Chocolate and Caramel Tart - The Sweetest Challenge

ChocCaramelTart (18) by MeetaK

Chocolate - caramel - chocolate - caramel.

Have I gone ga-ga? No!!

It's the end of the month and that means we unveil another incredible Daring Bakers challenge for the rest of the blogoshpere. This time a fantastic tart that tantalizes my chocolate addiction. Paired with caramel, it simply goes down as the most extravagant creations to date.

This month it was the beautiful Veron co-hosting with the lovely Patricia who chose the challenge. A tart taken from Eric Kayser's hot cookbook Sweet and Savory Tarts. After I made this tart, I went out and got myself a copy of this and believe me it is hot!

The tart is a simple layering of a chocolate crust flavored with cinnamon, layered with a wonderful soft caramel, then topped with a fluffy chocolate mousse layer and finally, sprinkled with crunchy caramel fragments.

Chocolate - caramel - chocolate - caramel.

Out of this world!

As is always the case we were allowed a few modifications, otherwise everyone had to stick to the recipe given by Veron and Patricia.

Allowed Modifications:
  • Caramel fragment toppings were optional but make sure that the caramel-cream and chocolate layers are true to the recipe
  • If we had no luck with the dry method of making the caramel, then we were able to use the alternate method shown at the end of the recipe.
  • The cinnamon can be eliminated if we did not like the spice.
  • Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region

ChocCaramelTart (13) by MeetaK

This time I waited a while to go ahead with the challenge. Normally I've had the opportunity to finish it off on the first-second week but this time there were a few other things that needed tending to.

I realized there were a few advantages and disadvantages to both sides.
Completing the challenge earlier in the month allowed me to relax, sit back and help out others in the group with what I had experienced. Disadvantage here was that you had to learn from your own experiences. Doing it a little later on in the month meant that others were able to help out and you used their experience not to make the same mistakes. Disadvantage was that you are a nervous wreck by the time you decide to make the cake because of all the horror stories you have read on the DB blog!

In the end though I think many of us completed this challenge with success. Without much ado - I present the Daring Baker challenge for August 2007.

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart
Recipe Quantity: One (1) 9" Square or one (1) 10" Round tart

Chocolate Shortbread Pastry
Note: The Chocolate Shortbread pastry can make 3 tart shells. If you would like to cut that recipe into thirds then you may do so, however there is no guarantee it will scale down properly.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Refrigeration: overnight


250g (1 cup ) unsalted butter, softened
150g plus 2 tablespoons (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
50g (½ cup) ground hazelnuts
2 level teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 eggs
400g (4 ½ cups) cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder


A day ahead
In a mixing bowl of a food processor, cream the butter. Add the confectioners’ sugar, the ground hazelnuts, and the cinnamon, and mix together. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing constantly.

Sift in the flour, the baking powder, and the cocoa powder, and incorporate well. Knead the dough with your hands and form a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

This was the easiest method we've used to prepar dough in the DB challenge. The dough was made within minutes and I really thought that I did something wrong because it was so easy. LOL!

You will notice that the chocolate dough is very soft, but don't worry it hardens well after refrigerating.

ChocCaramelTart (04) by MeetaK

Milk Chocolate and Caramel Layers
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Baking Time: 30 minutes
Refrigeration time: 1 hour


250g (½ lb) chocolate shortbread pastry (see recipe above)
300g (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar
250g (1 cup) heavy cream (30-40 percent butterfat) or crème fraiche
50g (¼ cup) butter
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
15g flour
300g (1 ¼ cups) whipping cream
250g (½ lb) milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (325 °F). Line the baking pan with the chocolate shortbread pastry and bake blind for 15 minutes.

I did not have any trouble rolling the dough out, what gave me a bit of problems was trying to get the dough into the pan. I had floured the counter top well but it kept cracking up on me every time I tried lifting it to line the pan. In the end I managed it well, just had to use a bit of patchwork for some sections of the crust.

In a saucepan, caramelize 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar using the dry method until it turns a golden caramel color. Incorporate the heavy cream or crème fraiche and then add butter. Mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.

This is the method I used rather than the alternative method mentioned below. I took on the challenge head on. I had no trouble melting the sugar. After reading several comments and statements on the DB blog I kept my cream out to get it to room temperature. However, after adding it to the melted sugar, the caramel went rock hard. But the trick was to keep it on the heat, stirring continuously. Soon I had the most awesome colored cream caramel mixture with no lumps. I dipped my finger for a taste - heaven was in my saucepan!

ChocCaramelTart (12) by MeetaK

In a mixing bowl, beat the whole eggs with the extra egg yolk, then incorporate the flour. Pour this into the cream-caramel mixture and mix thoroughly.

Before doing this my advice here would be to make sure the caramel has cooled down considerably. Then once ready temper the egg mixture. Simply take a few tablespoons of the caramel mixture and add it to the egg mixture, stirring all the time. Once the egg mixture has almost reached the temperature of the caramel mixture simply pour the egg mixture into the saucepan.

Spread it out in the tart shell and bake for 15-20 minutes until the caramel has set. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Prepare the milk chocolate mousse by beating the whipping cream until stiff. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain-marie, and fold it gently into the whipped cream.

Pour the chocolate mousse over the cooled caramel mixture, smoothing it with a spatula. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

My mousse was a bit on the thin side and I was a bit worried if it would set well. It did eventually but took more than an hour. It was OK though as I was serving it the next day.

Caramel Fragments:

ChocCaramelTart (06) by MeetaK

Melt 100g (½ cup) granulated sugar in a saucepan until it reaches an amber color. Pour it onto waxed paper laid out on a flat surface. Leave to cool. Break it into small fragments and stick them lightly into the top of the tart.

My word of advice here would be to do this on each slice of cake separately. I stored the caramel bits in an airtight container and just before serving sprinkled the slice with the fragments. I noticed that if you spread the fragments all over the cake and then refrigerate the caramel kind of disintegrates into the cake. Leaves you with outlines of where the bits were but no crunchy bits to bite.

Alternate Caramel Method:
If you have problems with the dry method, you may use this method.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Set mixture in a pot over medium-high heat and stir slowly. When the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring and leave it alone. Wait till desired color is attained .

Proceed with the rest of the recipe.


ChocCaramelTart (14) by MeetaK

A fantastic recipe. It was fun and easy to make. In between the stages I even was able to clean the entire house top to bottom!! I enjoyed this recipe the most and would call it my current favorite. The caramel was lovely - ooey and gooey just like I imagined it to be. The mousse was fluffy and light. Together it melted in the mouth like silk.

