They play a very important role in Indian cooking. Indians spice up their food, teas, drinks, sweets not only for the exquisite flavor it lends the dish but also due to the medicinal values they provide. We Indians believe that spices not only zest up the food but your life too!



These spices can be combined in amounts to make specific spice mixtures used in everyday cooking. A very well known spice mixture is the Garam Masala. The word garam means hot, not "hot" as in spicy chili hot, but due to the fact that the spices blended in the mixture are said to increase the body temperature.

Masala is a word very commonly used in Indian cooking and is simply the Hindi word for "spice." So, whenever a combination of spices, herbs and other condiments are ground or blended together, it is called masala.

You can have a wet masala, which includes water, yogurt or other liquids to the ground spices making it into a more paste like consistency. These are often used to marinate meats, vegetables and fish or are sautéed in oil before adding the main vegetable or meat. This helps the delicate blend of flavors release their aromas into the recipe.

Then there are the common powdered blend of spices. These can be bought in any Indian store or well stocked supermarket and depending on the quality, these can have a very good flavor and are comfortable to use.

The whole masalas often includes, as the name suggests, whole spices such as whole cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and black peppercorns. These are fried in hot oil before other wet ingredients such as onions, garlic or ginger are added.

The classic Indian curry often combines the following spices - coriander, turmeric, cumin, ginger, garlic as well as other spices.

My mum, nani (grandmum) and my masis (aunts) and probably many Indian housewives around the world store their spices in what is called a masala dabba - an Indian spice box. This spice box is round and made of stainless steel with seven individual stainless steel bowls. It comes with a small measuring teaspoon and must have a tight fitting lid in between the compartment for the bowls and the main lid. This ensures that the spices do not get all mixed up.

Each bowl is filled with the seven most favorite and most commonly used spices in the household. I admit I do not have such a wonderful spice box, but have it on my wish list for the next time I am in Dubai or India.

For the first Bollywood Cooking session I thought I would introduce you to some of the different spices used in Indian cooking. It is not necessary to stock up on each spice mentioned here but having the basic spices in your kitchen will help to make certain Indian dishes in a breeze.



The Basic Spices
There are a few basic spices in Indian cuisine that go into most dishes. Often a very basic vegetable dish is made by adding cumin or mustard seeds and asafetida in some hot ghee (clarified butter) or oil until they sizzle and pop. Then the vegetables are added and steamed.


Cumin seeds - whole and powder:
This is mainly used in North Indian food and is used for its strong distinctive taste. When roasted, whole cumin seeds release more of the aroma and gives the dish a sweet flavor. Cumin seed powder lends a sweet and mild flavor to a dish and is one of the main ingredients in the Garam Masala.
Hindi name - Jeera


Coriander seeds - whole and powder:
Mainly used for its fresh, soothing and cooling taste, coriander seeds are very light weight and have a mild flavor. Although they come form the same plant, they should not be mixed up with cilantro. In powder form it is an indispensable spice in the spice box. The aromatic fragrance of the roasted coriander powder enhances the taste of any dish.
Hindi name - Dhaniya


Turmeric powder:
This is mainly used in Indian dishes for its medicinal properties and for the gorgeous intensive color it gives to the dishes. It is mildly aromatic and has a delicate scent of ginger. Turmeric is a wonder spice and is used throughout Asia to treat cases of stomach and liver ailments. It is also used exteranally to heal sores and in cosmetics. As a matter of fact one of my childhood memories of my mum is her in her weekly turmeric, sandalwood and honey face masks - LOL!
Hindi name - Haldi


Chili powder:
The Indian chili powder is made from ground chilies and is often hotter that the chili powder available in the US/European stores. It has a pungent, hot aroma with a strong bite to it.
Hindi name - Lal Mirch


Asafetida:
This is often used as a digestive. It has a strong odor and a slight garlicky flavor. Do not taste this raw - it is NOT a pleasant experience. Using it in the recommended recipe however, works wonders. Just a pinch is used for cooking in dishes with lentils and beans.
Hindi name - Hing


