Sticky Cinnamon Buns

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Sticky Buns (01) by MeetaK


You'll be seeing a lot of gorgeous buns this weekend on the blogesphere. Each one with a story to tell. Buns of all sizes and shapes and I am sure each one will make you want to stick your teeth into them, lick them and luxuriously bite into them.

No, my blog has not gone x-rated - it's just another awesome Daring Baker challenge, which had us all seeing buns in September. Cinnamon, sticky, spiced, fruity and nutty buns.


Our hostess this month was magnificent Marce of the wonderful Pip In The City. Marce was able to select a winner of a challenge. Her aim was to provide us with a challenge that fitted well with the ever growing list of members. No easy task, considering our group has expanded to an incredible size with members in every corner of the world - literally. I can imagine how difficult it must be as a hostess to please everyone. However, when Marce revealed her challenge I think almost everyone in the group was elated by her choice.

I certainly was. I love buns. Sticky, cinnamon rolls drizzled with caramel and topped with nuts and fruit. I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the delicious rolls from Cinnabon. They taste incredible and I cannot even begin to put their exquisite taste into words. I just can say one thing I am so glad that there is not a Cinnabon outlet here in Gemany otherwise I know it would be my downfall! In Dubai - it's a whole different story though. With Cinnabon outlets dotted all across the city, it becomes hard to avoid the wonderful fragrance of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafting in the air.

Thanks to Marce and this challenge I had the opportunity of making my own sticky buns. Something I had not done to date. I am beginning to think it was a big mistake to actually go ahead with the challenge. These were even more addicting than any Cinnabon roll I have ever tasted - and it comes from my own kitchen and is easy to bake and yes, I have already made two batches ever since the challenge was announced and yes I think my waistline will explode soon and yes I have been doing extra rounds at the gym to keep it under control. Marce, how could you!!! ;-)

As with each challenge we were allowed a few modifications, otherwise we were supposed to stick to the recipe. The modifications allowed were:
  • We did not have to use cinnamon, but could use any other spices or a mix.
  • We could do both cinnamon and sticky buns or simply choose one.
  • We did not have to use any nuts for the sticky buns if we did not want to.
  • We could substitute the raisins for any other dried fruit.
  • Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region
I decided to go for sticky cinnamon buns topped with walnuts and cranberries. I would have preferred to use pecans but in Weimar finding Pecans is not so easy. They are mostly available from October and are rather expensive.

Sticky Buns (04) by MeetaK


It's a classic combination and I love the tart flavor the cranberries gave the buns. The recipe provided by Marce was really easy to follow and I had absolutely no trouble with the dreaded yeast. For all those who enjoy a good sticky roll for breakfast I urge you to give these a try. You won't regret it.


Days to Make: One (1)
Active/Resting/Baking Time: 15 minutes to mix, 3 1/2 hours fermentation/shaping/proofing, 20 - 40 minutes to bake
Recipe Quantity: Eight(8) - twelve (12) large rolls or twelve (12) - sixteen (16) small rolls

Making the Dough

Ingredients:

95g (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
80g (2.75 ounces) unsalted butter or margarine
1 large egg - slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon - I used the zest of 1 lime
500g (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast*
300ml (1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups) whole milk or buttermilk - at room temperature
cinnamon sugar - made of approximately 80g granulated sugar plus 12g ground cinnamon (or any other spices you want to use, cardamom, ginger, allspice, etc.)
Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts (for sticky buns.)
Raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (for sticky buns, optional.)

For cinnamon buns you will additionally need:
White fondant glaze - recipe below
For Sticky buns you will additionally need
Caramel glaze - recipe below

*Instant yeast contains about 25% more living cells per spoonful than active dry yeast, regardless of the brand. Instant yeast is also called rapid-rise or fast-rising.

Step 1- Making the Dough:
Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand).

Whip in the egg and lemon/lime extract/zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Step 2 - Fermentation:
Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Step 3 - Form the Buns:
Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Proceed as shown in the photo for shaping the buns.


Transcription: (A) Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don´t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump. (B)Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and (C) roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

Step 4 - Prepare the Buns for Proofing:
  • For cinnamon buns: line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they are not touching but are close to one another.
  • For sticky buns: coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.


Step 5 - Proof the Buns:
Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

Step 6 - Bake the Buns:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (350F) with the oven rack in the middle shelf for cinnamon buns but on the lowest shelf for sticky buns.

Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or the sticky buns 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Sticky Buns (03) by MeetaK


If you are baking sticky buns, remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. It takes practice to know just when to pull the buns out of the oven.

Step 8 - Cool the buns:
For cinnamon buns, cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving.

For the sticky buns, cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

Toppings for the Buns:

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without any flavorings.

Sift 520g (4 cups) of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 118 ml (1/2 cup) of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.

When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops. Or, form the streaks by dipping your fingers in the glaze and letting it drip off as you wave them over the tops of the buns. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)

Caramel glaze for sticky buns

Caramel glaze is essentially some combination of sugar and fat, cooked until it caramelizes. The trick is catching it just when the sugar melts and lightly caramelizes to a golden amber. Then it will cool to a soft, creamy caramel. If you wait too long and the glaze turns dark brown, it will cool to a hard, crack-your-teeth consistency. Most sticky bun glazes contain other ingredients to influence flavor and texture, such as corn syrup to keep the sugar from crystallizing and flavor extracts or oils, such as vanilla or lemon. This version makes the best sticky bun glaze.
NOTE: you can substitute the corn syrup for any neutral flavor syrup, like cane syrup or gold syrup.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 95g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar, 100g (1/2 cup) firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 230g (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.


Verdict

Sticky Buns (05) by MeetaK

Making these buns was a real breeze and rather comforting. The steps were easy and the ingredients were not exotic or difficult to handle. I was amazed that something that looks like a lot of work is in actual fact so simple. The results were extraordinary. Soft, moist and sticky. The recipe yielded 12 buns and these were gone in a matter of a couple of days. As a matter of fact I found that the taste of the ingredients got better. Just one word of warning though - make these at your own risk. They taste too good and are far too difficult to resist. Especially with the aroma of lovely fruit, nuts and cinnamon lingering in the air.

I thank Marce from the bottom of my heart for this one. Without you I think I would still be dreaming about Cinnabon rolls instead of making my own buns.

If you want to see more hot Daring Bakers' buns then click your way down the blogroll. Have fun drooling!