The only bit of a down was the extreme cinnamon flavor in the crust. It really stood out. I have nothing against cinnamon, being an Indian have had it in all sorts of things that most people would not pair it with. But it was always just an hint. In this tart it was quite over-powering. Another thing about the tart is that it is amazingly filling. A little piece and it's all you can take. I brought this as dessert to a pot luck barbecue party at one of our neighbors' and served it in little square bite sizes. This was the ideal way as people were able to indulge in it a little more than just one huge piece. All in all it came off with everyone really well and I know many of the guests will be tuning in today to check out the recipe.

Would I make this again?
Yes, actually I already have plans to make this again for another party next month. This time I will cut down the cinnamon amount so that it's not as intense. There was nothing about this recipe I did not enjoy. The only shock second I had was when the caramel went hard as soon as the cream hit it, but I relaxed after it all started melt into the right consistency again.

What did I learn from this challenge?
That a food processor is my best friend when it comes to making dough. I have been one that always kneads with the hands or uses the kneading hooks on my hand mixer. The food processor has been used only a very few times to actually make dough. This challenge reminded me that I should use it more often.

I thank both Veron and Patricia for choosing this brilliant challenge for us and also for answering all questions so promptly. If you would like to get more of a chocolate and caramel rush then I would advice you to work your way down the list over at the Daring Bakers' Blogroll.

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Caramelized Homegrown Tomatoes on Homemade Gnocchi

Caramelized Tomatoes Gnocchi (01)

Life in the kitchen can be quite easy at times. Especially when you have great neighbors, friends and in-laws who grow their own fruit and vegetables. I am forever getting fantastic fresh produce from all of them. In return, whenever I cook up something using the ingredients, I try to treat them to the finished dish.

Well there is almost like a little competition going on in our little neighborhood lately. Most of my neighbors are aware of my little space on the web called WFLH. Whenever they bring something over for me to cook up, one of the first questions is if I the finished product will be on the blog. When it is, it's the topic of the week around the neighborhood. S will tell K that I made a great dessert using her berries and it's on the blog. The week after that M will tell B, I made a tart using her zucchinis and she could see it on the blog.

There must be a sensation of pride amongst my neighbors when all these recipes are created using the beautiful bounties they provide and then placed on the web for the world to see. The friendly competition then lies in many aspects: which dish was photographed better, which one got more comments on them, which one caused people to go into a frenzy and of course which one probably tasted better.

I am forever grateful for all the incredible generosity and in return can only push myself to be more creative with each dish I make using any particular produce I have been given. I do my best to keep the "fire" burning and amazingly even the men have found a certain interest in this funny kind of barter.

Caramelized Tomatoes Gnocchi (05) by MeetaK

A few days ago my neighbor from down the road rang my doorbell one afternoon. He's tall, rather handsome and is a pilot. I often see him in his back yard but was never really certain what he does there. He kind of keeps to himself but is very polite whenever he sees me, even stops to give nice compliments. Yes, believe me he is the neighborhood heartthrob!

So, imagine my surprise when I opened the door and see this hunk of a man standing in his full pilot uniform, holding a basket of tomatoes. Cute! I could not help but smile sneakingly!

Well he was on his way to work and would be away for a few days - he wanted to give me the tomatoes, which he grows in his back yard as they would have gone bad in his absence. I also got the keys to his house and was requested to water his plants and veggies. I was also told I could help myself to anything that was ripe enough in his back yard.


Caramelized Tomatoes Gnocchi 02 by MeetaK

Here is the funniest thing - many of my neighbors (all ladies) are now dying to know what his place looks like. Some even want a sneak peak!!! I have been begged and bribed. This could have been a scene from Desperate Housewives!

My lips are sealed and I won't be spilling any beans. All I will say is that I am very impressed by his little haven he calls his back yard.

I will also share what I made with those gorgeous tomatoes I was given. A delicate dish where the tomato is the star. Gently caramelized in the oven to bring out the their sweet aromas and juices. The contrast in taste comes from the peppery red peppercorns giving the whole dish an incredible and explosive combination. To do proper justice to the homegrown tomatoes I make lovely homemade gnocchi - pairs perfectly!

I am not sure if he is aware of this blog but if he is - this one's for you Marc ;-)

Tomato Variety:
You say tomato, I say delicious


Shake it, stir it or blend it - let's get this party rocking with your tempting drink creations. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.

Deadline: September 10th!


Caramelized Tomatoes Gnocchi (04) by MeetaK

750g cherry tomatoes - cut in halves
3-4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons red peppercorn - coarsely crushed
2 teaspoons brown sugar
125g mozzarella - coarsely chopped
1 bunch basil - coarsely chopped
800g homemade gnocchi
2 teaspoons balsam vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil


Caramelized Tomatoes Gnocchi (06) by MeetaK

Prepare your gnocchi as to the instructions here. The recipe is fantastic and really easy to make ahead.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease an oven-proof dish or a baking tray with some olive oil.

In a bowl toss together the crushed pepper and garlic with the tomato halves, sugar and salt. Place the tomatoes in the dish and caramelize in the oven for approx. 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on them so that they do not burn.

Once ready take out and sprinkle with the balsam vinegar. Immediately mix with the cooked gnocchi. Add the mozzarella and basil leaves, toss gently and serve in warm plates.

Enjoy with a nice chilled white wine.

Caramelized Tomatoes Gnocchi (03) by MeetaK

Pure bliss. The tomatoes were wonderfully ripe and juicy. The slight sweetness matches so well with the zing of the pepper. It's an out of this world experience. The gnocchi is a perfect partner because it absorbs the flavors so well. Each bite was savored to the end and the leftover juices were wiped clean with a few remaining gnocchis.

I'd like to send this over to Andrea who is hosting a great event called Grow Your Own. Perfect for all those hobby gardeners out there. I hope Andrea will see that I cannot grow my own because I have incredible neighbors who grow their own and spoil me with their own grown produce. I just cook what they grow! ;-)

Marta also has a great event going in which a fresh produce is featured every month. This month it's Tomatoes. I think this is a great dish for the event. Hope Marta likes it too!

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Colorful Birthday Wishes

Colorful Wishes (01) by MeetaK

If I was to tell you I spent a larger part of the afternoon yesterday dancing around doing a Native Indian dance with a feather in my headband what would you think?

"Crazy girl!" or "Oh cool!"

