Au Naturel: Red Currents

| 27 comments
Red Currents Black Bowl (06) by MeetaK

 

I was planning on selecting another photo. I really like Crimson Beetroot and fits perfectly into this month's theme. I am talking about the monthly photography event CLICK. Jai & Bee are calling the theme this month Au Naturel, I call the series of these photos RAW.

My calendar this year displays a selection of photos I took throughout 2007 in their purest form - RAW ... or Au Naturel.

I decided to go against Crimson Beetroot. As April progressed I started getting several mails from many of you who have my calendar hanging on your walls. Not only was I touched by your compliments but the mails helped me make another decision.

I have the same calendar here at home and a few of my closest friends and family have also received it as presents, so April's photo was popping down at me in all its glory everywhere I went.

You guessed it! April's photo is "red currents in a black bowl" you see above. I like the bright red and the way the berries pop right out of the shot. All in all the shot is perfect for this months theme.

Details
  • Camera: Nikon D70s
  • Lens: Nikkor 18-70mm
  • Tripod: Bilora 1211
  • Focal Length: 70 mm
  • Exposure Time: 1/40s
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • Lighting: Natural from right using a bounce on the left.

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Fun Food: Cheesecake Pops

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Daring Bakers Challenge April 2008

Cheesecake Pops (03) by MeetaK

It's been a bit quiet around here, I know! Thanks to everyone who have mailed me, concerned if all is well or not. Yes, all is well here. I've just been enjoying the great weather we're having here. Spending my afternoons with Soeren, going for bike rides or gardening. The evenings were spent with neighbors and friends outside on the terrace, sipping wine and counting stars. I just took a spontaneous break from blogging.

However, today I had to come on over and celebrate my 1st birthday with everyone!

Yeah - one whole year of being a Daring Baker! I joined this amazing group last April, when the group was still small and I was able to comment on everyone's posts. My first challenge was a looker too - the amazing Chocolate Crepe Cake. After that there was no looking back. The group's popularity grew and so did the number of members. I have to be honest, I have lost count but I am guessing we are breaking the 1000 mark! I really want to thank Ivonne, who lovingly persuaded me to join the group, and Lisa whose energy motivates me to extreme extents.  These two lovely girls are the founders of the Daring Bakers group. A huge thank you also goes out to many of the members who spend so much time helping those of us who have 1001 questions each month regarding the challenges. I am thinking about people like Helene and Pea, just to name two of the many. Without your help I am sure many of us would fail miserably.

When I read this month's challenge I really had to smile. It could not have been more fitting to celebrate my 1st Daring Bakers birthday. Cheesecake Pops chosen by our gorgeous hostesses this month, Deborah of Taste and Tell and Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasm from a book that sounds like a real lot of fun: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor.

However, when I got all the ingredients together I was thinking "Whoa! That is a lot of cream cheese!" There is also no butter in the recipe and a closer look at the method showed that it was very different to the cheesecake I make. The recipe called for the cheesecake to be baked in a water bath which really intrigued me as I have never baked cheesecake in this fashion before. I was expecting a lovely light and fluffy cheesecake. Once out of the oven we were supposed to cool for a few hours and then scoop balls out of it. I left my cheesecake forms in the fridge overnight and was a little disappointed the next day when it was not very firm as it should have been. So, what to do? I formed the balls as best as I could and froze them. The rest was pretty straightforward. Melting chocolate and coating with nuts. I wanted to do something a bit more with the chocolate coating so I added an aromatic sprinkling of cinnamon to the melted milk chocolate. Pistachios and hazelnut brittle were used to coat these. I also made a second batch with white chocolate, which I then divided in half, adding a few drops of natural red food coloring and raspberry flavoring to one half. As I did not have lollipop sticks I used a few nice looking shashlik sticks, the ones coated with white chocolate were left without and served like pralines.

I think these would certainly make great party treats at kids birthday parties, although they are quite heavy. Making the balls small and bite-sized it the best way to go here. The fact that I have to keep them in the freezer is not so bad. Whenever we want a little treat I take them out about 30 minutes prior to eating.


Cheesecake Pops
(adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor)

Printable version of recipe here.