Black mustard seeds:
In India the black mustard seeds are preferred over the larger yellow ones found in the western world. It has a strong but pleasing flavor and known for its digestive qualities. Mustard seeds are used in India to flavor vegetables, pulses and pickles.
Hindi name - Mohri


Garam Masala:
The mixture may include a variety of ingredients from cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, poppy seeds, saffron, pepper, chilies, and black cumin seeds and more. It can be used whole or in powdered form. It is often added at the end of cooking, so that the full aroma is not lost. Here is an interesting recipe, if you want to give making your own Garam Masala a go.



Complementary Spices
In our vegetable dish from above, a complementary spice, like fennel or nigella seeds may be added. The dish may be flavored with ginger and sprinkled with turmeric and coriander powder.


Fennel Seeds:
Although this is a basic Indian spice, it is not essential. It is mainly used in North Indian cuisine and posses digestive qualities. If you often visit Indian restaurants you will find these coated with colored sugar and offered after meals as a mouth freshener. Fennel seeds are also often used to spice up teas and drinks.
Hindi name - Saunf


Fenugreek seeds:
This spice, which is actually a lentil, is used throughout India for the distinctive flavor it gives the dish and for its wonderful healthful properties. As a matter of fact, after turmeric, fenugreek seeds is the most medically useful item in an Indian kitchen.
Hindi name - Methi


Nigella Seeds:
Also known as onion seeds, these are often used in North India to enhance vegetable dishes. Toasting the seeds briefly brings out the flavor. Oh ... and no they are not really seeds from onions.
Hindi name - Kalonji


Carom seeds:
These have a strong peppery-thyme flavor. This poppy seed like plant comes from the lovage plant. It is very popular in North Indian cooking. It is used in preparing many Indian vegetables and pulses.
Hindi name - Ajwain


Aromatic Secondary Spices
Going back to our vegetable dish, you can choose to additionally add any of these secondary spices to jazz it up. Before adding the vegetables, add chopped onions, tomatoes and herbs to the spices above. Now you can add any of the secondary spices. Then add the vegetables and steam with a bit of water.


Green Cardamom - whole and powder
This is used throughout India to flavor curries, vegetables, rice, dessert and the ever famous masala chai.
The pod itself is neutral in flavor, it is the brown sticky seed inside the pod that gives that wonderful flavor. The pods should be kept whole, as ground cardamom quickly loses flavor. It is recommended to grind small quantities at home using a coffee mill. When a recipe calls for whole cardamom, the pods should be cracked open slightly to release the full flavor of the spice. This is such a versatile spice and is often used to flavor many desserts and cakes as well as savory dishes.
Hindi name - Choti Elaichi


Black Cardamom:
This is larger in size and darker in color. It is often used to flavor meat, poultry and rice dishes. The spice is coarser in flavor than the green variety. The inner seeds are often one of the spices used in Garam Masala
Hindi name - Kala Elaichi


Cinnamon Sticks:
It is the bark of the cassia tree that is mostly used in India. The real cinnamon stick, as we know it, found in most supermarkets have a more delicate flavor than the Cassia bark. Cinnamon sticks lend the dish a sweet and mellow flavor. In India it is often used in many curries and puloas to give the dish a rich flavor.
Hindi name - Dalchini


Cloves - whole and powder:
Cloves are strong, pungent, and sweet. They are used in many meat dishes, marinades, pickles and in many garam masalas. Cloves are used whole or in powder form. In India clove oil is also used due to its medicinal value. Many Indians chew on cloves to relieve toothaches and it is used also as a mouth freshener after a meal.
Hindi name - Laung


Nutmeg
This is usually used in powdered form, grated freshly using a whole nutmeg. Often it is used to flavor Indian sweets, but may be used in some savory dishes.