Well I am and it was! We celebrated Soeren's 5th birthday yesterday and he had chosen a Native Indian theme for his birthday. We had 8 Big Chiefs and Little Squaws running around. Each one got a special name - Tom was "Naked Frog", mine was "Lame Duck" - Soeren was "Dancing Wolff" (yes with a double "f").

I think I had the best time at the party. LOL! It's fantastic to just let everything go and be part of the innocent fun kids have at this age. Wish I could do it more often.

Anyway, I wish my Big Chief Dancing Wolff many more colorful birthday wishes and hope each one comes true for him.

The M & M's were a part of his birthday cake! Yes, I'll share the picture of the finished item soon.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Cooking School: Crème Berry Brûlée

Creme Brulee (06) by MeetaK

Probably one of the most popular desserts in the culinary world. The crème brulée is a symphony of cold, creamy custard and a hard, hot layer of burned sugar. The contrasts titillate the tongue and if prepared correctly, brings the hardest anti-dessertists to their knees. No surprise therefore, that you will find several variations of this dessert all across Europe.

However, there is only one true crème brulée and because this dessert needs to be prepared with great care, many people shy away from making it at home. Instead they seem to occasionally enjoy it only when they visit restaurants - but even that is not a guarantee that you'll be getting the perfect crème brulée.

So for this session of Cooking School I thought I could encourage those, who hide behind their aprons when they hear "make Crème brulée", but innerly are craving large spoonfuls of smooth creaminess and sweet caramel. One does not have to wait till they are out eating in a fine restaurant, one can really enjoy this dessert at home too. Homemade!

My little twist is adding a handful of mixed berries to it, an irresistible little trick I picked up when I visited Kelly's version. The berries I used were homegrown from my mother-in-law's garden. She has a huge patch where she grows every kind of berry I can imagine - from strawberries to gooseberries, raspberries to black currents and many other interesting sweet and fruity berries.

I also decided to enter the loveliness in cream and caramel to this month's Sugar High Friday hosted by the lovely Johanna. She chose a great and very interesting theme - going local. The real idea behind this was actually to find a local dessert - however, I do hope Johanna will accept my compromise - I stayed on the continent and used local ingredients. There are many interesting German sweets and desserts but nothing that I could say I have a real passion about.

With the Crème brulée it is a different story. I have a passionate love affair with this dessert, often finding it irresistible to pass up whenever I see it on a menu or when entertaining.

Creme Brulee (03) by MeetaK

Crème brulée in English means "burned cream" and there are certain disagreements about the true origins of it. Whether the origins are in France or England or Spain (the Crema Catalana), it is unclear. The very first recipes for crème brulée date back from the seventeenth century taken from a French cookbook that was written by François Massialot, who was born in Limoges in 1660. Massialot was a cook who was hired by dukes and duchesses, princes and princesses to prepare menus for special occasions. He prepared meals for Monsieur Philippe, duke of Orleans, brother of Louis the fourteenth, Madame princess Liselotte, wife of Monsieur, the Dauphin, and several dukes and marquesses.

To simply describe the crème brulée one could say it is a custard, which is cooked and cooled. A small amount of sugar is sprinkled on the top of the cooled custard and the sugar is caramelized using a small torch or beneath a broiler. A classic custard acquires its' delicate flavor from the simple mixture of cream and eggs. A traditional crème brulée will not use any additional flavorings such as vanilla, liqueur or fruit.

The tricky part of this dish is the thickening of the sauce with raw egg yolks and the burning of the sugar. However, once you have conquered these issues you are rewarded in the most exquisite way.

So, let's get down to making a fruity and creamy crème brulée.


Shake it, stir it or blend it - let's get this party rocking with your tempting drink creations. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.

Deadline: September 10th!


Creme Brulee (02) by MeetaK

For the custard
500g heavy cream
1 vanilla bean - insides scraped out
5 egg yolks
60g fine sugar
200g mixed berries of your choice

For the caramel layer
50g fine brown sugar


Creme Brulee (05) by MeetaK

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C. In 6 oven-proof ramekin dishes (1/8 liter content) place a few berries on the bottom. Place these individual ramekins in a larger, tall-sided oven proof dish. Set aside.

Pour the cream in a pot and scrape the vanilla bean out into the cream. Put the pod into the pot and gently bring the vanilla cream mixture to a boil over a low heat. Whisk frequently. When the cream starts to steam, remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended.

Now comes the first tricky part. Adding the hot cream to the egg mixture without curdling them. The best way to do this is to temper the eggs. This simply means, you slowly bring the temperature of the eggs to just about the same temperature of the cream by adding the cream in small portions.

I use a ladle and pour some cream (about 1/2 a ladle-full) into the egg yolks while whisking vigorously. Repeat this process until the eggs have warmed through. This process slowly heats the yolks, reducing the chance of curdling them.

Once this is done, start stirring the cream, and steadily pour the yolks into the cream while stirring continuously. I recommend using a silicon spatula for this as you do not want to actually whisk the cream, bringing too many air bubbles to the mixture. This will cause the custard to be bubbly.

Before I distribute the custard into the individual ramekin dishes I sieve it to make the liquid as fine as possible. It also removes a lot of the access air. Another way to release the air would be by tapping the bowl on the counter-top a few times.

Equally divide the mixture in the individual ramekins. Chill the mixture overnight. This is an extra step, which you can skip if you are pressed for time. But I would recommend it as it gives best results.

Creme Brulee (01) by MeetaK

Pour simmering water into the tall-sided oven-proof dish about halfway up the sides of the individual ramekins.

Bake the custard for about 35 to 45 minutes. Take out and allow to cool at room temperature, then place in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each serving with a thin, even layer of brown sugar.

Now comes tricky part two: You have a couple of options of how to burn or caramelize the sugar. Either you do it under the built-in grill of an electric oven or you use a food torch.

If you are using the food torch, heat the sugar with the flame until it begins to brown. Stop when it reaches a golden color. It should not get too dark.

If you are using the oven grill, broil for 20 to 30 seconds within at least an inch of heating element.

The dis-advantage of burning the sugar under a grill is the custard heats up too. The crème brulée is best when the custard is still at room temperature or cold. This can be best achieved with the food torch, which caramelizes the sugar quickly without heating the cream.

Serve the crème brulée immediately. If you do not, the caramelized sugar will turn soft as it absorbs moisture from the crème underneath. The most appealing part of the recipe is the contrast between the crisp, hard layer of sugar and the soft creamy custard.

