Book Review | Vicky Goes Veg … green, fresh and exciting – and a copy to giveaway

‘Going green has never been so deliciously exciting. Bon Apetit…’
Farhan Akhtar

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes VegRoasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad from Vicky Goes Veg. Everything about the book is colourful, fresh, exciting, full of flavour and vegetarian of course! It’s an exciting new book by Chef Vicky Ratnani and holds a LOT of promise. Vegetarianism is no longer considered ‘second food. Slowly but surely vegetarian centric cookbooks are appearing on bookshelves, grabbing eyeballs as they do so!Vicky Goes Veg @ The Palms, GurgaonWe were hosted by Harper Collins & Nachiketa at the lush and beautiful ‘The Palms‘, Gurgaon for the book launch. Vicky Ratnani has infectious energy, is animated and absolutely passionate about food. I was fortunate to meet him in Jan last year at a tea & food pairing session, and it certainly was a pleasure to meet him again.Vicky Goes Veg, The Palms,.Gurgaon

Vicky Goes Veg He held fort by the poolside under the blazing setting sun, which shouldn’t have been quite so blazing in Mid March … but was! Sporting that he is, he didn’t blink an eyelid, no complaints nothing. He was there well before the guests began to arrive and after a short delay {thanks to the TV crew}, he fired up!

Eggplant & Bok Choy in Sambal, Vicky Goes VegSauteing, chatting, sharing tips and trivia and a load of his passion, he held the attention of the select audience. As he stirred up magic, we were served the same from the kitchen alongside. The flavours blew us away! Who wants to eat non vegetarian food if vegetarian food can be so exciting. Not me!! The Braised Plantain with Thai spices was out of the world good, as was the Eggplant & Bok choy in sambal.

Local produceI love the energy throughout the book. It entices you to ‘try’ something different. I also love that Vicky has stuck to the concept of  sourcing local produce, something that makes the locavore in me do a merry dance. The photographs that liberally colour the pages are a journey of the food chain in India including the merchants and the local bazaars.

Carrots,beets, home grown 2Vicky is often seen arm in arm with the guys who matter … yes, those who grow, deliver and sell local produce. It’s refreshing to see so much space dedicated to the local sabziwala i.e. vegetable vendors. The recipes in the book are unique, hail from across the world but come with an Indian twist, all green and fresh!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes Veg The good thing is that Vicky encourages you to think out of the box, constantly innovate and evolve. He offers his book as a stepping stone for new ideas in vegetarian cooking, and tells you to be fearless. If you don’t have this, use that. There’s plenty of trivia tucked within that makes the book even more interesting. One downside is that the number of portions or ‘servings’ aren’t specified.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes Veg So I set off to make the Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad.  Of course, my heart followed his advice and my recipe meandered off as I was short on time. I didn’t blend the dressing, only whisked it. Substituted apricots for walnuts, simplified the dressing a bit. I also made Stromboli from the book which disappeared too quick!

If you’d like to win a copy of the book, VICKY GOES VEG, please leave a comment below telling me which your favourite vegetarian dish from across the globe is. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. This giveaway is open to residents of India, or anyone with an Indian mailing address. {Giveaway sponsored by Harper Collins}

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Baking | Wholewheat Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Great Cookie Swap 2013 #fbcookieswap

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013Wholewheat Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels … it’s the time of the year when the bells begin to jingle and there are hungry cookie monsters on the prowl. With the cookie season in full swing, this year I have literally abandoned plain flour for whole grains. This year, there was another reason to bake cookies – a fundraiser called the Great Cookie Swap 2013, which a bunch of us got roped into thanks to sweet Charis via Roshni!

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 I’ve been watching it take shape over the years, attempted to enroll once. We never did find enough folk to make a ‘team’ in India. This time was different and we made a beginning. With India now on the map, hopefully we get a whole bunch of food bloggers joining in next year. If you wish to be notified about the swap next year, do sign up here

Gingerbread menThe cookie baking experience was a whole lot different this year thanks to the event. The swap made it special. For a change I was baking for a cause, and guarding my loot from the cookie monsters! From a dozen that were normally available for them to munch, there were just a couple on offer!