Cheesecake Pops (01) by MeetaK 

 

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

Cheesecake

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs 
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, seeded
¼ cup heavy cream

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

Cheesecake Pops (04) by MeetaK

Cheesecake Pops

Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, chopped or in chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours.

When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.).

Place the pop on a clean parchment paperlined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.


Verdict

Cheesecake Pops (02) by MeetaK

They were good. But I think there can be a lot more done with this recipe. The kids loved it, which is not surprising. Although Tom and I found this a great and different type of dessert, I thought they were too sweet and bit heavy.

Would I make this again?
I like the idea behind this recipe. However, I think the next time I make this I might use my own cheesecake recipe. I expected this to be fluffy as it was baked in a water bath, but it was more on the soggier side. Maybe I should have cooked it longer, who knows. I do think I will make this again adding a bit more flavor to the cheesecake and playing around with it. A great idea for Soeren's birthday this summer.

What did I learn from this challenge?
Fun! That was the main part with this challenge. Making cheesecake in a water bath was quite interesting and although it did not work out 100% well I still like the basic idea.

Twelve wonderful challenges to boast about - boy do I feel good!

The previous challenges
April 2007: Chocolate Crepe Cake
May 2007: Gâteau Saint-Honoré
June 2007: Real Honest Jewish Purists Bagels
July 2007: Strawberry Mirror Cake
August 2007: Chocolate Caramel Tart
September 2007: Sticky Cinnamon Buns
October 2007: Bostini Cream Pie
November 2007: Tender Potato Focaccia and Bread Rolls
December 2007: Bûche de Noël/Yule Log
January 2008: Lemon Meringue Pie
February 2008: French Baguette
March 2008: The Perfect Party Cake

Thanks to Deborah and Elle for being such fantastic hostesses. Now I am off to check out a few of the other colorful and bright cheesecake pops. Care to join me? Check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll for more.



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Asian Style Tilapia

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Asian Style Tilapia (01) by MeetaK

The fact that I have started working full time out of home does not mean we have to make do with bread and water for dinner. Surprisingly the new routine is very relaxed and I am finding myself more balanced than I was before. It's probably also the fact that I have a few fantastic colleagues, whose gentle, easy going and soft spoken ways keeps me relaxed throughout the day and even demanding tasks are completed with ease. Previously I always had a awful feeling that I was working against time, which seemed to be ticking faster. Right now it's like time is my best friend and I have organized myself well enough to get a lot more done.

This also means that I am relaxed enough to make nice warm dinners on weeknights.

Believe me that was something that really had me brooding for days. I cannot imagine not being able to cook as often as I used to. It's my creative oasis. Putting on some light music, popping open a bottle of Prosecco and getting into my apron eases out the kinks the day might have left behind. Mixing, stirring, chopping and sizzling energizes me.

Nonetheless the dishes have to be quick and easy. Fish is perfect for this purpose and the Asian cooking method not only guarantees rapid meals but also one that is full of flavor.

Tilapia is currently the trendy fish in my kitchen. I know there are many arguments about this fish. The gourmands amongst you will turn up your noses and the practical ones will see why I really like this type of fish. It's easy to work with, it's not fishy and it's mild in taste, making it very versatile when combining with different ingredients or spices. It's wonderful when you want to use a flavorful sauce or seasoning that the fish does not compete with you.

For this particular dish I used simple, fresh ingredients and flavored it with typical Asian aromas. Spectacular!


MM Bollywood Cooking April 2008 - 500px

The Monthly Mingle is out on the red carpet this month. I am taking you into the colorful world of Bollywood. This time one glamorous superstar dish will walk away with a copy of the fantastic Bollywood Cookbook

You'll find all the details here.

Deadline: 5 May 2008


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Asian Style Tilapia (03) by MeetaK

600g tilapia filets, cut into larger cubes
1 bunch spring onions, cut in approx. 3 cm long pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
50g cashew nuts, roasted and ground
1-2 red chilies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
50 ml peanut oil


Method

Asian Style Tilapia (04) by MeetaK

In a small bowl mix together the soy sauce and sugar until it dissolves. Set aside.

Pour the peanut oil in a wok and allow it to get very hot. Add the fish cubes and quickly fry it from all sides. Using a slotted spoon, take the fish out and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak in excess oil.