Tips and tricks:
  • To test if the custard is done, simply and carefully reach in the oven and gently shake using tongs or an oven mitt. It's perfect when the edges are set but the rest of the custard wobble. Cooking the custards past this point will lead to a harder, pastier consistency.
  • Despite the name, the sugar on top does not have to be actually burned. Only cook it to a golden color. Any darker and it will taste bitter.
  • The finer the sugar the better the results of the caramel. Regular granulated sugar works well. Brown sugar makes a tasty crust. Do not use coarse sugar - it requires too much time to caramelize and makes too thick a crust. (I used rather coarse brown sugar which melted well but was slightly grainy)
  • Use a jug, measuring jug or any container with a spout to pour the simmering water into the baking pan - it's easier to pour and less likely to splash into the custards.
  • As the custards cook make sure the tops are far from the heat source. This will prevent them from overcooking or turning brown. In an electric oven with a top-heating element, place a sheet pan on the top rack to protect the custards from direct heat.
  • If you are using the grill to brown the sugar, watch the ramekins carefully. Avoid burning the sugar and take out as soon as the sugar reaches the golden color.

About Cooking School
I started the Cooking School sessions last year with the purpose to cook popular and well known dishes from around the world. Soon I realized that so many of you were encouraged to try these at your own homes too and so it became a regular, almost monthly session here on WFLH. I wish to make this session more interactive with my readers, where your ideas, thoughts, tips and tricks in the comment section of the posts will help beginners learn the process and give experienced cooks more ideas. The recipe does not have to end with my post - if you have recipes of your own share them in the comments.
The index on the right sidebar under the section "Cooking School" will provide you with many great recipes and ideas for popular dishes. Hope you enjoy them.


Creme Brulee (04) by MeetaK

I love taking my spoon and dipping it into my ramekin. The crack of the caramel releases the wonderful aromas of vanilla and berries found inside the cream. A dessert that offers an experience for all of your senses. The crunchy caramel against the smooth cream and the tart soft berries is incredible. A traditional crème brulée is a lovely experience but with the addition of the berries, we found it exciting to taste the different berries, each time surprised by a new flavor.

Sugar High Friday Treats:
Tropicana Cream with Berries
Strawberry Mille Feuille
Raspberry Dream Cream

I am glad to announce the winner for my little teaser in my earlier post. I admit it was not an easy one and I was beginning to think that no one will get it. But Neha of The Literate and Liberal Foodie guessed it right. Congratulations Neha! Now all you need to do is pick out any one picture you'd like and send me an email with the name of the picture! It'll be heading towards California soon afterwards.

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Home Grown Harvest

Berry Mix by MeetaK

Don't these ripe and juicy berries look delicious and tempting? They are home grown and this year my in-laws had a huge bounty.

We ate them in huge bowl fulls and I also made a lovely, very popular dessert with these. However, berries are very rarely used in the dessert!

Care to take a guess? You could win yourself a little something from me again. I am ready to give away another one of my pictures to a lucky winner.

The first one to leave the correct answer can choose their very own favorite picture taken by me. Pick out any photo you particularly like on my blog here or on my Flickr Phototstream and I will send you a small/medium sized poster (depending on the crop of the photo) of the original picture (without the frames, titles and copyright). You are welcome to leave multiple answers, but I'll pick the first one from the list ;-)!

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Bollywood Cooking: Poori Bhaji

Poori-Bhaji (05) by MeetaA

An all time national (probably even an international) favorite – it’s got to be the delicious poori (or puri) bhaji. You will be sure to find some variation of this dish in almost all of the different regional cuisines in India. It’s served almost everywhere. You’ll be sure to find it on the menu of finer restaurants or the several food stalls or dhabas scattered across the entire country. Indians will have this dish as a warm breakfast or as a quick lunch.

The versatility of the dish is just one of the many reasons why Indians are so fond of the Puri-Bhaji.

So what exactly makes up a poori-bhaji dish?

A poori is a flat bread made out of a wheat flour called atta, which is commonly used in Indian cuisine. The dough is rolled out in flat circles with a rolling pin, and then fried in hot vegetable oil. When put into the hot oil they swell up with air and puff up into a balloon-type form. The pooris taste best when served immediately. Hot and crispy, they impress any guest with their puffiness. As the air is released, the pooris will gradually sink.

Poori-Bhaji (03) by MeetaA

Pooris from the northern and central states of India are softer and are served with a spicy potato curry. A mango pickle typical to these regions is often served on the side. My favourite way!
The pooris from Maharashtra are crisper than those found in the northern regions of the country because of a variation in the proportions of dough. Pieces of the poori are torn off and folded to form a type of a scoop, then used to literally scoop up the vegetables from the plate.

I remember the first time my dad showed Tom how to eat this way. It was our first trip to San Francisco together, to meet my family, we were at the Gurudwara all sitting down to eat the Langar and my dad was explaining the reason behind this ritual. When the food came and we all began to eat, my dad smiled at Tom knowingly - he knew that Tom might be feeling a bit like a fish out of water. He touched Tom's hand and showed him the way to eat Hindustani style. LOL! It's a scene that I watched sitting across them and it has been branded in my head forever.

Bhatura, kachori, Khasta kachori are all versions of the basic poori - flat disks of dough fried in hot oil.

Typically, the Bhaji is any vegetable dish made with a masala, often consisting of onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and other spices. Depending on the taste and style of the persons cooking and eating the bhaji, it can be prepared with more or less, thin or thick gravy. Often the bhaji’s main ingredient will be potatoes, but you will also find other popular condiments like channa/chole masala or a quick paneer.

Poori-Bhaji (04) by MeetaA

My own version of bhaji is with potatoes and some green bell peppers. It is prepared with a rich masala made of fresh tomatoes, lots of onions, ginger, garlic and some basic Indian spices. I also prefer to make my bhaji more on the dry side, but with a lot of the masala. I find scooping up the succulent and spicy vegetables with the poori more delightful when the bhaji is served dry. However, this can be changed to suit your own taste.

I also use a mix of whole wheat flour and normal white flour for my pooris instead of the typical atta. Whole wheat is high in fiber and I find it gives the pooris a great texture.


Shake it, stir it or blend it - let's get this party rocking with your tempting drink creations. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.

Deadline: September 10th!

Making Poori/Puri
Makes 7-8 flat circles the size of small tea-saucers


150g whole wheat flour
50 g white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Luke warm water

Poori-Bhaji (06) by MeetaA


In a large mixing bowl mix all the ingredients except the water together. Add a bit of water and knead into a stiff dough using your hands. You might find this helpful. Roll into a ball, place in the bowl and cover. Allow to rest for 15 - 30 minutes.