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Grilled Peach with Eucalyptus Honey Yogurt and Roasted Almonds

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Grilled Peach (02) by MeetaK


When I look out of the window right now I can hardly believe I made this dessert just last weekend. The sun was shining in a crystal, clear, blue sky and with temperatures between 25 and almost 30 degrees C it was almost like one last trip into summer. An Indian Summer! We decided to visit our friends who live about 2 hours drive from here, in Bavaria in a beautiful mountain region. After spending the whole day trekking and canoing we decided to barbecue for the last time this year.

I was put in charge of creating dessert.



It seems like I am often put in charge of the dessert when cooking with friends. To be honest I do not really think I am a great dessert maker and would rather spend my time thinking up a great marinade or dip.

For this particular dessert I wanted to make use of some fresh summery fruit still available in supermarkets here. Light but exquisite was what was floating in my head when we went to the store to buy our groceries for the barbecue.

I was rather excited to still see peaches and almost a whole crate went into our cart. We all know the perfect pendant to peaches is cream but I was thinking of something lighter. Finally with a few of the items I placed in the cart for the dessert, the look on my friend Katja's face was one of skepticism. I smiled and told her to relax. She'd get her perfect treat I promised.

Today it's been raining "cats and dogs" - non-stop and it's cold. Really brrrr cold. So, looking at the pictures of the dessert I made, brought in a little bit of virtual sunshine. I figured one or two of you out there could also use a bit of spoiling and summer sunshine so I'd like to share my interpretation of peaches and cream with you.



Ingredients

Grilled Peach (03) by MeetaK


4 - 5 fresh, juicy, ripe peaches - cut in half and pit removed
400 g thick Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons flavored honey - I used a wonderful Eucalyptus honey, but Lavender honey would also be fantastic.
4 -5 tablespoons almonds - chopped or cut into slices.



Method

Grilled Peach (01) by MeetaK


In a small mixing bowl whisk the yogurt with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons honey. Keep cool.

Dry roast the almonds in a non-stick pan until fragrant and golden. Take out and mix together with the remaining juice and honey. Set aside.

On the barbecue simply place the peaches cut sides facing down on the grill of your barbecue. You will receive best results if you cover the grill with some thick aluminum foil. Grill the peaches for 2-4 minutes.

You can also make these using a grill pan on your stove. Place the peaches without addition of any fat cut sides facing down in the pan. Grill for 2-4 minutes until the peaches are slightly golden and just a tiny bit softer.

In small serving dessert bowls place the peach in the middle, pour some of the yogurt over the top and spoon a generous helping of the honey almonds.



Verdict

Grilled Peach (04) by MeetaK


A beautiful way to end the summer with a delicate, light and fruity dessert. I loved the flavor the Eucalyptus honey paired with the fruity, ripeness of the peaches. It was a wonderful and luxurious taste. My friend Katja apologized for not believing in me and promised never to doubt me again. while helping herself to another portion - LOL! I won't let her in on my secret - I am never exactly sure the things I create in my head will actually be as good as I imagine them to be. I guess I was lucky with this one!


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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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Figs in Cherry Caramel

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Figs In Cherry Caramel (01) by MeetaK

The wait is over and after a wonderful weekend away I now present and spoil you with a lovely dessert that will make mouths water. Provided you are a figs fan and provided you like desserts that are easy, sweet and fantastically delicate. I think that's pretty much covering many of my lovely readers.


Growing up in the Middle East, I ate figs like many eat apples. They were readily available and my mother used figs in various dishes she experimented with. I can remember our fruit bowl was almost always filled with fruits that many would call "exotic" but for us they were the norm and figs were a regular part of that norm.

Figs In Cherry Caramel (02) by MeetaK


Coming to Germany I was rather surprised that there are so many people - at least in my circle of friends - who stay clear of this luscious fruit. They are simply not sure what to do with it! Eat it for crying out loud is what I say. Then comes the never ending question - with or without the skin? I almost always have to roll my eyes. See I am the type of person who eats a fig - skin and all. That is part of the experience of biting into this fruit.


Figs

Figs (06) by MeetaK


The texture of figs combines a smoothness of their skin, chewiness of their flesh and the crunchiness of their seeds. I have often wondered why the "Apple" was the chosen fruit in the Garden of Eden when Eve could have used the sultry Fig. But that is another story. For me figs are reminiscent of ancient times, like the olive and symbolize lush sensuality in taste and texture.

There are several botanical types of fig but within these there are hundreds of commercial varieties. They form a wide spectrum of flavor, sweetness, size and color, ranging from purple to brown, green-gold, black or even white. In the Mediterranean regions, there are usually two crops, with the season stretching from June through to October and November. It is these second-crop figs that are usually dried.

Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the Mulberry family. They are unique in that they have an opening, called the "ostiole" or "eye," which is not connected to the tree, but which helps the fruit's development, aiding it in communication with the environment.

Figs dramatically range in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety. There are more than one hundred and fifty different varieties of figs. Some of the most popular varieties are:
  • Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh
  • Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh
  • Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh
  • Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh
  • Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh
Figs are best eaten as ripe as possible, when they’re just on the point of bursting. Look for the telltale honey-like drop of moisture on the surface. Ripe figs, however, are highly perishable and will not keep for longer than three days in the fridge. Thin-skinned and easily bruised, they need careful handling and should be wrapped for travel in tissue.
My little secret tip: bring out their delicate scent and flavor by leaving them in the sun for an hour or so before serving.

Health Benefits
Figs have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruits. An excellent source of potassium, figs help to control blood pressure. Figs are also high in calcium, which protects bone density. Moreover, their potassium may reduce the amount of calcium lost as a result of high-salt diets. The fruit is also a source of iron, vitamin B6 and the trace mineral manganese.

Figs boast higher quantities of fiber than any other dried or fresh fruit. Insoluble fiber protects against colon and breast cancer, while soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol. Figs offer both types in one compact package. Since Americans on average eat less than half the minimum amount of dietary fiber thought to be necessary for good health, figs are a sweet and easy way to increase intake. Diets rich in fiber may also help manage weight. Additionally, figs’ fiber makes them a mild laxative.

As with many fruits and vegetables, figs are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols, plant-based antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Studies show that dried figs have a phenol makeup ranging from 4 to 50 times higher than other fruits. Dried figs also contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and improve immune function.

Selecting and Storing
As fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two prior to eating. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. Hold the fig close to your nose and smell them. Their aroma can also give you clues into their freshness and taste. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled.