Pour out almost all of the oil from the wok, leaving just enough to sauté the vegetables. Throw in the spring onions and bell peppers, sauté on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the chilies and garlic and pour in the soy sauce-sugar mixture. Simmer for a further 1 minute.

Finally put the fish back into the wok and coat with sauce. Add the cashew nuts and serve immediately.  

Serve with Chinese style vegetarian noodles.


Verdict

Asian Style Tilapia (05) by MeetaK

I love these kind of dishes. The ingredients are not complex but fresh, the flavors are not heavy, but light and intense. The tilapia adapts perfectly to the aromas of the bell peppers and onions. It's the type of dish that has us licking the last drop off the plate



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Sweet & Spicy: Chocolate Chile Pots De Crème

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Choc Chile Pots Creme (01) by MeetaK

I remember the first time I tasted the chocolate-chili combination. It was an explosive blend of flavors to say the least. My favorite chocolate manufacturer's were presenting their new chocolate line and I was lucky enough to get tickets to the show. This was a few years back. I instantly fell in love with their chocolate-chile-almond chocolate bar. Rich 70% bittersweet chocolate with spicy cayenne pepper all wrapped around whole almonds. I had no trouble eating the whole 200g bar by myself.

I am sure you know how that works. You open a new bar, slowly. First ripping the chic outer wrapper, revealing the elegant golden foil. Then you break off just a small corner - crack! You go to the sofa and savor the flavor melting in your mouth. A few minutes later you are back in the chocolate cabinet nibbling on another piece of that heavenly chocolate. And before you know it you've literally pigged out on the whole bar in one evening!

Guilty? Not me. You?

Surprisingly, it never actually occurred to me to experiment with the explosive combination in my own kitchen! DUH! However, I am the type of person who makes up for missed time by spending hours pondering and researching. I get so obsessed that I even start dreaming about it.

For those of you who have not tried the chocolate and chili blend, let me tell you it is not a new trend. Think of the Mexican Mole Poblano, created by nuns in the 17th century. The smooth, dark, richness of the chocolate, spiced with a hint of fiery chili is something so wonderfully satisfying.

So, when I was left with several egg yolks from the last Daring Bakers challenge, I knew instantly what I was going to be doing with them. I did not have to look far. I found the perfect recipe for creamy, chocolaty desserts in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Dorie can do no wrong and so my decision fell on her exquisite Chocolate Pots de Crème.

Pots de crème are not to be compared to chocolate pudding. Because while the pudding is stirred on the stovetop to thicken the cornstarch, pots de crème are cooked in a water bath in the oven and get their creamy texture from the eggs and slow baking. Pots de crème are richer and, in my opinion, more comforting.

I used Dorie's recipe as a basis and adapted it to incorporate the chili flavors of the New Mexico chiles and Kashmiri chili powder. The result is a smooth, chocolaty cream with some real fire. Adding tart and fruity raspberries as a side completes the dessert by taking it to a whole new level.


MM Bollywood Cooking April 2008 - 500px


The Monthly Mingle is out on the red carpet this month. I am taking you into the colorful world of Bollywood. This time one glamorous superstar dish will walk away with a copy of the fantastic Bollywood Cookbook

You'll find all the details here.

Deadline: 5 May 2008


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Choc Chile Pots Creme (05) by MeetaK

4 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, rinsed
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
Pinch of salt

Optional:
Handful of fresh raspberries
Handful of grated coconut


Method

Choc Chile Pots Creme (02) by MeetaK

Preparation: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a roasting pan large enough to fit all the forms in, with a double thickness of paper towels. Put eight custard or ramekin forms into the pan. Fill the teakettle with water and bring to boil then turn off the heat.

Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of cream to a boil, then add the New Mexico chiles. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to steep for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, then return to the saucepan and gently bring to a boil. When the cream is just at a boil pour over the chocolate and wait for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, very gently stir the cream and chocolate. Start stirring at the center, widening the concentric circles until the ganache is smooth. Set aside.

Mix the remaining cream and milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg, egg yolks, Kashmiri chili powder, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Keep whisking until the mixture turns pale and thickens. Still whisking drizzle in spoonfuls of the hot liquid to temper the eggs. This will warm the eggs gently so that they do not curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid.