Take the ball of dough and roll into a long snake-like roll. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into balls the size of table-tennis or golf balls.

Dust your counter top with some flour and using a rolling pin roll into flat circles.

Heat your deep-fat fryer or some oil in a pot or wok. When the oil is hot enough gently slid one of the dough circles into the oil. Using a slotted spoon, hold down the poori until it starts to swell. Then let go and watch it puff up. Allow to turn golden. Flip over and fry until this side also turns golden. Remove the poori from the oil with the slotted spoon and allow to drip on some kitchen paper towel.

Repeat this process for each of the pooris.

Serve hot.

Interesting link:
Poori making - A students guide

Meeta's Potato/Bell Pepper Bhaji

4-5 medium sized potatoes - cubed
1-2 green bell peppers - coarsely chopped
2 medium sized red onions - chopped
3 garlic cloves - finely chopped
Ginger - as much as you like - finely chopped
3 tomatoes - coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper
2 red chillies - finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
Oil - like canola
Coriander leaves - chopped

Poori-Bhaji (02) by MeetaA


Heat oil in a large wok or a heavy saucepan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and allow to cook until they are fragrant and begin to pop. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and red chillies and cook until soft. Sprinkle in the rest of the spices.

Mix in the tomato paste and cook for a further few minutes until the mixture is thick and the oil starts to separate. Add a few drops of water to this mixture if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Then throw in the tomatoes and potatoes and give the whole mixture a good stir. Salt generously. Add a bit of water then cover and allow to simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Do not add to much water at this point. If you like the vegetable dish dry it's better to keep checking if there is enough of water and adding as required. Stir frequently so that things do not stick to the pan.

Once the potatoes are soft, remove the lid from the pot and add the bell peppers. Cook until peppers are soft but still crunchy. Check to see the consistency of the dish. Finally add the yogurt, mix to incorporate and heat through. Do not allow to boil or else the yogurt might curdle.

Remove from heat and garnish with the coriander leaves.

Enjoy with hot fresh pooris.


Poori-Bhaji (01) by MeetaA

So I am sure you are eagerly awaiting the revelation of my secret I told you about in my earlier post. Here it is: this was the first time I actually made pooris on my own. Anita's shout to party with pooris gave me the wings to have a go at frying my own pooris. Look mum I made my own pooris!
They were just the way I remember my grandma made them. Soft but crispy and purely delicious.
The vegetable dish is something I often make for a quick lunch. All three of us normally enjoy this with rotis or plain parathas. This was the first time with pooris. It's a lovely and simple dish to make. Although the list of spices seems a mile long, these are all spices one can find in any good supermarket or Indian store. The green bell pepper adds a wonderful note to the entire dish. Leaving it slightly crunchy gives the bhaji more texture.

About Bollywood Cooking:
Bollywood Cooking is my candid name to a monthly (more or less) series of Indian cooking on WFLH. The purpose is to show many of my non-Indian readers that good Indian food can also be enjoyed in your own homes, cooked easily in your kitchens. I cook basic Indian dishes using ingredients available commonly in most supermarkets or Indian stores. This session also encourages me to experiment more with my own cuisine. I document these for you and demonstrate that cooking Indian is easier than believed. Read more Bollywood Cooking

More Indian Cuisine on WFLH:
Vegetable Daal
Palak Paneer
Spicy Beef & Potato Curry
Chicken Curry
Fusion - Potato Pitta Parantha

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Poori Bhaji Fiesta

Poori-Bahji (04) by MeetaA

Many of you seem to love it when I cook Indian food. Well if you love it I gotta make it.

If you've been surfing some of the Indian blogs lately you might have seen a fiesta of one particular dish. Everyone is making the very traditional meal of Poori- (or Puri) Bhaji. It's because a dear blogger friend of mine, Anita shouted Party Time and called upon us to make this totally scrumptious dish. Everyone has his or her own style of making this dish - a special ingredient and secret recipe. One thing never changes though, whichever version you decide to try, it'll definitely be an unforgettable experience.

This is my version! I'll be back to share more about this recipe and dish and I'll also reveal a little secret!

See you soon!

Looking for the recipe? You'll find it here.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Home: Orange Flowers

Orange Rose by MeetA

It's been something I've wanted to do for a while. Share a bit of home design with you. I actually even started off last year with a few ideas but somehow, like so many things, the idea got lost in the daily routine.

Then the lovely Janelle of Talk of Tomatoes created a great event called Centerpiece of The Month and I have been wanting to take part in it for absolutely forever. The perfect kick to get on with my home design session here on the blog.

So, for my first entry to this event I present to you a bouquet in orange. The flowers are entirely courtesy of my neighbor. She lives a few houses down the road and has the most gorgeous garden one has ever set their eyes on. She's 55 and has a small flower shop - how convenient eh?

Well whenever Soeren and I are over to visit I am never allowed to leave without a bouquet of flowers cut from her garden.

Orange Gerbera by MeetaA

Today we put together a dream in orange. As I was wearing an orange blouse and feeling high spirited she suggested I take this lovely summer color home with me. She put together roses, gerberas and berries. Then she gave me the bunch and I tied it up into a bouquet.

At home I placed it in a rectangular glass vase. Looks lovely doesn't it!

Orange Blooms by MeetaA

More Ideas:
Elegant Bouquet

Finally I also got around to taking a picture of that lovely apron I won for these blondies. Thanks once again to Myriam!

Browniebabe Apron by MeetaA

My browniebabe entry this month are these rich chocolate mocca brownies. Enjoy them!

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Independent India


The color of freedom, power and honor, the pride of India, my country, my land, my India.

I'd like to wish all my fellow and dear Indian friends and readers a very Happy Independence Day.

Today beautiful India celebrates 60 years of Independence from the British Rule. You'll find a wonderful and detailed explanation of the Independence over at Wikipedia.

I'd like to also present you with the translation of the Indian National Anthem.

Thou are the ruler of the minds of all people, dispenser of India's destiny.

The name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujurat and Maratha. Of the Dravid and Orissa and Bengal.

It Echoes in the hills of Vindhyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of Yamuna and Ganga and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.

They pray for your blessing and sing thy praise. The salvation of all people is thy hand, thou dispenser of India's destiny. Victory, Victory, Victory to thee

The Jana Gana Mana was composed by Shri Rabindranath Tagore and first sung at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress on December 27th, 1911. It was adopted as the National Anthem of India on 24th January, 1950 by the Constituent Assembly. The first stanza (out of five stanzas) of the song forms the National Anthem.