Finally there a few other spices and flavorings used in the Indian kitchen. These all help to add a special tastes and seasonings to the dish. Most households probably already have them stocked in their pantries.

Garlic
Ginger
Bay Leaves
Black Peppercorns
Saffron
Fresh mint leaves
Curry leaves
Coconut - fresh, dried and milk

In most Western countries, our complex formulas of dried and fresh spices are often substituted by simple dry powder mixtures like the yellow curry powder. It is a myth to believe that this invention is used in any Indian household. As a matter of fact this powder mixture was invented by the British who, when they left India after the British Raj, craved the wonderful flavorings of the dishes they had enjoyed. Loosely interpreted the name is probably derived from curry as in gravy.

Indian food is almost always prepared with fresh ingredients accompanied with the delicate combination of many fresh and dried spices. The exact recipes often vary from one household to another.

I really do hope I was able to bring you a little closer to the multitude of spices used in traditional Indian cooking. For me, it was always so very tedious to figure out what spice and spice mixture is used when and where. However, as I started to enjoy cooking Indian food more at home I put together this list to help me understand the larger value behind each spice. The flavorings, aromas and the medicinal benefits it lends the dish.

It was my mother who explained the usage of each spice category - from basic to complementary to secondary - by using the exact same example of the vegetable dish I have provided here for you too. This one simple example changed all my misconceptions about Indian cooking being too complicated.

I hope I was able to do the same for you.


Events on WFLH:

Blogger Postcards Around The World - Happy Valentine's
Registration deadline: January 24, 2007
Check out who's on the Valentine's List


Monthly Mingle - Sweet Love
Deadline: February 8, 2007






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Saturday, January 20, 2007

BPW - The Valentine's List

Greek Sunset on Flickr

This is the official list for BPW - Valentine's Postcard.

I am so glad to see so many names of folks who took part last time. There are also quite a few new ones around - welcome to the fun.

You'll be able to check the status here at every stage of the event. Keep tabs of all the registrations as they come in and see who has sent or received the postcards. I also hope this will help you to make new friends like it did for many of us the last time.

To help you get to this easily I have placed it on the sidebar just under the Monthly Mingle section.

Don't forget everyone needs to have their postcards ready to mail on January 29th. This is also the day you blog about the postcard being sent off WITHOUT revealing the name of the recipient. Please read the rules in more detail here.

Update March 22, 2007

Can you believe it - there are still BPW posctards whizzing their way through the world. Really! Just received emails from two lovely ladies who finally received theirs after all these weeks. Thank ou for your patience! Those still to receive, hang in there yours is also on its way! Those of you who have received your cards, please do not forget to inform me. If you already have and I seem to have missed updating your name, please remind me again ;-)

46 of 60 Bloggers have received their cards!

Bloggers registered: 60
Registrations are now closed for this round of BPW



  1. Ulrike Westphal - Küchenlatein

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  2. Tanna Jones - My Kitchen In Half Cups

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  3. Isis - Yambalaya

    Postcard sent

  4. Sumitha Babu - Kitchen Wonders

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  5. Ellie Won - Kitchen Wench

    Postcard sent

  6. Diane Howard - Comestible Creations

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  7. Ekta Kaur - Through Our Eyes

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  8. Freya and Paul Erickson - Writing At The Kitchen Table

    Postcard sent

  9. Brilynn Ferguson - Jumbo Empanadas

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  10. Ilva Beretta - Lucullian Delights

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  11. Suzannah Hall - Sue Knits

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  12. Gillian Hennessey-Macfarlane - Humble Pie

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  13. Barbie2be - Barbie2be

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  14. Huei Jean LIM - Tidbits

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  15. Astrid Rauscher - Paulchens FoodBlog

    Postcard sent

    Postcard received

  16. Jenny Hulme - All Things Edible

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  17. Anita Crotty - Married ...with Dinner

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  18. Ivonne Mellozzi - Cream Puffs in Venice

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  19. Sally Capotosto - Tip of the Iceberg