Keep ripe figs should in the refrigerator where they will stay fresh for about two days. Since they have a delicate nature and can easily bruise, they should stored either arranged on a paper towel-lined plate or shallow container. They should be covered or wrapped in order to ensure that they do not dry out, get crushed or pick up odors from other foods. If you have purchased slightly under-ripe figs, you should keep them on a plate, at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Dried figs will stay fresh for several months and can either be kept in a cool, dark place or stored in the refrigerator. They should be well wrapped so that they are not over exposed to air that may cause them to become hard or dry.

Before eating or cooking figs, wash them under cool water and then gently remove the stem. Gently wipe dry.

Figs are best eaten fresh and pure. However, they are so versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. I love adding figs to a fresh salad, stuffing them with goats cheese or simply drizzled with honey and natural yogurt.

If you are looking for more great ideas, check out this month's Sugar High Friday over at lovely Ivonne's, who brilliantly chose The Beautiful Fig as her theme. Ivonne I'm sending you a huge hug and a large bowl of my Figs in Cherry Caramel. Something tells me you might like this one. I also recommend this dessert to all those of you who have not played around with figs before. The sweet and aromatic combination of figs with the cherry caramel is incredibly delicate. A taste I know you will love.


Ingredients

Figs In Cherry Caramel (04) by MeetaK


8 fresh figs - washed, wiped dry and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 l cherry juice
100 ml red wine
100g cantuccini/biscotti - coarsely chopped


Method

Figs In Cherry Caramel (03) by MeetaK


In a saucepan melt the sugar on medium heat until it caramelizes into a wonderful amber color. Pour in the cherry juice. The sugar will crystalize but stirring it on the heat will re-melt it again. Reduce the entire mixture to about a quarter - this takes about 5-8 minutes.

Add the wine and gently heat through. Add the figs to the sauce and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, spoon the figs with the cherry caramel sauce into bowls and generously sprinkle with cantuccini.


Verdict

Figs In Cherry Caramel (05) by MeetaK


A dessert for a perfect end to a wonderful dinner for two. Sensual, sultry and seductive - how can your partner refuse you, your dessert and anything else you request ;-)


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A Culinary Delicacy

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Purely Figs (01) by MeetaK


I absolutely adore Figs. They are a culinary delicacy par excellence. Part of the wonder of the fig comes from its unique taste and texture. Figs are lusciously sweet and feature a complex texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds.

Growing up I used to eat figs like others eat apples and ever since my sweetest Ivonne chose The Beautiful Fig as her theme to this months Sugar High Friday these luscious fruits have come into fashion in the blog world.

Purely Figs (02) by MeetaK


I had a great time with my figs - created a few great dishes and recipes and took some great photographs. Hope you'll come back on the weekend to see what I was busy doing with them. In the meantime enjoy a couple of the photos. I find them rather drool-worthy ;-)




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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Opposites Attract: Peaches & Tomatoes

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Tomato Peach Salad (04) by MeetaK


An unusual combination you think. Well not entirely - as we all know opposites have always found a way to harmonize with each other in perfect unity. It's true with us humans and it certainly is the truth with food.

What I love about food is that we have the opportunity to test and try - experiment with several ingredients - until we find a pairing that fits together so well that one would think they have always belonged together.


Dishes like these are also so interesting because the story or the moments one experiences while creating them, always seems to be worth telling.

Tomato Peach Salad (03) by MeetaK


For this particular salad, it was the moments I really cherished. The three of us seemed to have gathered in the kitchen and simply started cooking. There was no particular goal or plan really - we were just hungry and decide to prepare something, what ever the fridge or the pantry would give.

Chatting and laughing - sometimes even arguing about things and ingredients. Our favorite pass time is "make believe". Soeren seems to really love such moments. He beams in his red apron. He is the Sous Chef in a kitchen of a famous restaurant. The restaurant is full and there are many important people waiting to be served. I am almost always the Master Chef and Tom plays the part of my second hand.

Tomato Peach Salad (05) by MeetaK


Today's special is an intriguing salad. A tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella - all normal you say - but we add beautiful, ripe and sweet peach slices to make this salad so unbelievably different and promise you it's nothing like any tomato salad you have ever tasted.

Reservations for how many people?




Ingredients

Tomato Peach Salad (01) by MeetaK


750g ripe tomatoes - cut into quarters or eights, depending on their size
2 ripe peaches - sliced
150g mini mozzarella balls - use buffalo mozzarella for a wonderful intense flavor
Juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Freshly cracked pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
Handful of mint leaves - coarsely chopped




Method

Tomato Peach Salad (06) by MeetaK


In a mixing bowl, slightly salt the tomatoes. Add the peach slices and the mozzarella balls and mix together.

Mix the lemon juice with the sugar and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until thick and frothy. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and peaches. Sprinkle with the mint leaves and serve with olive ciabatta.




Verdict

Tomato Peach Salad (07) by MeetaK


Can such opposites actually suit the palate? The only way you'll ever find out is to try it out yourself - that or you make reservations at our famous restaurant. ;-)
What I love about this salad is that with each bite the tongue experiences a new flavor - tomatoes mixed with peaches or peaches and mint or mint and tomatoes. No two bites are the same.

Looking for more salad ideas?
Warm Vegetable Salad
Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Avocado
Warm Garlic Potato Salad
Strawberry Asparagus Salad


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Monthly Mingle: Liquid Dreams Roundup

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Hope you all are thirsty? Because this mingle we had drinks galore. I think this will go down as one of my personal favorites - I have never seen so many great and creative drink ideas. So many unique, unusual and interesting combinations were served, that I think I will have to re-think and redo my bar!

In total we had forty refreshing, fruity, soothing and fun drinks. Each one was colorful and wonderful in its own way.


Some chose old and loved drinks others tried their hand at creating something totally different. Whatever it was I can tell they sure do sound incredibly delicious.

Before I get into the roundup, just a quick note about the next mingle. I'll be taking a break from mingling with all my beloved guests for the following month. As I am traveling to Dubai next month I will be more involved in having a great time with my parents and simply enjoying them. So, I hope you will excuse me and join me again when I return from my trip. I'll be announcing the theme towards the end of October. In the meantime browse through our previous Mingles.

So now onto the Liquid Dreams - cheers, a votre sante and prost!


Rina's Recipes - Peanutbutter Milkshake
I had this Peanut butter milkshake from one of our friend's from Trinidad. I guess she is in New York now visiting her daughter. It was very tasty that I got the recipe of this protein drink from her at once.