I'd also like to share a couple of photos I found especially creative on Flickr today. As I have mailed each person to request permission to reproduce them here, I will be updating this as I get their permission. So, make sure you come back!

In the spirit of the Independence Day here they are:

Tri Colors by artstander

Independent India by Paavani

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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Rich: Chocolate Mocca Brownies

Choc-Mocca Brownies by MeetaA

As the reigning Miss Browniebabe I am looking forward to passing on the apron to the lucky winners this month. I've already seen a few awesome and very tempting looking brownies pop up everywhere on the blogoshpere. I wonder how Myriam does it? Choosing from so many awesome entires. I'd have a huge problem - besides the fact of easily putting on the kilos just by looking at all of the entries, I'd never be able to choose just the one.

Being the current Browniebabe of the Month I thought I would share one of our favorite brownie recipes for everyone. Yes, you all know me well - it has to be one that has plenty of chocolate in it.

I have neglected my chocolate addiction throughout the summer and have been enjoying the more fruity desserts, sweets and cakes lately. I have to admit it was an awfully sweet month but my chocolate craving has come back with a vengeance. Like any addict, I humbly give in to it's calling and satisfy the temptation as best as I can.

This time with a rich, moist chocolate brownie, with crunchy walnuts and a sprinkling of espresso powder for an explosive combination. One bite and you'll be blown away - I am each time I make these. I really have to slap my hand away from over-indulging in these - it's so easy to.

Choc-Mocca Brownies (09) by MeetaA

Make these for your family parties, reunions, neighbors and friends - you will be loved for centuries to come. Here every time we have a neighborhood festival I am asked to make these in huge amounts and then I bathe in the "oohhs!" and "ahhhs!" and all the compliments that come my way. A boost for the ego trust me!

Are you all ready for the chocolate kick? Ok here goes!


Shake it, stir it or blend it - let's get this party rocking with your tempting drink creations. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.

Deadline: September 10th!


Choc-Mocca Brownies (03) by MeetaA

300 g bittersweet chocolate - coarsely chopped
200g Californian walnuts - chopped
150g all-purpose flour
100g chocolate chips
20g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons espresso powder
5 eggs
250g sugar
1/4 liter oil (canola)

For the chocolate glaze
200g milk chocolate - coarsely chopped - I used Lindt
200g cream
1 teaspoon cocoa powder


Choc-Mocca Brownies (05) by MeetaA

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.

In a double boiler or a water bath melt the bittersweet chocolate. In a bowl mix together the walnuts, flour, chocolate chips, 20g of cocoa powder, salt, and the espresso powder. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy. Drizzle the oil in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Slowly temper the egg mixture with the warm melted chocolate, then beat in the rest of the chocolate. Fold in the flour mixture into the egg/chocolate mixture. Do not over-beat.

Line the bottom of a rectangular baking pan (35 x 24 cm) with some baking paper. Pour in the batter and smooth the top. Bake for 25 minutes in the middle rack of the oven. Take out and allow to cool. Once cooled, run a knife along the sides and tip onto a rack bottom facing up.

In a small saucepan bring the cream to a gently boil. Add the chopped milk chocolate and allow to melt. Scrape the bottom of the pan every now and then to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture has thickened slightly remove from heat and allow to cool a little bit. You will notice the mixture will thicken as it cools. Once it has reached a thickish consistency pour the mixture onto the cake.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool and set for 1-2 hours. Once the chocolate glaze has set, cut into squares. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder and serve with some hot tea or coffee.

Then watch everyone drool!


Choc-Mocca Brownies (06) by MeetaA

I wish I could reach out and give you all a piece of this so you can really experience the taste and texture of these brownies. They are moist, dense but soft. It's such a treat to sink your teeth into these brownies. Starting with the sweet milky chocolaty glaze down to the rich chocolate cake with the crunchy nuts and chocolate chips. The tongue bursts with flavors of deep espresso and bittersweet chocolate. Satisfying!

Craving for more chocolate?
Sweet Chocolate Seduction
Havana Pralines
Toblerone Tart
Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Mountains
Chocolate Chip Scones
Mousse Au Chocolat

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Earth Food Roundup


We wanted to show everyone how easy it is to take action, to reduce our impact and to clean up our space at home. Easy everyday steps we all take to save our planet. Nothing extraordinary and nothing that could not fit into an everyday routine.

In this Monthly Mingle session of Earth Food we all got together to raise awareness for a good cause. Twenty three lovely entries and brilliant posts dedicated to indicate these steps. If you are reading this and still are not sure what action you as an individual can take, I urge you to visit each of these fantastic entries, read their posts and then sit back and think "Is it tht easy?"

It is!

September Monthly Mingle Theme

As I was going through some of the previous mingles, it struck me we were missing one vital item on the list. We've had ice creams, savory cakes, sweet desserts and even a mingle dedicated to Arabic food. Yes, we've truly had a few awesome mingles! However, we've not had any drinks. Now what can a party be without drinks? And you all thought I was a good hostess - shame on me. I'm changing all that and dedicating the next mingle to liquids!

Cocktails, aperitifs, milkshakes, smoothies or lassi. Add a splash of alcohol or keep it pure. Shake it, stir it or blend it - just mix up a refreshing drink. Serve it hot or cold but I need it in a glass. Whatever you concoct make sure it satisfies all our Liquid Dreams!

If you are looking for inspiration you'll find plenty here.

Here's how it works:
  1. Create a dish that fits this theme. Blog about it anytime from now till September 10th, 2007.
  2. Email your entry with
    • your name
    • the name of your blog
    • name of dish
    • your permalink
    by September 10th, 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
  5. Although it's great to get entries from all over the world I have to insist that they be in English. If you have a Blog in another language I would kindly like to request you to post your entries in English as well.

I'd like to remind those taking part to please check these guideline carefully and when you send your emails to make sure all the required details are included. Also please check the permalinks you are sending and take a note of the deadline. You will find a comprehensive guideline and event etiquettes for event participation here.

Now over to our Earth Food roundup.

Updates: These are the ones I missed. Sorry!

Daily Bread Journal - Rice and Cauliflower Pilaf
when you make the conscious choice to eat a vegetarian meal, you are asking less of our agricultural production. When you eat the grains, instead of eating the chicken or cow or pig that ate the grain, you are cutting out one step in the chain from plant to human. The fewer the steps, the fewer the resources needed to feed people. So yes, you as an individual can do something to help heal our earth. You needn't do it every day, but if we choose to eat a vegetarian meal twice a week, for instance, we could make a significant impact on our lovely planet.