Finally, slowly whisk the egg mixture into the ganache, stirring gently to incorporate.

Skim the foam off the top of the custard with a spoon, then pour the custard into the prepared cups or forms.

Pour enough hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the top of the pan snugly with aluminum foil, poke two holes in opposite corners and carefully slide the pan into the pan.

Bake the custards for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops darken and the custards jiggle a little in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place on the cooling rack. Allow the custards to rest in their warm bath for 10 minutes, then peel off the foil. Transfer the individual forms from the water to the cooling rack. Once they reach room temperature, refrigerate until cooled through, preferably overnight.

Sprinkle the tops of the custards with some grated coconut and decorate with fresh raspberries.


Verdict

Choc Chile Pots Creme (06) by MeetaK

While the New Mexico chiles add an earthy fiery flavoring, the Kashmiri chili powder lends it mild and fruity aromas to the dessert. It's just a hint one tastes of the chili. First the smooth, rich chocolate creaminess blew us away, then we tasted the slight pungency of the chili. What an incredible experience! The raspberries complemented the flavors perfectly, rounding the dessert with their tart and fruity goodness.

Sugar High Friday is being hosted over at La Petit Boulangette with the theme Asian Sweet Invasion. I'd like to heat up the sweet event with this invasion.

You might enjoy these chocolate desserts to:

Chocolate and Caramel Tart
Chocolate Chip Crumble
Chocolate Mountains
Mousse au Chocolat

My latest article on FoodieView focuses on Springtime Fruit Ideas. Check it out for a few great fruity creations!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Monthly Mingle 20: Bollywood Cooking

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MM Bollywood Cooking April 2008

It was bound to come. A mingle dedicated exclusively to Indian cuisine. There is such a huge variety of food in India that one could eat a totally different type of dish every day of the year. For those who read my blog regularly will know that my monthly series Bollywood Cooking presents typical Indian food, with the idea to show my non-Indian readers and lovers of Indian cuisine just how easy it is to enjoy good home cooked Indian food from your own kitchen. To intrigue my Indian readers, I like to add a little twist.

I did not realize when I started the series last year that it would become so popular. I love the mails and comments I get regarding a specific featured recipe and I enjoy answering all your questions.

For this 20th edition of the Monthly Mingle I decided I need to celebrate Indian cuisine. I need to get all my non-Indian readers to come out and create their favorite Indian dish. For my Indian readers I want you to join in on cooking with a twist.

What's the twist you ask?

51qIgf9Sp2L._AA240_[9] My current featured Bollywood Cooking star spicy okra with onions, introduced you to a lovely cookbook the Bollywood Cookbook by the stunning Bulbul Mankani. A couple of months back I contacted Bulbul and asked her to join me at my mingle. She agreed and we have a great little surprise for you. Bulbul and I will select one worthy Bollywood star dish from the entries we receive. The lucky winner will then get their own personalized, autographed copy of the Bollywood Cookbook sent directly to them from Bulbul!

As you can expect it's not going to be easy. We have high expectations and know you all will come through, but there can only be one Superstar. So make it a special dish!

What we are looking for is a glamorous and elegant dish fit for the red carpet. We love the everyday comfort cooking no doubt about that, but here we want you to dress your dish up in glitter and gloss. Show us your favorite Indian dish fit for a Bollywood (or even a Hollywood) star and share your experience with Indian food with us. The hottest performance and creation will be waking away with the coveted prize of this spectacular cookbook.

I'd also like to take this opportunity and introduce Bulbul Mankani to you all. Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for Bulbul:

I have straddled careers in media (advertising/television and films) and taught at a film school but at heart am a vagabond, dreamer and spiritually alive and curious. But here is my food story- come from a gluttonous family where we drowned our good and bad times in good to excellent food. In my family everybody cooked- the men were particularly good at weekend feasts of meats....
My mom's family is from old Delhi - its a cauldron of delightful foods- street food of such high standards I have never tasted anywhere again.  I went on to join a food institute where for three years we wore chef hats all day... then for many years I lost touch with food as media took precedence...then I met another foodie and we began to make food television and explore Mumbai's food secrets and throwing wild food parties... that was in 1994 and since then I remain a seeker of fine dining. I cook a lot now and seek organic foods (still very hard to source in India) and battle with over weight constantly...

