H2Ope for Haiti – a BLOGGERAID fundraiser & a Tropical Fruit Pavlova

“Although each person’s donation may be small, even single drops of water will eventually fill a swimming pool”
BloggerAid
It’s time to give back … to give back to a blogging community that has helped us grow, finds time to stop by, has something nice to say, shares the highs as it does the lows, is there for you no matter what! It is heartening to see foodie bloggers come together for Blogger Aid to put together a cookbook which at one time seemed impossible. To see it happen was like a dream come true. This couldn’t have been possible without 2 truly wonderful hard-working bloggers, Val and Giz, the hearts behind Blogger Aid.

They came together to help publish the Blogger Aid Cookbook for the World Food Programme, and have now, with an intiative from Jeanne @ Cook Sister, have come up with another great event to extend a much needed hand to the horrific natural calamity we saw in Haiti.


As clean drinking water was one of the most acute needs in the aftermath of the quake, BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine selected Concern Worldwide because of its long track record and quick response after the quake to provide clean drinking water and water purification tablets.

From Sunday, February 21 – Sunday, February 28th, BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) is running H2Ope for Haiti, an online raffle to raise funds for Concern Worldwide’s relief effort in Haiti. For full details and how you can help please visit our HOME page at BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine  as well as our donation page at Justgiving. A list of prizes is available on the here.
It is time, dear readers, to try and give back a little bit. I have got much joy and inspiration from blogs and blogging, that I’m here to support Jeannes’ call  in my own little way…

 As part of the auction, I am offering a pair of hand painted Mughal miniature paintings (unframed) by artists from the princely state of Rajasthan in India.

Dimensions are 20cms X 10 cms each. Total 2 in number.
Will post worldwide.
PRIZE CODE:  HFH05
The Mughal miniature paintings feature stylized imagery in rich draped figures with a blend of Indian and Persian styles, reflecting India’s rich cultural heritage. The miniatures have a lyrical quality that enamors the mind and the soul. Most of the paintings are unique compositions on innumerable themes that are characteristic only of India. The colors used in the miniatures were derived from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. Some other themes revolve around love scenes, Mughal Royal courts and the battle fields in gold and stone colors.
Mughal miniature paintings are still being created today by a small number of artists in Rajasthan concentrated mainly in Jaipur. Although many of these miniatures are skillful copies of the originals, some artists have produced modern works using classic methods to, at times, remarkable artistic effect. A miniature painting, as the name signifies, is an intricate, colorful illuminations or painting, small in size, executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. The skills needed to produce these modern versions of Mughal miniatures are still passed on from generation to generation, although many artisans also employ dozens of workers, often painting under trying working conditions, to produce remarkable works sold under the signature of their modern masters. They reflect the painstaking efforts of skill and talents exhibited by Indian artisans, and are well acclaimed worldwide.
Tweet about the raffle ( #H2OpeforHaiti), Retweet it, mention it on Facebook, purchase a raffle ticket for a minimal amount,  tell all your friends, bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Any help you can give would be most appreciated. Thank you!

For this post, I chose to post a recipe from a beautiful book on desserts that I received from BloggerAid to review some time back. You can read a review about INDULGE – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark here where I made an Apple and Black Grape Band Aux Fruit. To connect to the H2Ope for Haiti event, it seemed right to pick something from the same book to post today. It’s a Tropical Fruit Pavlova from Indulge by Claire Clark. This was my first time making pavlovas …

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova. Colloquially referred to as “pav“, it is a cake of meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Where it was created and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but research indicates New Zealand as the source. The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and is frequently served during celebratory or holiday meals such as Christmas dinner.

The results were absolutely delicious, and I am amazed that I have procrastinated about making them for so long. The bases were light as air, crisp from the outside, and slightly soft from within. I painted the bases with some melted chcoolate because I was filling them ahead. Make sure you fill them with cream and fruit just 30 minutes prior to serving as they could go soggy otherwise. The melted chocolate prevented mine from getting soggy. I used a mix of low fat cream and mascarpone for the filling, and it complimented the fruit beautifully. This is an awesome dessert to make, and I know it shall be a difficult choice in the future to decide where to use the whites …  in macs or pavs!!

Tropical Fruit Pavlova
From Indulge – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark, page 100
Serves 6
(recipe scaled down to 3 egg whites)
3 large egg whites
150gms castor sugar
1 tsp cornflour, sifted
3/4 tsp white wine vinegar
Filling
adapted from Indulge
150ml cream (25% fat)
1/2 cup mascarpone (recipe here)
1-2 tbsp sugar
Tropical fruit (strawberries, kiwifruit, cape gooseberries etc)

Method:
Prehat the oven to 120C.