Tuesday's Gone - Simple Summer Gazpacho
Why is it that the tiny trace of pesticide on an apple is more threatening than the bucket of bleach we use to clean our floors?

Cooking Adventures - Summer Salad with Oranges
The greens and the fruits that were on their way to the trash-can, happily made it into our stomach to offer us a light and nutritious dinner! And that’s what I want to encourage everyone to do. Don’t trash your left-overs.

Curry Bites - Fish Curry
What happens when you watch a movie that deeply influences, raises the questions and suddenly brings clarity to those that has been nagging in your mind for many years?

Taste of Mysore - Stirfried Alternanthera sessilis
Honagone Soppu stirfried with herbs and spices is a joy to eat with hot rice or chapathi or any indian bread. The aroma of these leaves blended with spices is very inviting.

Puu's Cookbook - creme fraiche is the new green
i’ve been accused of being a vegetarian, a vegan, a “crunchy granola hippie,” and a treehugger, and while none of that is true (especially the bit about the vegetables), it IS true that i think a lot about reducing my impact on the environment.

A Mad Tea Party - Mango Jam
The mango and lime trees, the fruits of which were made into this jam grow in my parents’ backyard and were planted by my father. The yard is also the recharge area for all the rainwater from their house; it will flood temporarily during a heavy storm, and then all the water just soaks into the ground. The trees have not really been watered since they were established; they are completely rain-fed.
A strange gourd
It is the real earth food (I will stick to the rules and not send a second entry, Meeta :D ) : growing wild, and becoming a protein rich vegetable (look at the amount of those seeds!) for people living in the harsh arid areas of Western India, where it is hard to grow conventional vegetables.

Foodies Hope - Gazpacho
It is as simple as growing your own vegetables, WITHOUT using the boosters and artificial means like hormones to grow them bigger and "better looking" vegetables.It's about encouraging the farmers to grow more Organic food and encouraging them by buying from the Farmer's market,thus helping them and us in the process of reducing the negative effects of toxic chemicals in our food and environment and also experimenting with "Super foods" which are full of healthy nutrients.Sounds great,huh?:))

Easy Bake Oven - Blueberry Coffeecake
you have probably heard about the 100 mile diet, where people eat foods produced within a 100 mile radius of them. That’s right, folks… it’s possible!

My Kitchen - Homemade Sweet Potato Chips
One of the small actions that we have been practicing consciously to help our earth is using a timer for the heater at nights. The timer is set to turn the heater off automatically 4 hours after we have gone to bed.

Chez Denise et Laudalino - Fava Bean Risotto
...we do have an organic garden growing, hence this meal as well I try to shop locally and organic as much as I can and we also recycle.

Baking Delights - Vegetable Enchiladas
We are restoring an old farmhouse and we are using earth friendly methods and materials as we can. We are looking in to solar power panels, rain collection systems and 0 VOC paint. We raise dairy goats and chickens and I keep trying to have a garden and someday it will even work!

Food Freak - Lemon Lassi
I buy locally grown organic food whenever possible. I am a subscriber to a weekly local organic veggie box scheme, and all dairy I buy is produced by organic standards and locally, because I think that think global, act local is what will have the biggest impact at least in the first world nations.

Ahaar - Summer Pasta Salad
...there is a farmer's market that runs through the year. I've heard about Michigan blueberries, morel mushrooms and the cherries. I can't wait to try them all!

FoodBlogga - Summertime Salsa
Though it’s a small thing, using a canvas tote bag can make a big difference.

Jugalbandi - Pea & Mint Soup
It is also not acceptable to waste food.Growing our own vegetables helps us realise how much water goes into nurturing plant life in the quest to sustain ourselves.
A very small portion of most vegetable plants are consumed, with the majority of their edible parts being thrown away. We have been attempting to use every edible part of the plants we grow and the produce we buy.

Yambalaya - European Gooseberry Jam
We triage our glass bottles and jars, carton, tins and actually everything that can be recycled. We bring it once a month to the designated "decheteries".

For the Love of Food - Vegetable Soup with Pistou
We don’t own or drive a car, instead we walk, bike, take the bus/subway, or rent a car when we really really need one

Mele Cotte - Chocolate Earth Balls
They are not only dairy-free, gluten-free, & vegetarian, but they work perfectly for Meeta’s Monthly Mingle: Earth Food.

The Singing Chef - Cheesy Bread Spread
...If each of us was to say that "Save the World" is a campaign that is meant for the big people and not us, our Earth is going to suffer. It is up to us to do the little things that add up to become the big thing. How do I try? By consuming only what I need, trying not to waste, taking the bus instead of driving, giving to charity not what I don't need or can't use, but what the recipient can actually use, buying fresh produce from the local markets

Tezcape - Organic Heirloom Tomatoes, Blue Cheese and Crackers
...there is already too much pollution (air, water, etc.) around and reducing the use of pesticides in the environment is just one way to ensure less harm done to the environment. Even marked with non-toxic logos, or approved by EPA, synthetic chemicals are still chemicals. Pesticides are mostly synthetic chemicals. Similar to going organic, going natural is by itself self-explanatory - nature should be preserved at its best.

Vegan Visitor - Grilled Polenta with Fresh Tomato Salsa
I recycle - a lot, I compost my food waste, we’ve even changed over our light bulbs. But I’m no savior. I would assume that for every good thing that I do, I’m probably doing something energy sucking in return, like drive a car and run the dishwasher - often. Seriously, the stress from saving the planet could almost be too much to handle.

Mostly Eating - Cucumber, Chili, Mint Salsa
Don't you think trying to shop ethically sometimes seems mind-bogglingly complicated? Should I buy the imported but sun-ripened tomatoes from Spain, or the ones from 50 miles away but that have been grown in a heated greenhouse.

TriniGourmet - Spicay Okra Melee
You would think that with the passing of over 20 years things would be even more advanced now however it seems that in the intervening years we have regressed as a society. Charlie was retired decades ago, and public trash cans are now few and far between. Many think nothing of dropping their litter on the road and walking on.

An Italian in the US - Italian style sweet potato salad
Since I came to the US, I noticed a big difference between people's behavior here and in Italy, and I must say, the comparison does not make America look too good. So, in a sense, it's very easy for me do something that 'makes a difference' here - the standard is low!!!!!!!

Live to Cook - Tangy Oats
The first few months usage of cloth diapers taught me a lot which helped me to design diapers for our need and way of living. Since I didn’t have time to wait for the laundry in the apartments, I hand washed and air dried the diapers. It was nearly 2 1/2 years of efforts. We brought up our son in cloth diapers until he was completely potty trained. We used disposables only during long trips.