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  20. Ricky Singh - Kaarindah

    Postcard sent
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  21. Lisa - La Mia Cucina

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  22. Anni Kase - Life is a Banquet

    Postcard sent

  23. I-Ling Chua - Feed Me! I'm Hungry!!

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  24. Rachel Rubin - Rachel's Bite

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  25. Swee San Lim - A Self Proclaimed Foodaholic

    Postcard sent

  26. Tatiana Damberg - Mixirica

    Postcard sent

  27. Susanne Fritzsche - Creative.Mother.Thinking

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  28. Padmaja Kochera - Spicyandhra

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  29. Plume - Multiple

    Postcard sent Currently in French - will be translated.
    Postcard received

  30. Andrew Barrow - SpittoonExtra

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  31. Helen McSweeney - Tartelette

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  32. Realina LE FLOHIC - Franco Pinay Food Adventure

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  33. Gerda Haunschmid - Dinner for One

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  34. Brandon Fox - Brandon Eats

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  35. Arfi Binsted - HomeMadeS

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  36. Rushina Munshaw - Ghildiya - A Perfect Bite

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  37. Kate Pounder - Veggie Friendly

    Postcard sent

  38. Jen Stewart - Jenny Sais Quoi

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  39. Dianne Prior - A Gluten Free Journey

    Postcard sent

  40. Astra Soul - Storytellers

    Postcard sent

  41. Ed Charles - Tomato

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  42. Nicole King - For the Love of Food

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  43. Mari Gordon - Mevrouw Cupcake

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  44. Shaheen - Malabar Spices

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  45. Mia Vaessen - Nosh

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  46. Smitha Nair - Kadumanga

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  47. Stephanie Bunn - Dispensing Happiness

    Card sent An inside joke ;-)
    Postcard received

  48. Dhivya Ravi - Thats Y Food

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  49. Michelle Ginée - Blog van een obsessieve "trut"

    Postcard sent

  50. Chelsea Greigh - Bon Vivant

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  51. Melissa Grant - Hecticium

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  52. Anna Fedeles - Morsels & Musings

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  53. Marie-Laure Tombini - Autres délices

    Postcard sent

  54. Sarina Nicole Bland - TriniGourmet

    Poscard sent

  55. Elizabeth McNally - Spice Girl

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  56. Glenna Muse - A Fridge Full of Food

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  57. Amanda Leach - Paris Postdoc

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  58. Michelle Biehl - Je Mange la Ville

    Postcard Sent

  59. Rinku Bhattacharya - Cooking In Westchester

    Postcard sent
    Postcard received

  60. Nandita Iyer - Saffron Trail

    Postcard sent




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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Flavors of Italy - Turkey Caprese


Bella Italia! It's not something new when I tell you once again how much I love Italy. Everything about the country fits my personality, likings and character - except for the language. My Italian is very rusty and I can possibly just order enough food to get me from A to B. But that is more than enough in Italy as I always realize. The people are warm and affectionate and welcome everyone with open arms.

Many of my friends joke around and say I must have been an Italian mama in my previous life - due to my passion for cooking Italian food at home.

After the days of eating rich and filling food over the holidays we are craving for simple yet flavorful meals. Dishes that are quick to make but are still full of aroma are currently the trend in my kitchen.



What I love about this recipe, besides it being a breeze to make, is that everything about it shouts out ITALY in capital letters. The colors of the ingredients remind me of the colorful Italian flag, with the pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil the flavor cannot get more Italian.

Let me just stop going on about it and get to the recipe. Hope you enjoy your ride to Italy with me!!


