Friday, December 30, 2011

Lemon Chicken Risotto













I am very enthused these days; maybe it’s the festive xmasý spirit or that I can see some changes on the blog or maybe it is just the end of the year. A year that has more or less been good; good is an understatement, I should say fabulous. Yes, there have been changes- big changes- and hiccups, but overall, it has been quite nice. Touche’…  Since I have been feeling satisfied with myself, I have also decided not to work much anymore till the 1st now. That’s my treat to myself; of course I have to go to work for one more day this week, but that will be my last working day for the year! Instead, I had decided to focus on my energies on making one complex dish for Ak, before I signed off the blog for the year. Since Ak was the one who initiated this whole blog, and set it up to make me actually do it, I thought I had to do something fancy, and unexpected. Hence- the risotto. Now, SC, SG and PM are aware of the tomato and basil risotto (and i think i have very good reviews from them :p and i owe them one again!), that I think I have managed to cook reasonably, quite a few times, but I hadn’t really tried a complex recipe. I remembered Ak ‘looooving’ the Lemon Chicken Risotto, sometime when we were out for Dinner, and thought maybe this could be ‘the unpredicted one’. 
                Risottos are considered to be complicated; because it’s very easy to overcook or under cook. Also, the time taken to cook it, is considerably more than an average meal, since it included just standing and watching, refilling with stock and then waiting again for it to cook a little more. I have always been very skeptical of cooking a risotto, because no matter how many times you have made one before, one could still easily go wrong. To prevent that from happening, I thought I should use a tried and tested recipe, since I was also going to add chicken. My first halt was a cookbook on Italian cooking- Nothing; and then began my search online. I found a lemon risotto, a prawn risotto, a chicken risotto, an asparagus risooto, but NOT a lemon chicken Risotto. I searched keenly, but to no avail, since most recipes I found did either not have wine or no lemon or no chicken. I now had newfound regard for the Lemon Chicken Risotto; it seemed like a rare, unusual recipe. I returned to one of my favourite cooks, Nigella, and used the recipe for a Lemon risotto as a base which I planned to tweak (the original can be found here). Even though I reduced the quantities a bit, this recipe is definitely for 3 and not for 2!
                 The Risotto was a winner. Ak was ‘impressed’, so much so, that he brought out some wine in order to commemorate. In this wonderfully cold weather, this surely was more than just comfort food.

p.s. A tip: The recipe does take about 45 minutes to cook. I would suggest, keep a snack handy, for one would surely feel hungry while standing there, watching it cook. We had some magnificent Cranberry Goats Cheese, which was sent by SIL- Totally festive, and delectable. Thanks for the Xmas Goodies!
p.p.s I am not much of an egg person, especially when the yolk is used uncooked. Therefore, I skipped the Egg from the recipe. Feel free to use it though. Also, I skipped the celery, since I had run out of it!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Apple Pie Parcels- More Puff Pastry!


Garfield: I love the smell of Cinnamon Apple in the morning. It smells like victory. 
The world may think I am crazy, but nothing satisfies my heart more than a nice, fancy, slightly elaborate dessert; a combination of warm and cold/ of sweet and savoury. My last post may have been an overdose of puff pastry- all the excess that I tried to make use of. But I didn’t stop there!
On this cold and wintery night, while I was at it, celebrating with puff pastry, how could I not make some dessert? Apart from the few Chocolat Twisties, I definitely wanted to try something else. Since, I was also on the using up the excess mode, I decided to use an apple that was screaming at me from the fridge. The Christmas spirit was in the air, and I thought why not make something with some spices. I love the IPad Baking App- someday I hope to try out the all the recipes. For anyone with an ipad, you must download this app here
I had seen the chocolate filo parcels here, which looked very tempting. As always, since I didn’t have the filo pastry, I decided to make Apple Pie parcels- with Puff pastry instead. Since I was in a mood to celebrate, I even decided to make a dip as an accompaniment- a cinnamon dip to celebrate the victory. The end product was magnificent, if I may say so myself. Ak loved it, and so much so, we decided to call over the other AK (the brother), to have a taste of this wonderful discovery. AK has always never liked the apple pie that I have baked- primarily because of the crust. But this time, He approved it too! So much so, that he wanted to take a doggy bag home for breakfast (alongwith some puff pastry wraps).
Overall, an extremely gratifying meal to celebrate the victory!
p.s. Feel Free to use the leftover dip as an accompaniment to other desserts, I would recommend a brownie or if you are feeling lazy like me the next day, when the parcels have run out- just pour over some chocos/cereal...to have a healthy breakfast/dessert.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Puff Pastry Wraps- Celebrating Milestones


Communicooking has achieved a milestone. I got featured on Foodista.com as their Featured Blog of the Day on 20th December. To be honest, I was quite elated! The Yaaaaaay was silent in my heart, because I really could not believe it! For many in the blogging world, this may not be such a big deal, but I am sure, a lot of the bloggers would identify with this moment that they too would have experienced at some point of time! Nevertheless, I was extremely excited, inspired and motivated, Thanks to Foodista!