AkshayaPatra - Blueberry Milkshake
My family stopped lighting fireworks ever since I was 13. My dad pointed out the hazards created by the debris and noise of fireworks and we kids agreed. The first year was hard but the feeling of satisfaction was immense. On Diwali while all other houses are adding their share to the garbage and noise pollution, we light lamps all over the house and turn off the electric ones.

Food Art and Random Thoughts - Pumpkin, Tomato and Lentil Soup
I am fortunate to live in a city which offers recycling as part of our weekly rubbish collection so we separate out our plastics, glass, papers, cans and regular rubbish.

What's For Lunch, Honey? - Bulgur wiith Mushrooms
Well I guess with age comes wisdom and I took control of my own space. I might not be able to save the planet alone but I can certainly clean up the area around me - my home and my way of thinking. I can become a part of those who have also decided to take action and reduce the impact. As I dug deeper I realized that in actual fact it was a lot easier than I had imagined – the best part was – I was actually contributing to saving the Earth. What a buzz!

I thank all my wonderful guests from the bottom of my heart. As I received each entry and read each post I was really impressed by each and every one of you and all your efforts. There was one entry that really bowled me over.

Priya of Live to Cook and her efforts to raise her child on cloth diapers. I would like to say Kudos to you girl and to show you my appreciation I'd like to send you a little something. Please browse through my photos here or on Flickr Photostream and select your favorite picture. Then send me your address and your photo and I will send this to you in a small poster size. It's the least I can do to say thank you!!

As always if you would like to add your contribution to this roundup link to your post in the comments section of this post. For those whom I missed, please send me a little reminder. I do know that one has gotten lost in my spam and I'll be glad to update the list. Sorry!

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A Quickie: Garlic Shrimp & Eggs on Toasted Bagels

Filled Bagel (01) by Meeta Albrecht

Quick meals, meals in a jiffy, express meals! When out shopping or in the kitchen preparing certain dishes, these are the phrases I keep in my mind. If someone were to look into my kitchen they would probably get a shock when they see the large amounts of food I prepare during most meals. Although we are a little family of three I often cook for double if not triple that number!

Most of my actual cooking is done on the weekend. Then I have time and will prepare bigger and elaborate meals. Throughout the rest of the week however, we normally live off the leftovers. Prepared in different ways, there is always a remanent of something from the weekend. So, if we had rice, pasta or potatoes, I’ll cook double the amounts, freezing the rest. If we had chicken, I’ll buy six chicken breasts instead of just three, grill or broil the three extras – cut up and freeze. Herbs are bought in huge amounts then chopped and frozen in ice-cube trays so that all I need to do is pop a cube into any sauce, soup or dip.

This way during the week, potatoes will be taken out and re-heated in the microwave, a dip made of quark and yogurt with a couple of cubes of herbs is mixed together for a delicious light – and very German – quick meal of “kartoffeln und quark”. The chicken is used in a variety of ways, for example in salads, in rice pilaws or in soups. Pasta too is great as a leftover there are so many varieties of quick and easy sauces, even sometimes from a jar.

What’s more there are so many great convenience food items available in the stores these days that one can prepare meals in under 30 minutes.

Here are a few of my kitchen tips to help reduce your cooking/preparing time to the min.:
  • Onions, garlic and ginger are very often used is Asian/Indian meals. To reduce my preparing time I normally make pastes of each of these ingredients. They are then filled in ice-cube trays. Once frozen I place them in freezer bags and label them.
  • These are my basic sauces and are made in fairly large amounts. One can make any variation of the sauces. Filled in jars and topped off with olive oil they normally last for a 1-3 months. Pesto can be used with any pasta, Arrabiata tastes great when used to stuff chicken and the aglio is often used as a basis for many dishes.
  • Buy in bulk. Veggies like bell peppers, leeks, carrots, beans etc. from the Farmer’s Market can be bought in larger amounts and then frozen. I normally cut up many of my veggies prior to freezing them. Especially for Asian dinners – I 'll cut up the veggies in strips and mix a combo of 3-5 veggie strips in a freezer bags, label them and freeze them. Now nothing comes in the way of a quick fried rice or vegetable noodle dish
  • Indian cooking requires a bit of pre-preparation. A trick I learnt from my mum was to prepare the wet or dry masalas in larger portions. Divide in the portions required and then freeze them. Once frozen put them in freezer bags. Don’t forget to label them. These are so perfect and a quick Indian dinner on a weeknight can be prepared so easily!
  • If you use a lot of herbs in your kitchen and cooking, here’s a great thing I picked up at the Sheraton Kitchen while training: Use scissors to chop up your mint leaves, basil, coriander and even chillies.
  • If you enjoy breads like naan, roti, Lebanese bread or pita. Make a large amount then stack them up, placing a sheet of waxed paper in between each layer, put in a freezer bag and freeze. When required take them out of the freezer and nuke them on low for a few seconds and you could enjoy a quick meal like this one

My meal here was a quick, super express, made-in-10-mins-flat type of meal. Now presuming you have already made these lovely bagels and they were sitting in your freezer waiting to be used in a meal like this one, you’ll have a great dinner made within minutes. A light salad like this pea and lettuce salad is just perfect with it. The shrimps were marinated and frozen in a light garlic sauce, which gave the whole dish a lovely flavour.


Filled Bagel (02) by Meeta Albrecht

4 bagels - homemade or store-bought
4 - 6 fresh eggs - beaten
200 - 250g shrimps - fresh or frozen.
1-2 cubes of mixed herbs - from the freezer of course
1 teaspoon aglio olio
10 - 12 cherry tomatoes - quartered
Cream cheese
Salt and pepper


Filled Bagel (03) by MeetaA

In a pan gently sauté the aglio until fragrant. Add the shrimps and cook for just a minute. Pour in the beaten eggs into the pan, add the herb cubes salt, pepper and the tomatoes. Cook until the eggs are set and to the desired consistency, then break it up with a spatula.

Toast the bagels and spread with cream cheese on each side. Lay out on a plate and spread the shrimp and egg on one side of the bagel. Close withe the other.

Enjoy warm with a light salad.


Filled Bagel (04) by MeetaA

This is a fantastic and very versatile dish. You can just about substitute any ingredient with the shrimp and use and herbs to flavor it differently each time. Very cool is that this you can serve for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner.

For sweet Shaheen, I would like to send this to her Express Cooking event.

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