Events on WFLH:

Blogger Postcards Around The World - Happy Valentine's
Registration deadline: January 24, 2007


Monthly Mingle - Sweet Love
Deadline: February 8, 2007





Music while cooking


Eros Ramazzotti - Fuoco Nel Fuoco
Album: Stile Libero





Ingredients:

500g Turkey breast - cut into 6-8 small steak-type medallions
250g Mozzarella - sliced
3 tomatoes - coarsely chopped
3-4 tablespoons Pesto alla Genovese
2-3 basil stems - leaves chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil - extra virgin
salt and pepper




Method:

In a large pan heat up the olive oil. Place the steaks into the pan and fry on one side for about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste then flip it on the other side. Add the pesto in the pan. Place the tomato pieces and mozzarella slices on top of the turkey. Cover the pan and cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Place the turkey breasts on pre-warmed plates and sprinkle with basil leaves. Serve with fresh ciabatta bread.



Verdict:

A perfect little dinner time meal to end the day. Together with a good chianti and warming fire a great start into a romantic evening.

A wonderful dish for the Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Scott from RealEpicurean.


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blogger Postcards Around The World #2 - Happy Valentine's


Before I go into this post I just want to let everyone know that the winners of the Menu For Hope III have been announced over at Chez Pim's. I am waiting for Jen the Bread Freak to contact me, as she is the lucky winner of my prize. Thank you to all those who bidded and Jen congratulations to you! The final amount raised was a whopping $60,925.12.

The very long awaited second Blogger Postcards Around the World - BPW is here!

The first BPW was absolutely fantastic and ever since then I have received so many emails asking me when I'll be hosting the next one. For those of you who are new around here or missed the first one here is a bit about the event.

It's a way for Bloggers all around the world to get a little closer with each other the old fashioned way - by sending postcards to each other via snail mail. The clou - the receiver does not know from whom she/he will receive their postcard. Exciting!


This time however I have added a little twist to the event. A theme. Don't we all love getting Valentine's cards? You got it! That is the theme for this BPW - Happy Valentine's! You have buy or make a Valentine's postcard for your postcard partner. Like the idea?

Before I get to the details I need to get a few things said first. There were a few things the last time round that did not run as smoothly as it should have.

  • We had a few bloggers who registered for the event and received addresses of their postcard partner but failed to send them cards. That is a huge disappointment for your postcard partner. I tried making it up to them by sending them a card from me. But it really is not the aim of the game. Therefore, I didn't do it the last time, however this time I will keep a blacklist. I know it sounds dramatic but as this event will be a re-occurring one, I need to keep a list of people who kind of spoil the game, for the next round. So, those who will play unfair will be blacklisted from the next round. I also understand that things in life happen unexpectedly. If there is for some reason you cannot send a postcard please inform me. This way I have enough time to react and look for a new postcard partner.

  • There were also quite a few who did not send me the permalinks to their sent and/or received postcards. This is also a very important part of the event. All those taking part are curious to see what the postcard, you are sending, looks like and want to know if the ones they sent have been received. So, please do blog about these. Those who don't will also land up on the black list.

  • If you have several blogs, please only send me the link/permalink to the blog you plan on posting on.

  • The last time we had over 60 participants! It involved a huge amount of administrative work. Therefore, this time I really will need to be very strict on the rules. Those who do not submit the exact information required in the details below will not be included. Please do not get offended. Last time I had to send many people mails asking them for various things they had forgotten to include - yes, even their postal addresses. Once again I remind you this involves sending in your postal addresses - no address nowhere to send you a postcard.

  • Last but not least a critique for myself. I was rather slow in updating the list. This time I intend to do a better job of it and if I do forget please just send me a reminder.
Here is how the BPW works:

Everyone
To officially take part in this event you will need to register yourself. This also applies for all those who took part in the BPW the last time. I will need:

Name and Surname:
Complete postal address:
Name of Blog:
Blog URL (where you plan to blog about the postcards) :
Email address:

Send this information per email to: blogmeeta@gmail.com. In the subject field of your email please enter the following: BPW Registration - your name surname

You have till January 24, 2007 - 12 AM CET to register yourself. After this I will not accept any further registrations.

By Friday, January 26, 2007 I will mail the addresses of your postcard recipient to each of you.