The Art and Science of Food - Iced Cucumber Limeade
If you go to Acehnese restaurants in Indonesia you will see this beverage on the menu. It's perfect combination for Acehnese food which is spicy. It's so refreshing and also good for people who have high blood pressure.


Sreelu's Tasty Travels - Kesar Falooda
The cool thing about Falooda is it can double as a drink or a dessert. Perfect for a warm summer night, this drink is very versatile in terms of flavor, some of the most popular flavors being Rose, Kesar, and Mango etc...


SoFeminine - Mango Drink
Whenever i see raw mangoes my mind just clicks to make some aam panna ......a wonderful drink that just soothes the whole body n is just so refreshing


A Mad Tea Party - Sunny Salubri Tea
I brewed the tea in the sun for some time; you could also brew it in cool water on your kitchen counter.


All things Edible - Ice Green Tea Latte
Turns out I could recreate my own green tea latte at home using nothing but milk, matcha powder, and melon syrup.


Veggie Venture - Green Smoothies
While I wanted to 'try' a green smoothie, I really didn't expect to like it. But I do!


The Singing Chef - Strawberry Fizz
Ice cream sodas! I'd read about them all the time while growing up. Archies and his gang are always at Pop Tate's having ice cream sodas.


The Literate and Liberate Foodie - Ginger Lemongrass Cooler
There's barbeque smoke and smells in the air every weekend in my neighborhood. As I walk past homes and the nearby park, I see families and friends, the young and old, having a good time.


Hunger Pangs - Citrus Overload
My earliest memory of drinking would be when i was 17...my best friend's parents had gone out of town..so i went to spend the night at her place. She, her younger sis who was 16 and me opened her dad's whisky and had it.. i really do not remember how it tasted..us doing something improper..was good enough for us.


Batter Splattered - Basil Vodka Gimlets
This Liquid Dreams event was a happy coincidence for me because lately I've laying on the couch after work, staring up at the basil plant on the windowsill -- it's big and getting bigger all the time. Now that I've managed to nurse it into a healthy state, I needed a reason to pluck those buttery-soft green leaves.


An Italian in the US - Girly Caipi
I'm going to present here this variation on the 'Caipirinha' theme that I created a few nights ago. Does everyone know what Caipirinha is?


Yambalaya - Kir Safari
Years ago, when I was a student, a friend and me had signed in to stand behind the bar of our student building. So every thursday evening for some 6 months it was up to us to serve beer and other drinks. As in all student towns Thursday evening is the big evening to go out, so most of the time the bar at our student building was quiet. We decided that we wanted to do things different. So every Thursday evening we had a different theme. One evening was our safari evening. We invented 6 cocktails based on Safari liquor. We organized a slide show with pictures from Africa, and we had full house. What fun we had.


Amma's Special - Lemony Rosy Coconut Tender
Finally remembered a drink which I tasted in “Hotel Annalakshmi” in Coimbatore. Its an authentic hotel which serves innovative vegetarian dishes.


Cooking 4 All Seasons - Strawberry Milkshake
For almost two days, she was only uttering this statement. Where is my Milkshake? so finally got down getting it done. Was she happy! She just loved it so much that I felt bad in not getting it done sooner for her.


For the Cook In Me - Easy Vegetable Soup
That's when it suddenly struck me that I need not make something that should necessarily go into a fancy glass. I can make something nice and hot, and simple too.


Cookery Corner - Carrot-Almond Cooler
This is a very nutritious, filling drink that my friend Raji makes. It was a tasty way of getting carrots, badam and saffron in her diet during her pregnancy


Cooking at Pragyan's - Mango Lassi
A summer evening with Mango Lassi (yogurt-drink) and a good book to give company is perfect! You will have to get the book as per your taste.


HomeMadeS - Ginger Tea
Later these days, I make my children drink ginger tea to prevent gassy stomach, especially, when they eat too rapidly. It can be taken with lemonade, a handful of mint, and chilled water.





Thyme For Food - A Sunrise
I wanted to do something that was mainstream but give it my own little twist, which is not easy when there are so many variations of of every cocktail, aperitif, long drink, etc out there. I went on a whim and decided to make something I call a Cuban Sunrise, ...


Aarti's Corner - Blackberry Milkshake
I was introduced to this fruit called Blackberry 2 months back when we visited city of Bensheim in Germany. This city is famous for wine grapes and there were plenty of blackberry trees bordering the grapeyards.. Until then, I used to look at these as some wild fruits but when my friend just grabbed some and started feasting on them, I had to try it!


Cooking the Books - Strawberries and Cream
It’s called pink piggy smoothie in our house, because it’s the same colour as my little one’s cute cuddly toy who she aptly named ‘Pink Piggy’!


Adhi Potoba - Sugar Cane Juice
Getting thrown out of class was a very common thing for vagabond students such as myself and one desperately needed a place to park in such an event. In Model Colony at the edge of Shirke's Sugarcane Farm, they had cleared 10000 sq. ft. of land and put some tables and bamboo chairs. And at one end there was a shed with a sugarcane juice machine. One Rupee for a tall, cold one.


Nerd Family - Great Punch
I make this for just about every major event and it is always a hit. Finally a punch that isn't just sugary sweet.


Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen - Cuban Mojito
First, let´s get drunk and then, I ll tell you a bit about myself.


Culinary Escapades - Nature ka nasha
The honey dew melon that sat in the fridge for a few days made its presence felt by flavouring everything from the milk (vessel covered with a lid) to the butter (closed butter case)…… while K mentioned that the tea tasted different, I racked my brains about what to do with it ...


Hot n' Sweet Bowl - Strawberry Latte
The main rocking feature in latte is the milk froth on the top.......I use blender to create this froth.....I want the latte to be nice smooth and silky, for that heavenly texture I use strawberry syrup


Baking History - Mint Julep
The coolness of mint is balanced by the tartness of lemon in this very pleasant and refreshing drink


Live to Eat - Lychee Tangita
Making up a cocktail recipe is easy; coming up with a name for it - not so! After a couple of these drinks, the best I could come up with was LycheeTangita, if you can think of a better name, let me know.


Finger Licking Food - Berrynanalicious
No, I’m not talking about a weird fruit or vegetable but a drink or rather a name for a drink I concocted in my kitchen...hehe! Berrynanalicious is a combination of Strawberries and Banana with milk, sugar and a dash of fresh cream. A tasty delight on a hot summer day!