And there was no better way to celebrate, except to do another post. In the current situation, where there are only 2 people eating, I am constantly worried with regards to excess food around the house- especially perishables like vegetables. In my weekend visits to my wonderland as Ak calls it (well, it’s the local grocery store- and I am like a little child, in a toy shop), Ak had suggested we pick Puff Pastry. I assume he was hoping for the Chocolat Twisties, but this week, being super chaotic at work- had not led to much of anything new worth writing about. I walked into my kitchen, and opened the fridge, and I could see so much stuff- and the puff pastry was going to expire soon! Usually, the basic fresh puff pastry pack is used in 2 batches, but since it was almost close to expiry date- I decided to have a puff pastry day!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hummus and Taboulleh Salad

For vegetarians, Mediterranean food is truly a delight. In my travels across the world, especially around UK and Europe, Good vegetarian food is hard to find, especially if one doesn’t want potatoes. Although I am not a vegetarian, I don’t particularly enjoy seafood and on the contrary, am an extremely happy vegetarian. Very rarely do I complain about being served vegetarian food and quite often, I end up ordering a vegetarian dish for myself. It was during my stay in the UK that I discovered my obsession and love for ‘the mezze food world’ and oh! What a wonderful world it is! A lot of meals outside would end up in Edgware road (the famous place for all mezze food), and even when eating at home, the many varieties of hummus and tahini would always be found in the fridge. Time being a constraint then, cooking from scratch would be difficult. But since the time I have been back, Hummus at home is an easy go. Quite often, if I am eating out, and if there is a mezze platter on the starter menu, I usually cannot resist ordering it.

It had been playing on my mind for a while to try hummus @261, knowing that it would be a wonderful meal or an accompaniment, but since Ak is not a Chickpeas person, I was skeptical. However, since it was the 2 of us for dinner for a couple of months, I decided to go ahead and experiment with Ak’s taste buds. And I was willing to bribe him a bit with a tempting supplement. The menu for the night was Lebanese bread, Hummus, Taboulleh salad and Kebabs as the bribe for Ak. This meant that even if he didn’t like anything, he would at least enjoy the kebabs for the meal. Initially I had planned to make minced meat kebabs at home, but with work at its peak, I decided to go with some readymade shammi-kebabs from the local butcher; they are as fresh as ever and Ak actually loved them, along with the salad.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate and Pistachio Brownies

















The Festivities in India bring along with it everything ‘in excess’. Presumably, in North India, this extends above and beyond just material exchanges. Considering this was my first year of being married, there were also many firsts; first holi, Diwali, first karvachauth and so on and so forth. Apart from the gifts that are exchanged, there is a lot of fruit and dry fruit that is presented as well for its auspicious nature. This resulted in excess of fruits and dryfruit in our home, with only 3 people to consume it. There was the usual – have 5 almonds soaked in water overnight, but we really struggled with the consumption of the fruit. I love pomegranates and decided to eat one every single day. Ak did his bit by making grenadine syrup, which has now been preserved with some vodka, while the virgin version was used with soda for mocktails. Highly recommended- the flavours are just too fresh, and if it was peak summer, this would be the perfect cooler on a hot summery day. Ak will do a post on the grenadine cocktail soon.
                         However, the real struggle was with pistachios. 3 big bags of pistachios, lying there, waiting to be used. And I knew, that my next post had to include pistachios or else it would be a sheer waste. Personally, I am not much of a Pistachio person, but then, this was not just about me. The few things that I can recollect that were made with Pista were Kulfi and Baklava and they both had to be saved for another day, due to the process/setting time involved. Also, I discovered, that pistachio was rich in anti-oxidants and hence, had multiple health benefits. Biscotti was a no-no since we had enough at home. And I surely had something chocolaty in mind. On one of those days, when I was online, sifting through the blogging world, as Ak calls it, I was extremely tempted by Martha Stewart’s chocolate and pistachio Torte here .
The brown and green combination was extremely seductive; and hard to resist. A cake would be hard to consume as usual, so I decided to do brownies instead. I find Nigella’s Brownie’s a tried and tested recipe, and can never go wrong. It is flourless, and yes, heavy on butter; but when one is in the festive mood, a little butter can do no wrong. Have used it for Chocolate Chip Brownies earlier, and has been a stupendous hit and therefore this time, I decided to use it with the pistachios at hand. The original recipe can be found here (I used only half the quantities of what was mentioned)

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