Senders
On January 29, 2007 everyone needs to get to the post office, get their Valentine's postcard stamped and sent off to their secret postcard partner.
Before you do that though, please do not forget to take a picture of the postcard and blog about it on your blog without revealing the name of the recipient. Please link back to this page. Once you have blogged about it send me the permalink to your posts per email. In the subject field of your email please include: Postcard sent - your name and surname.

Now sit back and wait.

Recipients
Once you receive your Valentine's postcard you will need to take a picture of it and blog about it. Link back to the sender of your postcard and to this page. Then send me the permalink of this post per email. In the subject field of your email please include: Postcard received - your name and surname.

As I did the last time I will update each process in a separate post called The Valentine's List. This way each of you can keep tabs on the status.

Once again, I need to remind you that this time I will really need to be strict on some of these rules. Please read through them carefully.

This event is only limited to people with blogs (any type of blogs).

OK folks - let's send blogger postcards around the world.

Important Dates:
Registration ends - January 24, 2007 12 AM CET (Central European Time)
Mailing postcards - January 29, 2007




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Friday, January 12, 2007

M Bakes #1: The Challenge - Gugelhupf


So, I can still tease you in the new year too. That is a relief! LOL! No, this was not a challenge from me to you but one for me. However, you did get my mind churning on a new idea .... let's see ... later!

For my first M Bakes session I decided to cash in on a challenge. Actually it was something I was waiting for, considering I was the one that started it!

I guess I should start at the beginning of the story.


Once upon a time in the Queendom of Blog many bloggers got together to join in a summer event called - Blogger Postcards Around The World. Each blogger was to send another blogger a postcard via snail mail. It was during this event that the Mets met the Cream Puff. The Mets decided to be cheeky and in her postcard she challenged the Cream Puff. The Cream Puff was no amateur to the game that was for sure and she accepted the challenge graciously.
Many months passed and both the Mets and the Cream Puff became friends exchanging mails and having a few giggles. However, the Mets knew that one day she would be challenged by the Cream Puff. Surely that day came when the Cream Puff crossed the huge pond to travel lands far from home. During these travels she sent the Mets wonderful postcards of her escapades.


Then one day, and very appropriately she received this postcard from Vienna.


The Challenge from the Cream Puff was to bake the cake on the postcard!




Well here I am today. I have taken on the challenge and present to you the Gugelhupf. There were actually two variations of the recipe on the postcard. One was a plain cake with raisins and another one was adding cocoa powder to half of the batter and marble the cake.


I decided to go for the chocolaty version of the cake for two reasons:
  1. I am a chocoholic and cannot resist chocolate in any dish.
  2. I have never marbled my own cake.
As I am prone to do before I start any new project, I researched the technique of marbling. The great thing was I did not have to look very far. I was lucky to have a brilliant baking cookbook right on my shelf.



Easy Marbling
For those of you who have the cookbook you'll find the details on page 229. For the others who don't and are also beginners to this technique, I have summarized what Dorie writes.

To marble cakes it is necessary to have two contrasting colors - a dark and a light type of batter. You can flavor each batter as you desire. Using spices, ground nuts or dried fruit always make a good alternative. Make sure that the dough is not runny or too thick.

The easiest method to marble cakes is by dropping spoonfuls of dark and light batter randomly into the pan. Dip a table knife deep into the bater and zigzag the knife through the batter. Make only 6 to 8 zig and zags - more will cause the batter to mix with each other into an icky looking mush!

Another technique will produce regular patterns in your cake. Spoon the batter out in alternating rows, or if using a round pan, in rings.
Example:
Make the first layer in the pan with three rows - light, dark, light. Now a second layer on top of this, but this time the rows would be - dark, light, dark. When the batter has been used up, use the same zigzag method mentioned above, with fewer zigzags.

Then there is the method I used for this Gugelhupf. Simply pour pour one colored batter then top it off with the other one or make three layers - light on top and bottom and dark in the middle (or the other way round). Then do the zigzag!