Cara's Cravings - Blackberry Pear Flirtini
Several months ago, I enjoyed a delicious martini at one of our favorite local restaurants, The Struck. Their ever-changing list of seasonal libations has something for everyone, and for me this time it was a blackberry pear martini. It was sweet and refreshing, and though I don't normally choose to eat pears, I really enjoyed the flavor complimented by tart blackberries in this drink.


Fun and Food - Mango Raspberry Thickshake
Drinks are the best for experimenting with your culinary skills!! They involve very little "actual" work though you might have to strain your gray cells to think of suitable ingredients and judge their compatibility!!


Aroma! - Carib Cream
I have an old Cocktail book ,the only one I own,which I bought in England. It has many many cocktails with Alcohol and at the end of the book, thankfully they have spared few pages for Non-alcoholic cocktails too. Of all the recipes they have ,I chose the easiest and tastiest. Kids loved it, so here it is!!


Malabar Ruchi - Avocado Milkshake
I celebrated this moment with a glass of Avocado milk shake that day


Carrie's Cooking Adventures - Root Beer Float
While on our honeymoon the special drink of our resort was a alcoholic root beer float. It was soo good, I think I had one every night while on our honeymoon.


Algerian Cuisine by Farid Zadi - Algerian Coffee with Almond Cherbet
My liquid dream (pardon me) is Algerian Coffee with Almond Cherbet (ice). This is an incredibly easy and delicious iced coffee. I used Natural Almond Syrup (Sciroppo Orzata) from Sicily since there are no Algerian brands available in the States.


The Pastry Princess - Blood Orange Basil Cocktail
I wish I could have invited you all over for the celebration, but my tiny apartment isn’t such a gracious host when she has a crowd. A few friends and my younger sister did, however, visit me from Pennsylvania for a sweet weekend. When assuming the hostess role, I love to treat my guests well.


Foodie Confidential - Super-simple Lemon Squash
I swear this squash 'tastes' of sunshine. Maybe that's just in my mind, but I swear it does! It's one of the simplest thing I've ever tried to make.


Talk of Tomatoes - Silky Pear Cocktail
I could not hide a smile when thinking of his grandma opening a gift that encourages imbibing. Maybe we should throw in some martini olives for good measure?


My Kitchen Treasures - Blue Hawaiian
Naturally i blame my drinking habbit on my mother in law, she is the one who taught me and my sister in law to enjoy drinks.


Welcome to my Kitchen - Simple Milk Shake
Well, this one I made when I felt like having milk shake after a long gap.


What's For Lunch, Honey? - Passion Fruit & Orange Kefir Shake
You know the feeling you get after you have done something especially good for your body, like a good workout, it tingles and feels rejuvenated. That is the description I can give you after drinking this Kefir shake.



Hope you all enjoyed this round of the Monthly (hic!). I certainly did. Hope to see you back here real soon. In the meantime if you would like to share your own drink please go ahead and add it to the comment section of this post!

23 comments Continue »

Sneak Peak

| 7 comments


Just wanted to give you a sneak peak of what's coming up - the Monthly Mingle round up for Liquid Dreams. Lots of great entries and these are just half of them!!

Stay tuned!
7 comments Continue »

Home: Accepting Autumn

| 29 comments
Berry Bouquet (01) by MeetaK


Autumn does have its beautiful aspects. Ever since I started taking photography a little more seriously I have really come to appreciate seasons under a totally different light. Colors are more vivid, things that would previously go unnoticed, stand out in all their beauty.

It's just so hard to accept it straight after summer - and so soon.


I decided to bring in the rich Autumn colors and the distinctive foliage, I personify Autumn with, into my living room in the form of a gorgeous looking bouquet. Shades of orange, red and yellow, highlighted with green, remind me that soon we will be able to view the spectacular changes in the scenery as the leaves and fields turn color. Rose hip, physallis, mini pumpkins and apples and ivy are all plants, berries and fruit I associate with Autumn.

I wanted to have all this in a nice little arrangement and after thinking about it for a while I realized I could collect all the items required for my bouquet in free nature. So one afternoon I wrapped Soeren and myself in warm sweaters and boots and we went for a walk around our neighborhood and the fields.

Berry Bouquet (02) by MeetaK



We borrowed rose hip, berries and physallis from a few neighbor's shrubs, collected ivy and other leaves from the street side bushes, plucked baby apples from the several trees growing on a field behind our house - the only thing I actually bought was the mini pumpkin.


Once I had all my items together I asked my darling florist neighbor for advice and help. Together we arranged the bouquet to fit my small circular vase - not too high and not to wide. Once finished it looked spectacular and I do have to admit I am now looking forward to Autumn with a bit more anticipation.

Creating your own Autumn bouquet is really easy as many of the things can be found either in our backyards, on the roads we travel to and from everyday, in forests or fields. So, the next time you are out and about all you need to do is take a small basket and collect anything you think you can use. Then follow the the advice from my neighbor.
  • Make sure you have a variety of leaves, fall flowers and berries - for an elegant looking bouquet try keeping the colors in tone with each other.
  • Measure the vase you would like to place the bouquet in and then make sure you cut the leaves and flowers according to the length of that vase.
  • Remove extra leaves and foliage from the bottom of the stems - a few centimeters
  • Place the main object - in my case it was the pumpkin - in the center of the arrangement. We fixed the pumpkin (the apples too) on a long wooden shashlik spear.
  • Add bits of green at an angle to the object.
  • Add the rest of your items to the arrangement until you get a nice round appearance


  • Berry Bouquet (03) by MeetaK


  • Fill and gaps with berries, leaves or flowers.
  • Use a rubber band to keep the stems together.
  • Cut the stems at the required length.
  • Cover the stems with a few layers of colored ribbon.
  • You can use so many beautiful and interesting Fall colored flowers and fauna. Maple. nandina, pink or red oak and persimmon leaves are all perfect for a Fall arrangement and chrysanthemums, marigolds and asters are flowers that last a long time in your bouquet.
  • Keep your bouquet in vase filled with warm water as this will help it last longer. Also change the water every two days so that the stems do not wilt and the water does not become murky


Berry Bouquet (04) by MeetaK>


Looking at the bouquet I have to admit Autumn will have its great moments. I loved putting this bouquet together. It actually started with our walk - Soeren is full of energy and bubbling with ideas so a simple walk always turns out to be a great experience. Then the few hours I spent with my lovely neighbor I mentioned in this post were wonderful. I just love her and her sense of humor and although she is much older than I am I still feel like she understands me without me having to say much. The bouquet now reminds me of these moments.