You just have to love a person like that don't you?

Here’s how it works:

  1. Create a dish that fits the theme of “Bollywood Cooking” as described above
  2. Post about it on your blog anytime from now until 5 May (entries must be in English, please).
  3. Link to this post send the details to me (see below).

Once you’ve posted your dish, send an email with “Bollywood Cooking” in the subject line to: meetasmingle (at) gmail (dot) com by 5 May with the following information:

  • your name
  • your location
  • the name of your blog and its url
  • the name of your dish and a link to the relevant post
  • a copy of the main photo of your dish 200px wide

Note: A few of you know that I am quite lenient with the deadline and have accepted entries that have dawdled in a day or so late. However, this time I have to be rather strict as we need to have enough time to look through all the entries. So this time folks I have to remind you make sure you send your entries punctually!

To keep a track of the Monthly Mingle each month please refer to the Monthly Mingle Guest Host Calendar. If you are interested in hosting the Monthly Mingle at your place, send your emails to blogmeeta@gmail.com.

Now go create a star. Good luck!


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Home: A Splash of Color

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Tulip Splash Of Color (02) by MeetaK

One thing I was looking forward to, when I was in Dubai, was coming back to fresh, lush spring colors. I was really expecting Spring to be in full swing here, waiting for my return from the barren browns and concrete grays of Dubai.

Unfortunately Soeren and I were greeted with cold winds and icy sleet. The weather has been in this tragic state the whole week. Gray and wet! I was so hoping to wear my new outfits I got from Dubai - I gave the phrase power shopping an whole new meaning. LOL!

The great thing is that my new office is a stone's throw away from the Farmer's Market. Heaven for me, because during my lunch breaks I can stroll down there and get my color kick. Mother nature might be stinging with Spring but my fave Farmers were not. Bright colors as far as the eyes could see.

So, I brightened up the office and my home with huge bunches of colorful tulips. Here in the picture I arranged 5 bunches of tulips in all my favorite colors. Each bouquet had five tulips making a huge colorful bunch of twenty five flowers. My pristine glass vase was perfect for it.

Tulip Splash Of Color (01) by MeetaK

 

I splashed out on color for my Centerpiece of the Month, hoping that I'll be seeing these colors outdoors soon too. The lovely Sandi hosts this event every month and I wanted to send her a huge splash of color. If you too are feeling gray right now I hope this cheered you up a touch.

For more inspiration browse through my Home & Design category.

Important Note: 

TOI is currently not displaying my feeds. I've had several mails regarding this and I thank you all for informing me. Sailu is working on the issue. In the meantime I would like to recommend subscribing to What's For Lunch, Honey? directly. Simply click on the RSS feed image and subscribe in your favorite reader. The "subscribe here" section on the sidebar also enables you to subscribe to the feeds via email. So make sure you do not miss a post.


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Livestrong: Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimps

| 34 comments
Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimps (01) by MeetaK

If all goes well you'll be reading this when I'll be at work and this post has published itself. See I am trying out the new feature scheduled posts from Blogger in draft.

Yes, my new job - I had my first day yesterday and it was pretty good. What I love the most is that I have real live colleagues with whom I can discuss issues, chat with and brainstorm in person. I really missed that working from home. The new job promises to be exciting and offers a nice diversity in tasks, which I personally like in a job. The best thing is that I was able to buy myself a new wardrobe and get to wear chic clothes instead of the comfy jeans and sweatshirt I used to wear when I was working from home. LOL!

Last year when I entered my sauce hollandaise for Barbara's wonderful event LiveSTRONG, I had mentioned in my post that I knew no one who was effected with cancer. That changed shortly after. My neighbor, a dear and wonderful lady, told me that she is a cancer survivor. She said she had beaten it, it took away one of her breasts, but she overcame it.

I wish the story ended there, like an happily ever after, but it goes on. A little while later she was informed that things were not looking good in her blood tests. Apparently after five years of it being dormant, the cancer came back, more aggressively than before. Somehow it had managed to find a way to her bones and eaten away on them. How this was not detected earlier still leaves me flabbergasted. 