As I also had a lot of chocolate leftover from Christmas baking I decided to melt some and pour it as a cake coating after it was baked.

Cheers Ivonne - thanks for this one.



Ingredients:

300g Butter - at room temperature
150g Icing sugar
150g Sugar
3 Eggs
4 Egg yolks
4 Egg whites
240g Flour
30g Cocoa powder
Vanilla sugar
Lemon zest
Chocolate for coating




Method:

Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

In a bowl beat the butter with the icing sugar until creamy. Add the whole eggs one by one, beating each in for about a minute or so. Beat in the egg yolks.

In another mixing bowl whisk the egg whites with the sugar until they peak. Fold this mixture into the butter-egg batter.

Add the flour and fold into the batter gently. Now divide the batter in thirds. Depending on how you want to marble your cake, flavor the light batter with the lemon zest and vanilla sugar and add the cocoa powder to either one portion or to two portions of the batter.

In a bundt cake form pour in the different colored batter using your preferred marbling method.

Bake the cake for approx. 1 hour.

In the meantime melt the chocolate in a bowl placed on top of a pot with boiling water.

Take out the cake out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then tip it out on a rack. Pour the melted chocolate over the top and allow to cool through.


Verdict:

Although this is a very basic tasting cake I was really glad that I got a chance to try out the marbling effect. The cake was soft and moist and really perfect. The chocolate coating on top gave it a great crunch and thinking that it was all on a postcard from Vienna made it taste even better.

Thank you Ivonne for challenging me to try something new.

Did you know that this week is the De-Lurking Week (January 8 - 12)? Come out of the closet and let me know that you are there. Leave a comment and share your ideas with me. I won't bite! Actually I'd love to hear from you! So go on do something daring - De-Lurk!



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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Monthly Mingle #7: Sweet Love!

Photo: Sweet Love by Meeta Albrecht



Liebe geht durch den Magen - a wonderful saying in German, which when translated means love goes through the stomach. Fitting for all of us food bloggers. Wouldn't you agree?

If you have not taken a closer look at your calendars then let me tell you the reason I chose to share this little piece of wisdom with you. February 14th is just a little over a month away. Valentine's day! I love Valentine's day.

For me it is not just a day to show the love I have for my better half but to show my appreciation, affection and good feelings I carry for my friends, family and the special people around me. OK I do not need a special day to remind me of that, but having a specific day is a perfect opportunity to celebrate these feelings.

So, I am inviting you all to my Valentine's Mingle to celebrate love this month. Love of the sweet kind. Create a decadent dessert, a luxurious cake or rich sweets. Just make it sweet for your special sweetie!


Let's get together and share our favorite romantic stories or the special feelings you have for a friend or family member. Let's share "Sweet Love."

Here's how it works:

  1. Create a dish that fits to this theme. Blog about it anytime from now till February 8th, 2007.
  2. Email me your entry with your name, a 100 x 100 pixel picture of your dish, and your permalink by February 8th, 2007.
  3. In your post please include a link to this post and/or the MM logo, so your readers get a chance to mingle with us.
  4. Please send only one entry per blog. If you do not have a blog, simply email your entry, with a picture (if you would like me to add a picture) to blogmeeta@gmail.com.

The first mingle for the new year. Are you ready? On your marks, get set - GO!

I look forward to drooling over all your entries. Wish you sweet love!

Browse through the previous Monthly Mingles.


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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Religion with a View

Greek Church on Flickr

While visiting the Peloponnese, Greece we found a small sceneic village called Kastro. There, I spotted this gorgeous church sitting above the village overlooking the Ionic Sea. I thought "Wow! This is religion with a view."


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Friday, January 05, 2007

The Year Ahead - Happy 2007!


2006 in Photographs

When I look at all these pictures, my one thought is "What a year!"

Hope you all had a fantastic start to 2007!