Hope you have fun making your own!

This is my Centerpiece of the Month going over to Janelle.


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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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Souper: Red Bell Pepper Soup

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Bell Pepper Soup (03) by MeetaK


I am still having trouble accepting the fact that we are heading into colder weather. Wasn't it just yesterday when I was sharing some lovely spring and summer shots with you all?

Today I actually picked up the first yellow maple leaf from the pavement! It's been raining, dull and cold all week and I have already taken out my boots, scarfs and warmer sweaters. On Saturday we went shopping for warmer clothes for Soeren.

Then earlier today some good friends who live in Switzerland invited us over to spend New Year's with them. Man! It's gone by too fast.

Another thing that had me thinking how fast the year has zoomed by, is the fact that Tami over at Running With Tweezers is already hosting the second annual Souper Challenge. Although the first Souper Challenge was in November 2006 it's still hard to believe that we're all thinking soup for her event so soon again.

I do love soups and am delighted to be a part of Tami's great event again. This is a wonderful tasting soup - well balanced, light, healthy and quick. The hint of maple syrup and cayenne pepper gives the soup a wonderful contrasting highlight. Served with fish wraps or cheese sandwiches this soup makes the perfect weeknight dinner.


Ingredients

Bell Pepper Soup (02) by MeetaK


4 red bell peppers - de-seeded and coarsely chopped
2 red onions - finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika powder
500 ml tomato juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Dash of cayenne pepper
Salt
Freshly cracked black pepper




Method

Bell Pepper Soup (01) by MeetaK


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Sauté the pepper and onions for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle with paprika powder. Allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Pour in the tomato juice and maple syrup. Add the dash of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

With a puree machine puree the soup finely. If you find it too thick add some more tomato juice, however my recommendation is that this soup tastes best thick and creamy.

Serve on pre-warmed soup plates with a splodge of sour cream.



Verdict

Bell Pepper Soup (04) by MeetaK


This soup is comforting and warming. I find the flavors perfect for this time of year. The summery tomatoes and peppers with the sweetness of the maple syrup and sharpness of cayenne pepper harmonize perfectly with each other. Just like me, the soup still leans towards Summer in it's lightness but offers the full bodied flavor of all things Autumn.

More soups on WFLH:
Souper Challenge 2006: Pea Soup
Ginger Carrot Soup with Lemon Cream
Coco Mango Soup
Italian Vegetable Soup with Gnocchi
Spinach Soup with Coconut Milk




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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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Passion Fruit & Orange Kefir Shake

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Passion fruit Orange Shake (02a) by MeetaK


There's a slight nip in the air and the temperatures are hardly rising above 15 degrees C. Autumn's around the corner. Each year at around this time of year I feel rather melancholic - saying goodbye to Summer in favor for colder days is never easy for me. Being down with a flu at the moment does not brighten up the situation either.


Having said that, Autumn does have it's up sides too. I enjoy the turning of the leaves and the wonderful oranges, yellows and browns that Autumn brings with it. Even in terms of food Autumn brings along great produce like pumpkins, apples and pears. So, I am sure there will be a lot of exciting stuff going on here at WFLH this Autumn.

Being a bit under the weather my appetite is not too hot right now so I have been relying on my blender and a variety of different liquids, fruit and vegetable to keep me going. One brilliant creation I concocted this week was a drink made out of Kefir with passion fruit and orange. Refreshing and healthy, so I figured to share this for my own entry to Liquid Dreams, the theme to this month's Monthly Mingle.


Kefir
Kefir (kee-fer) also known as kewra, talai, mudu kekiya is basically a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance the "inner ecosystem" to maintain optimal health and strengthen immunity. It's origins date back many centuries ago, in the Northern Caucasus Mountains located in the former Soviet Union.

The word kefir is said to be derived from the Turkish word keif, which loosely translates to "feel good". This is for the obvious increase in a sense of well-being experienced by drinking kefir regularly.

Kefir is prepared by culturing cow, goat, or sheep's milk with kefir grains, which are not to be mistaken for cereal grains. Kefir can best be described as a sort of sparkling yogurt in liquid form, with its own distinct and deliciously mild, naturally sweet, yet tangy flavor—with a refreshing hint of natural carbonation. Its unique taste and almost supernatural reputation as a longevity drink is probably why people all over Europe are making kefir their beverage of choice. In Germany over the years Kefir has gained popularity to immense extents and many mixed drinks and shakes are available at the supermarket containing this superfood.

Health Benefits
Kefir has many reputed health benefits. It has antibiotic and antifungal properties. It's been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including metabolic disorders, atherosclerosis, and allergies, tuberculosis, cancer, poor digestion, osteoporosis, hypertension, HIV and heart disease.

In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir also contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. In particular it contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, B2 and B12, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin D. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also has an abundance of calcium and magnesium, also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly calming effect on the nerves.

The abundance of enzymes brings more health benefits, especially to lactose intolerant people, many of whom can tolerate kefir without difficulty, as long as the kefir is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the enzymes).

Kefir can be easily prepared at home, just as it has been done over many centuries. Fresh, non-pasteurised or pasteurised full-cream, low fat or non-fat milk is poured into a clean suitable container with the addition of kefir grains. Any fresh milk-type available can be used to make kefir. The contents are left to stand at room temperature for approximately 24 hours. The cultured-milk is strained in order to separate the kefir grains from the liquid-kefir. The grains are then added to more fresh milk, and the process is simply repeated. This simple procedure can be performed on an indefinite basis as kefir grains last forever.

The strained liquid-kefir may either be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or ripened at room temperature over a period of days. The ripening process is useful for individuals who wish to reduce lactose in their kefir. Ripening improves overall flavor, increases specific vitamins of the B group, while carbon dioxide and alcohol content is increased also.

Helpful links:
I have been following the instructions here to make my own Kefir at home.
Kefir starter kit.
Further information on Wikipedia
Where to find Kefir (UK & USA).



Ingredients

Passion fruit Orange Shake (03) by MeetaK


2 passion fruits - pulp and seeds only
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
200 ml kefir



Method

Passion fruit Orange Shake (01) by MeetaK


Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz for at least a minute until smooth. If you find it too thick add some more orange juice.

Using a fine meshed strainer, strain the kefir into glasses.

Cheers!



Verdict

Passion fruit Orange Shake (04) by MeetaK


You know the feeling you get after you have done something especially good for your body, like a good workout, it tingles and feels rejuvenated. That is the description I can give you after drinking this Kefir shake. Taste wise it is fruity and tangy with just a little hint of yeast not at all unpleasant.