Cookie Swap 2013We had to bake a dozen cookies for each of 3 surprise recipients, who wouldn’t know until the bell rang that cookies had arrived. I was fortunate to get my first secret batch from RiddhiCook By The Book. Her cookies were delicious! That set me in the mood and I headed straight for the kitchen.

Cookie Swap 2013I wanted to bake everything for everyone, but then got real. Couriering can prove to be harsh on cookies, the logistics a little dicey. I narrowed down to whole-wheat cinnamon ginger cookies and whole-wheat chocolate pretzel cookies. I had recently made dozens of whole-wheat gingerbread men for a home for homeless girls and really enjoyed that experience.

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 I decided to bake fluted cookies for the swap since gingerbread men are fragile. Then the daughter joined in, found some doily cookies on Pinterest and pestered me to make them. I did but with whole-wheat gingerbread cookie dough.

Doily Cookies for the Cookie Swap 2013She wasn’t a 100% impressed though as wanted finer lacier cookies. I was happy with whole-wheat deep flavoured ones. I think the doily idea is stunning, and would definitely work more beautifully on sugar cookie dough etc. This was something new learnt, and immensely enjoyed. It certainly was a WOW moment!

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 The chocolate pretzel cookies I used to make often when the kids were little. Haven’t made them in years. To my delight, the minute tray #1 popped out of the oven, the daughter whooped in delight, “Yay pretzels!! You haven’t made them in years. I love them“. The son reacted similarly!! Happily enough, there were plenty for the two of them too.

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 The pretzels too underwent a wholegrain makeover. The kids loved them like before. I still wonder why I didn’t think of these things earlier. They tasted crunchy good and chocolaty with whole wheat flour too.

Gingerbread men,  Doily Cookies & Chocolate Pretzels for the Cookie Swap 2013 I love the idea of a bakers dozen, and stuck in a cute gingerbread man to accompany the cookies. Each box had a special happy man in there too. I hope my cookies surprised my secret recipients.

The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers.

This year they have again partnered with COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease.

 I really enjoyed doing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap‘. From deciding what to bake, to waiting impatiently for the surprises to arrive, to waiting for posting date, it was n enriching experience.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie SwapThank you Riddhi @ Cook by the Book for the wonderful Zesty Whole-wheat Pumpkin Seeds Oatmeal Cookies, Sangeeta @ Healthfood Desi Videshi for the addictive savoury GF Lentil Cookies {with loads of my favourite flavours}, and Roshni @ The Vanilla Bean for the delicious Lavender Crisps.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013My cookies to Sangeeta and Himanshu reached quite early, but Riddhi in Bangalore wan’t that lucky. Got a call just this afternoon from the courier that the package came back undelivered. Sangeeta’s cookies also apparently reached Riddhi very late. Will mail some later as she is travelling this month!

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Baking | Tribute to The Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis … and Savoury Phyllo Chicken Pot Pies #tributetolis #daringbakers

“Once a Daring Baker, always a Daring Baker. It’s the best baking community on the web!”

Daring BakersHow do you begin to pay a tribute to someone who made a lot of us who or what we are today! We woke up to the tragic news that that the very largehearted & fun, the cornerstone of the best group for bakers ever created, the Daring Bakers,  Lisa passed away. With the lovely Ivonne, Lisa inspired, she cajoled, she filled in, she encouraged, she whipped us along, whisking us into a homogenous group … one of the best baking communities ever created on the web.

RIP Lis, The Queen of All Daring Bakers

Lisa Cifelli of La Mia Cucina, co-founder of The Daring Kitchen (originally The Daring Bakers) passed away unexpectedly a few days ago. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Lis, understands how much she will be missed. Her big heart, incredible sense of humor, epic emails, and mad organization skills were legendary. Bless her eternally cotton socks! {Kelly P}

Baklava with phyllo from scratch

In November 2006, Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice decided to challenge themselves to bake pretzels for the very first time using the same recipe. They each went ahead and posted about it on November 18, 2006. Having enjoyed that experience tremendously, they decided to try it again the next month, this time choosing to bake biscotti. And to make matters even better, they were joined by a few more food bloggers. As the months went by, their baking group continued to grow, until it was finally decided that this “little baking group” had to have a name and The Daring Bakers were born! The Daring Cooks were formed in 2009 as a way to learn how to become better home cooks. The idea spread like wildfire with 1000′s of people who also wished to learn more joined in on the monthly challenges.