In the process of all this, she lost her job, her husband of over 13 years told her he was leaving her for someone else and finally when she decided to leave Weimar to go back to her hometown, where her parents were, her kids decided to stay on here with the father. It often seems when one is knee high in shit, one only finds a toothpick to dig themselves out of it. I felt so helpless - all I was able to do was be there to talk to her and try to raise her spirits.

Today, she is fighting the cancer with chemotherapy, she has been told that she will eventually die from it but the chemo will help her to prolong her life. She is a tough cookie. She has found love in the form of a new partner and when she came to visit me a little while back, I have to say she looked great. She still has that positive spirit and even after all that has happened to her in the short span of one year, she is looking into the future. No matter what she is determined to make it the best part of her life.

Go MP - you show em! This one's for you.


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimps (04) by MeetaK

500g Hokkaido pumpkin, cut into small cubes
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g Aroborio rice
1/8 l dry white wine
1 1/8 l vegetable stock
Fresh rosemary, chopped
200g shrimps, peeled
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice


Method

Pumpkin Risotto with Shrimps (02) by MeetaK

In a small pan, dry roast the coriander seeds until they are fragrant. Using a mortar and pestle grind into a powder. 

In a heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and oil each. Add the onions, garlic, coriander powder, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin. Sauté for a few minutes, then stir in the rice. Sauté for another few minutes, until the rice turns transparent.

Pour in the wine and allow to soak into the rice. One the liquid has evaporated start adding the stock in ladles, each time waiting till the liquid has been soaked in. Stir frequently during this process to "massage" the starch out of the rice. The rice should be ready in about 15-20 minutes. It should be soft but still have a good bite to it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a non-stick pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Sauté the shrimps till they turn to their bright orange color and sprinkle with rosemary. Drizzle with lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.

Incorporate the remaining butter into the risotto. Serve in pre-warmed deep dishes with the shrimps.

Helpful risotto reads:
About risotto
Basic risotto


Verdict:

Many of you know my affinity towards risotto. I love the creamy texture and the full bodied taste a risotto offers. This one is particularly special because it makes use of one common ingredient and one sophisticated ingredient - the pumpkin and shrimps - making this risotto a pure indulgence. It offers wonderful flavors of the sweet pumpkin and the firm shrimp infused with the delicate hint of coriander. The added plus are the crunchy pumpkin seeds.

This is for my support towards LiveSTRONG A Taste of Yellow.

Other risotto creations you might enjoy:

Risotto with creamy mushrooms
Risotto with creamy red bell pepper
Risotto with rucola and bresaola



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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Seduction: Strawberries, Cream and Cake

| 27 comments
Strawberry Trifle (01) by MeetaK

It's my last day here in Dubai. We'll be flying back to Germany tomorrow afternoon. As always it's with a bunch of mixed feelings. I am happy to be going back - to Tom, to my home, my life and at this time of year to experience the wonderful season of Spring. On the other hand I will be leaving behind my parents and brother and the fun, laughs and the carefree life I enjoy here.

I take leave of two things when I am in Dubai - my watch and my wallet. Time is not as much of an importance as it is back home. Soeren and I have have a rough routine here but we glide through it not worrying too much about the time. My wallet remains in the closet for most of my trip. As my brother's T-Shirt boldly states "My dad is an ATC!", it is, more often than not, the truth. I had to laugh when my brother put on the T-shirt, the funny thing was I kind of saw pride in my father's face. Funny huh? But that's what my parents are like - my mother and father take on most of the responsibilities with Soeren, preparing his breakfast, playing with him, bathing him. Leaving me with free time to relax - I managed to read two books in this time and of course had time to blog too.

What I do miss very much though is my kitchen and being able to cook. My parents have a cook, who is fantastic and prepares some really great tasting dishes. But for me cooking is a way of relaxing and letting any steam out and I do not feel whole when I have not cooked or baked for a while. I did get a chance to make my family the lovely Bulgur with Vegetables and Feta though and a lighter version of the Perfect Party Cake. I was also in the pastry kitchen at the hotel where my dad works, where I spent the morning with the pastry chef learning how to make a few exquisite desserts. I do plan to share them with you soon.