This is also a brilliant drink for breakfasts for those who are unable to eat solid food in the morning. If you want to get rid of a few extra pounds, you will find, drinking kefir/buttermilk shakes also will help you get to your ideal weight. More about getting rids of the extra summer pounds in Helene's great article Meal frequency and calorie intake.


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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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Tomatoes in Agrodolce - A Tuscan Experience

| 26 comments
Tomatoes in Agrodolce (03) by MeetaK

It's that time of year again when the gorgeous Ivonne and the lovely Lisa drum up the blog world to join them at their wonderful Festa. But these girls keep forgetting the food and always have an empty table ;-) So, they ask us to come over and help them fill their tables with wonderful delicacies.

And we do - because we all cannot resist a good party and we know both these girls really do know how to throw the most awesome parties.

The turn out last year was fantastic and we all had a great time. I had brought along a creamy Italian dessert. The panna cotta was topped with blackberries and I was thrilled to learn that it happens to be one of Ivonne's favorite desserts.

This year I decided to keep my dish Italian. Not only because of my passion for the Italian cuisine but also because I know Lisa too shares the same passion and Ivonne - well because I simply adore the incredible recipes and stories she shares from her nonna.

I love the beautiful and plush Tuscany region in Italy. Florence is my favorite city and ever since my dad took me on that first Italian trip I fell in love with it.

It was on a trip in June of the year I turned 30 and Soeren was due in a few months that I first tried this dish. It was Tom's birthday present to me and he was also fulfilling a wish I had had since I was 16, to celebrate my 30th in Florence.

After re-discovering Florence we were sipping on fruity chianti and lemonade (I was sipping on the lemonade while Tom was enjoying the chianti ;-)), in a quaint trattoria on the outskirts of the city, taking in the most gorgeous sunset one can imagine. As the skies blazed orange and red I mentally and emotionally clicked a snapshot of the moment. Burned in my memory and placed in the section of the brain where happy and fulfilling moments are stored. Never forgotten but always remembered and fondly reminisced upon.

Like I am today.

The Italians are a warm and generous folk and being 6 months pregnant I was always smiled upon whenever I walked into a store or a restaurant. People even put out their cigarettes when we took a table next to them in any of the eateries we visited. The older nonnas, usually sitting on benches enjoying watching their grandchildren playing, would nod their heads, almost in approval. All in all it was an exhilarating experience for me.

The family that owned the trattoria were incredible. The news that an Indian pregnant woman had taken seat in their restaurant must have spread like wildfire in the kitchen, because soon I was greeted by the several generations of women who obviously were responsible for cooking, while the men in the family served. The fact that many of them could not speak English and our Italian is below basic did not seem to matter - we chatted with hands and feet, giggled and laughed talked about food and wine and all things fine - until late in the night.

During the whole evening we were spoilt in terms of food. I cannot remember that we even ordered anything - the food just kept appearing on our table and we were told to try out every delicacy. What a feast! We had everything from antipasti, risotto, fish to sweets and dessert. I have never been so full in my life. It was in this lovely night that I also discovered the tangy and zesty agrodolce. Fresh vegetables like tomatoes were pickled in this sweet-sour fluid giving an extraordinary flavor.

At the end of the evening - or rather late night - we were touched by their hospitality and left speechless by the fact that we were not allowed to pay for all the food we ate. How does one thank such people?

After Soeren arrived I took a picture of the three of us and sent this to them with an open invitation to visit us. Everything else just did not seem appropriate enough to me. It's been 5 years now and we are in touch with each other via mail, postcards and pictures. Each time I get a postcard I am always reminded of that evening. Apparently the first picture I sent them, of us, is hanging in the kitchen of the trattoria and the story is re-told several times.

It seems appropriate to me to pay respect to this family by giving them their own place on my blog. By re-telling the story and sharing the recipe of my favorite item that evening - tomatoes in agrodolce - I'd like to show my readers how much this evening meant to us and hope that you too will be reminded of equally beautiful moments in your life that you will always cherish.

Agrodolce literally means soursweet and comes from the Sicilian agru e duci. An Italian sweet and sour sauce made from sugar, citrus juices, vinegar, and dried fruits.

Tutti a tavola


Reminder!

Don't forget to send me your favorite liquid creations for this month's Monthly Mingle. I am looking forward to parting with you and your cocktails, milkshakes, lassis, drinks on the rocks, hot or cold drinks. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.

Deadline: September 10th!



Ingredients

Tomatoes in Agrodolce (05) by MeetaK


1 kg mini Roma tomatoes - washed and dried
1 bunch fresh basil leaves - washed and dried
1/4l white balsamic vinegar
1/4l dark balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons mixed peppercorns - white, black and red
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 packet Dr. Oetker preserve help (optional)




Method

Tomatoes in Agrodolce (04) by MeetaK


In a saucepan pour the vinegar, 1/4l water and add the peppercorns, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil then, if using, add the preserve help.

Place the tomatoes in the boiling liquid for a minute. Using a slotted spoon remove them from the liquid.

In sterilized jars layer the tomatoes with the basil leaves and then pour the liquid until everything is covered. Allow to cool to room temperature and then screw on the lids.

This makes about 2 large 750 ml jars full and will keep for about a month. Store in the refrigerator. The tomatoes agrodolce can be enjoyed as antipasti with warm ciabatta or foccacia bread, but it also tasted fantastic with grilled meat and fish.


Verdict

Tomatoes in Agrodolce (02) by MeetaK


Almost everyone who visited us this summer for a barbecue had the true pleasure of experiencing the flavor of these tomatoes. We shared the story of that special evening in Tuscany, with all of our friends and savored new fond moments created for us to remember.

Isn't is just fascinating how friends and feasts harmonize perfectly with each other to give some of the best memories we'll ever have?



With this one last thought in my mind I'd like to thank Ivonne for the gorgeous parcel she sent me. Ivonne you got me this time - it was unexpected and a pleasant surprise. I share the exact same sentiments as you wrote in your beautiful card. I am so looking forward to cooking up a few of the oven specialties from the cookbook "al forno" by Maxine Clark. Here's to friends, friendship and feasts! Agli amici, all'amicizia ed alle festività!



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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Risotto With Creamy Red Pepper

| 19 comments
Red Pepper Risotto (02) by MeetaK

Risottos at our home are made on a regular basis. We really enjoy the diversity it offers as there are a multitude of ways one can serve this wonderful Italian staple.