Today, The Daring Bakers and The Daring Cooks span the world as bakers/cooks of all nationalities come together once a month to try something new in the kitchen!

Homemade evaporated milk for Tres LechesI am the baker that I am only because of the Daring Bakers. It’s been a steep upward climb at times. We’ve been through 18 pages of recipe for Julia Childs French Loaf  in Feb ’08. We’ve giggled & wept together, have whispered behind the scenes, gasped in horror when one of us let the cat out of the bag on twitter before the sacred posting date! What a community!

Daring Bakers 2In the spirit of this fabulous, close knit community, we’ve come together, some still with the group, some who left a while ago, and lots of new DBr’s … united together to pay a tribute to the Queen of Daring Bakers! {Thank you for doing this Kelly P} I have made some of my best food blogger friends thanks to the DBs. Lis and Ivonne created something magical on the web; something that has never been replicated!

Daring Bakers I say it to myself every month, I love being a Daring Baker! I miss a few as I struggle to cut out carbs, attempt to go wheat free, yet the temptation is always there. Looking back at previous challenges, the first one still comes to mind, as real as it was happening yesterday. Dark Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter Filling  I was chuffed to be accepted as a Daring Baker way back in January 2008. The very first challenge was a Lemon Meringue Pie. It was the ‘dark baking ages‘ in India at the time; I was very new to meringues and such. Oh how I wept. I still remember the emails exchanged with Lis and the encouragement and inspiration she offered. My pie wept, and I with it. Thought they’d chuck me out of the group. Felt like I had failed a major!

Lis stopped by to say…  “Pure genius going with the lil hearts on the crust! Would you mind if I did that one day? :) Well I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as you intended, but it sure did turn out pretty! Welcome to the DB’ers! xoxo

The camaraderie grew as a bunch of us chatted away behind the screens, discussing challenges in loud whispers. Meeta, Jamie, Ilva, Hilda, Dharam, Val, Kelly P, Barbara, Rosa, Jasmine, Judy, Andrea, Susan, Aparna, Coco … so many others! 

Oh those days! Some of my all time favourite challenges were …

Povitica ... A Croatian Sweet Walnut BreadPovitica {one of my most pinned and visited posts}, Momofukus Infamous Crack PieSans Rival CakeFilled Pate a Choux SwansBaklava with phyllo from scratch,Stollen PuddingDutch Crunch Bread or TijgerbroodTiramisu, Croquembouche

Daring Bakers

Jaconde imprime /entremetsMango Pastel de Tres LechesGingerbread HouseBattenbergDark Chocolate Beetroot Cake with Peanut Butter icing …and so so many more. We struggled sometimes, we conquered each time. Every  challenge meaningful.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phylloI missed posting the October challenge. I thought I would skip it, then got very tempted, succumbed past the date … and then procrastinated a little as the pictures sat in the camera. Had the post sched for this weekend. RIP beautiful lady! The Kitchen has taught me a lot!

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo … inspiration can strike anytime, this time from another Daring Baker, Suma in Bangalore. She pinged me the other day wondering why I hadn’t done it, given that it was savoury and I love everything savoury!

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo I am steering clear of all purpose flour in my baking, and personally have been off wheat for over 6 months in an attempt to sort out some allergies. Mr PAB too has recently joined me, so I was a guinea pig short.

Lighter Chicken Pot Pies with homemade phyllo The daughter is on a diet, low carbs etc … but I could see she would love this. We love pot pies at home. The boy of course is game for anything and everything pot pie, chicken, pastry. Just churn out delicious bakes day after day… and he is a happy camper. The pies were everything good!!

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The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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