Today though I thought I'd show you what I did with some of the leftover cake I had from the Perfect Party Cake. I had quite a bit as I made mini-cakes and as the cake tasted so good there was no way I was going to throw any of it away. I hate throwing stuff away and this makes me a bit more creative, as I have to think up of recipes to make with them.

I decided to do a light interpretation on the trifle, where cake, fruit and custard are layered to give a fantastic dessert. Although strawberries are not 100% in season in Germany right now - I did find some lovely organic strawberries at my organic store. Back home, I macerated the strawberries in a bit of limoncello and soaked the cake in lemon syrup. The cream is a mixture of low-fat cream cheese and heavy whipping cream, giving a lighter more airy texture. The result was an exceptional dessert with lemony flavored cake and a slight sweetness from the fruit and limoncello, topped off creamy, smooth cream. Of course you can use any lemon flavored pound cake for this recipe. Whatever you use - I am sure you will enjoy each spoonful of this dessert.


Reminder!

The Monthly Mingle gets fruity this month! My guest host Abby has chosen a spectacular theme for this month - Spring Fruit Sensations. So get out your colorful fruit creations and send them over to Abby.

Deadline: April 7th, 2008

Note: If you are interested in hosting the Monthly Mingle please drop me an email at blogmeeta@gmail.com. Check the Monthly Mingle Guest Host Calendar for more details. 


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here.

Strawberry Trifle (02) by MeetaK

50g sugar + 2 tablespoons
60 ml fresh lemon juice, preferably from organic lemons
60 ml limoncello
350g cake or pound cake, cut into slices. I simply broke the leftover cake into pieces.
225g cream cheese, low-fat
240g heavy cream
700g strawberries - sliced
Handful of pistachios - chopped


Method

Strawberry Trifle (03) by MeetaK

Place the strawberries in a bowl and pour the limoncello over them. Allow to infuse for a few minutes.

In the meantime make the lemon syrup by placing the 50g sugar, lemon juice and 50g water in a saucepan and bringing the mixture to a bowl on medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

Using an electric mixture, beat the cream cheese with the remaining sugar on high speed until light. Reduce the speed to medium and gradually add the heavy cream in a steady stream. Continue to beat the mixture until the mixture is light and airy. The mixture should look like very soft whipped cream.

Brush the cake pieces with the lemon syrup and divide among small serving bowls or arrange in one bowl. Spoon some of the cream over the cake, then add the strawberries, spoon some more of the cream and finally top off with more strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or even overnight so that the flavors infuse with each other.

Just before serving add a dollop of cream and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.


Verdict

Strawberry Trifle (04) by MeetaK

I like to call these type of desserts "dive-in" desserts, because they make you want to dive straight in and eat your way out. It's a fantastic way to use up and leftovers you have lying around, but it is well worth the trouble to go out and buy the ingredients. You will be rewarded with creamy strawberries in soft gooey cake. Aromatic with the limoncello and crunchy with the pistachios. This is real seduction!

Mike over at Mike's Table, who lives in wonderful Florida decided to have us all join in on his Strawberry Seduction. I am looking forward to the roundup as I am sure there will be tons of great recipes, just in time for the strawberry season in Germany. This is my entry.

You might also enjoy these strawberry seductions:

DSC_0014.2 Strawberry Kisses
StrawberryYoghurtIceCream01 Strawberry Yogurt Ice-cream
MirrioCake05 Strawberry Mirror Cake

 

Photography Awards

I am also rather chuffed and pretty ecstatic right now, for two reasons.

Dmblgit mar orange

 
The stunning Sabra from one of my favorite blogs Cookbook Catchall just informed me that I was awarded the host's award for my submission in March - Tropical Fruit Salad (02). Thank you! Please visit Sabra's blog to check out all the other DMBLGiT winners for March.

 

ifp-150px-april-08Each month, Margot of Coffee and Vanilla nominates 3 budding photographers from across the blog-e-sphere, then readers are supposed to vote for their favorite. This March I was nominated along with the superb Graeme from Blood Sugar and the lovely Gattina from Kitchen Unplugged. It certainly was tough competition. In the end I was able to bring this lovely badge home. However, this would not have been possible without my loyal readers and friends out there. I thank every single one of you who took a minute to vote for me. Thank you!

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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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