Once the basic risotto recipe is mastered, let the imagination then run wild to come up with unique and interesting sides or additions for the risotto.


However, that has been the cause for vehement quarrels amongst famous cooks, star chefs and everyone else who likes to think they can cook. What is the right way to cook a risotto?

How liquidy should a risotto be?
Does one cook risotto in a closed or open pot?
Is the continous stirring necessary or not?

My tip to beginners and others, is go with your own flow. Do not let all these questions and studies drive you mad. If you are a stirrer then please watch over the risotto and stir frequently. I personally am not, I prefer checking on it regularly and stirring as desired.

Risotto is basically a creamy rice dish with it's origins in Italy. Apparently the story goes back to 1541, when the magnificent Gothic cathedral, the Duomo di Milano, was being built, and a young apprentice by the name of Valerius was in charge of staining the decorated glass for the windows. Everybody was teasing him because he added saffron to the pigments to obtain a more brilliant color.

He decided to return the joke and added saffron to the rice that was to be served at his master's wedding. The rice turned out so good and soon the idea was spread throughout the city and thus the risotto we know today was born.

There are hundreds of different types of risottos, each one varying from the flavoring ingredient used.

Four basic components make up all risottos:
  • The soffritto - is a combination of vegetables, butter, oil and finely chopped onions, which are sautéed in a heavy based pot or skillet where the rice will be cooked
  • The broth - depending on the type of recipe and flavoring used, could be anything from beef, vegetable, chicken or fish. This is the basis of your risotto, so it is a good idea to use a strong flavored broth - whether homemade or store-bought. I like using an organic vegetable broth we get here that is powdered and comes in a jar. Adding liquid to it gives you a fantastic strong tasting broth.
  • The flavoring ingredient - is what gives the risotto its final and distinguishing flavor. Normally this is added to the soffritto and can be anything from vegetables, tomato ragu, meat, fish, truffles and even fruit for a sweet risotto.
  • The rice - is the main ingredient so buying a good variety is vital. The specific risotto rice are rich in starch and can absorb a considerable amount of cooking liquid. The three main types of risotto rice are Aroborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli. My own favorites are Aroborio on a regular basis and for special treats I will use the Carnaroli, which comes from the Piedmont region and has a wonderful and special taste.
To finish off the risotto, butter and Parmigiano cheese is added to give it a full bodied aroma. The final consistency of the risotto should be thick and pasty, where the individual rice grains are are firm but stick together. By no means should the grains be soft - they still need to have a certain "bite" to them.

For my own risotto dish I have used the Aroborio type of rice, which is supposedly a favorite of most Italian housewives. It's perfect for all kinds of risottos and my tip for those making risotto the first time. This risotto rice allows you to cook it al dente without much hassle and fuss. The flavoring ingredient red bell peppers, giving it a wonderful characteristic and flavor.



Reminder!

Don't forget to send me your favorite liquid creations for this month's Monthly Mingle. I am looking forward to parting with you and your cocktails, milkshakes, lassis, drinks on the rocks, hot or cold drinks. Liquid Dreams is all about mixing up some of the most delicious drinks and bringing it to this months mingle.

Deadline: September 10th!


Ingredients


Red Pepper Risotto (01) by MeetaK


For the risotto
80g onions - finely chopped
50g butter -
400g Aroborio rice
150ml white wine
1 to 1.5 l - vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt

For the red pepper sauce
600g red bell pepper
50g shallots - finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Fresh cracked pepper
100ml white wine
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon bell pepper puree/paste - I used some Ajvar
40g Pecorino Sardo or Parmiagiano - grated
1 tablespoon mixed herbs - finely chopped



Method

For the risotto
In a heavy double-bottom skillet melt the butter and gently sauté the onions. Add the rice and allow to sauté until transparent. Stir to avoid the rice from sticking to the base of the skillet.

Pour in th white wine and allow the liquid to simmer - uncovered. Stir occasionally (or frequently if you are a "stirrer"). Once the wine has been soaked up add about half of the vegetable broth and allow to simmer on medium heat. Stirring as desired. When the liquid has evaporated add the rest of the broth to the risotto and once again allow to simmer.

It takes approximately 20 minutes until the rice reaches it's al dente consistency. If not, add some more liquid and continue to simmer and stir until the rice is cooked. Care must be taken not to over-cook it.

For the red pepper sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Bake the bell peppers on a tray until the skins build bubbles and have browned. Revove from the oven and place a tea-towel over the peppers to allow them to sweat. Then remove the peel from top to bottom. Remove the seeds and coarsely dice the red peppers.

In a pan heat up some oil and sauté the shallots until transparent. Add the peppers and continue sautéing for 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the wine, tomato and ajvar and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs.

Serve the risotto on pre-warmed plates with the red pepper sauce on top. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
(Scroll up for recipe)
A few things to remember when making your perfect risotto:
  • Do not wash the rice before cooking. Being an Indian, we normally wash our rice prior to cooking to remove access starch, which causes the rice to stick together. However, this is exactly what is desired in a risotto, so washing the rice will eliminate the starch that gives the risotto its texture.
  • Choose the right type of rice for your risotto. If you are unsure go for the Aroborio - you cannot go wrong with this type.
  • Use a large double-bottom skillet or pot when making risotto. This divides the heat equally throughout the pan cooking each grain to perfection.
  • Normally the rule of the thumb is 75-100g of rice per serving.
  • The butter and oil are to be warmed gently without browning them.
  • The onions are also supposed to be sautéed gently until translucent - normally just about 2 minutes.
  • The rice should not be cooked too long. If they are cooked too long in the oil/butter they could harden, which makes them unable to absorb the liquid as required.
  • When the liquid/broth has been added, keep the heat to medium-low until the rice is fully cooked. Stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom on the pot and add more liquid whenever the rice has absorbed the liquid.
  • Risotto is never too mushy nor is it too hard - it has to be just al dente, so make sure you test for its readiness when its close to to fully cooked.
  • Always serve the risotto on pre-warmed plates. This keeps the starches warm and pasty without solidifying the entire dish.


More on rice here.



Verdict

A brilliant and easy way of having a comforting dinner. Risottos are so satisfying and I simply melt into its flavors. They are healthy, nutritious and perfect with a glass of chilled white wine.

Also try out my Risotto ai Funghi e Prezzemolo

This is my entry for this month's session of Jhiva for Ingredients being hosted by Sharmi with the ingredient Rice

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