I have so many new ideas that I would like to realize on the blog. This post will serve the purpose of sharing these ideas with you and inform you of the fun things you can expect here at WFLH.

Of course I would love and really appreciate your feedback and comments. So let me know what you think.


Monthly Mingle
The event I started in the summer of 2006 will be back in January 2007 again. The Monthly Mingle is a monthly event with fun and interesting themes. It is a chance for us to get together and mingle with each other, telling stories and presenting a few great dishes. I will be announcing the theme for the kickoff to 2007 next week, so look out for that. In the meantime browse through the past mingles and see what fun we all had.

Blogger Postcards Around The World
The BPW was a spontaneous event I called into life to allow all of us to get a little closer to each other. I never would have dreamed at the huge success that it was. I know I promised another one towards the end of the last year, but due to a huge workload I had, I was unable to do it. Boy, it involved a massive amount of administration and coordinating. I too learnt plenty in this department LOL! The next round of Blogger Postcards Around The World will also be announced this month, with a little twist. Keep your eyes peeled for the registration start. Just for the record - No, I am not accepting any addresses prior to the registration date announcement.

Cooking School
This regular session of Cooking School was something I really enjoyed. First, it got me cooking some well known dishes we here at the Wolff household love. Second, when I realized that sharing these basic yet popular recipes with you encouraged many to try them out, I had a kind of satisfied feeling. In my eyes it was the perfect interactive session and I hope to bring many more interesting recipes for Cooking School 2007.

Bollywood Cooking
This is one of my new sessions on WFLH in 2007. Just like the Cooking School goes for basic "western" recipes, I plan to cook up basic Indian recipes in this session. One of the main reasons I decided to start this session was to actually push me into cooking more Indian food at home - LOL! Ever since I got involved in the Blog world I have met many fellow Indians and got to know a little more about them through their blogs and food. It all inspired me to cook my own food more at home instead of relying on my favorite Indian restaurant. I also hope that there will be an additional side effect with this session. I hope that many of my non-Indian readers will feel encouraged to try out some of the great recipes Indian cuisine offers.

M Bakes
The name came to me after I watched the latest Bond flick (how original). My name is M. and my mission is to finally pry open a few of my dusty baking books, pick out a recipe and in dangerous combat, under acute attack from mysterious ingredients, to actually bake.
OK enough of that. But I hope you get the picture of what this session is all about. After I was inspired by a few of my favorite bloggers, I kind of got into a baking frenzy last year. As the cakes, muffins and brownies actually turned out well I thought I need to do this more often. It is even fun! Can you believe that? I couldn't! Well that is what I will be sharing with you in this new session - my results from my baking escapades in the kitchen. As a matter of fact the first session is planned for this month - I'll be cashing in on a challenge from a certain blogger. Hope you'll join me!

Get The Picture
I needed a way to thank all my readers for their loyalty, friendship, comments, motivation and inspiration so I decided to do it in a special way. Every so often I will offer one of my pictures for grabs on the blog. Two (or three or four) lucky bloggers will then get a chance to win that particular picture. I will develop the picture for them and send it to them. I am a little hesitant with this one as I am not too sure if my pictures is a nice way to say "Thank You!" But I really wanted it to be something personal from me and not just a box of chocolates. I will give it a try and see how it goes. The first session of Get The Picture is planned for in February.

That pretty much wraps up my ideas for the year ahead.

For my other blog, The Daily Tiffin, I received some great information this week. The Daily Tiffin has been nominated for Best Blog for Family and Kids over at Well Fed. A fantastic surprise. The Daily Tiffin is a wonderful team blog with a few gorgeous ladies on the team who write up fun, informative and interesting posts focussing on family and kids. We just need one last favor and that is your vote. If you are interested in voting you can find all the details here. I also have many ideas planned for the Daily Tiffin but those will be posted on the DT a little later.

I truly am looking forward to this shiny new year and hope you will accompany me through the Blogesphere.



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