Beat the egg whites with 1/3 sugar with an electrical mixer to firm peaks, followed by another third for 1-2 mintes on medium speed. Then add the remaining 1/3rd, and beat in until just incorporated.
Using a large metal spoon, fold in the sifted cornflour and the white wine vinegar. Be careful not to overmix and lose volume.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, and drop a large spoonful of the meringue in a mound on the paper. Using the back of the spoon, make a well in the centre for the cream and fresh fruit to sit in, keeping the meringue as round as possible. Repeat to make 5 more mounds, making sure you leave 5cms/2inches between each one.
Bake for 1 hour or until the outside of the meringue is dry and golden, and the inside is still soft. Leave to cool completely. (I cracked mine a little because I was in a hurry to see how they baked!) 
Filling
Cut the fruit into different sized pieces.
Whip the cream and icing suger till firm. Smoothen the mascarpone with a spoon in a bowl, and gently fold in the whipped cream, being carefuil not to lose volume.
Paint the bases of the pavlovas with melted dark chocolate (optional)
Pipe or spoon into the centre of the cooled pavlovas, and decorate with an assortment of fresh tropical fruit.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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CHICKEN CURRY, OLYMPICS & BLOGGER AID … Culinary Connections!!

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”
  Harriet van Horne
My curry conversations are back. What’s not to love about curries? Was on Twitter the other day and Alessio, Davina and me got talking curries. Oooh delicious!! We discussed black cardamoms, green cardamoms, Indian spices and much more. I knew instantly what I would be posting about next! Seemed like the right time for curry…
It’s been ages since I posted a curry, though I make one quite often out of one of the many cookbooks I own. I had a lemon pepper curry on my mind, but Sunday distractions, kids at home, Mr PAB demanding attention to help pack for HKG etc had me fall back and simplify the curry. There was no time to marinate, no time to think lengthy … so I began with just throwing things into the wok. The camera on hand certainly made it easier to remember later ‘what I did next’!
This is a breezy and simple curry to make. Khade masale refer to whole spices. You roughly crush them in this recipe, and they release the most wonderful flavours when they hit the oil. If the onions browning in clarified butter had you smiling, the next burst of aromas will have you doing a jig! Other than paprika (degi mirch), I have used no other ground spices in the curry. It takes colour from the browned onions and paprika, and is great to eat with freshly made rotis/chapatis, naan, parathas … or even rice! It’s a mild flavoured curry and you can up the ante by adding crushed red chilies, or maybe even add a slit green chili about 10 minutes before it’s done. The flavours are awesome!
Think curry and you can instantly get transported to a world full of garam masala. It’s the crackling sound of whole spices hitting hot oil, of finely sliced onions browning merrily, of roasting and more roasting… there is something therapeutic about stirring curry. It’s something we gave to the culinary world…
…which brings me to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Canada! How in the world would I connect curry to Canada…but hang on, I can pull this off!! At BloggerAid, we have the BloggerAid-CFF Culinary Olympics running in tandem with the Winter Olympics in Canada. The ladies, Val and Giz, the strength and spirit behind BloggerAid, came up with this brilliant idea … Join us for the BloggerAid-CFF Culinary Olympics and share your nations pride. Submit a national dish and some Olympic inspiration.
In many ways BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine (BACFF) members are also athletes even if we’re not putting on skiis or hockey skates. Our sport is FOOD!!! We represent over 60 international countries who have created and developed a communication and friendship that has brought our world a little closer together with a mission to raise awareness. What better way to come together than to create a Culinary Olympics where we can share our pride for our nations cuisine.
 
India first participated in Olympics in 1900 in Paris. We have a pretty low medal tally as far as the games go, but, invite us to Culinary Olympics,  we’ll get to the kitchen first and cook up a storm. You will see us sweep the medals away. Indian curry’s have swept the globe from end to end, and there are millions of recipes. Every household, every region, every nook and cranny has their own version…
The history of curry goes back a long way. In fact, there is evidence of it being used in 1700 BC Mesopotamia. While use of curry probably originated in India, it was used in England as early as the 1300’s and probably even earlier. Mention of its use can be found in the first book written on English cooking, written during the time of Richard II (late 1300s). Interestingly enough, the word curry has a different meaning on the Western world then in India. In India, curry refers to a gravy or stew dish. Typically these dishes contain the Indian spice mix garam masala along with ginger, chili, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sometimes onion and garlic, but it can be made up of many things. In India different curry ingredients are regional. In the West, when we think of curry, we think of curry powder or dishes seasoned with it.

KHADE MASALE KA KORMA (Chicken curry with whole spices)
1 chicken on the bone, 800-1000gms, cut into 8-10 pieces
3 medium onions, 2 sliced fine, 1 roughly chopped
Whole spices (8-10 whole pepper, 6 cloves, 5-6 green cradamom)
4 cloves of garlic
1″ piece of ginger
1 tsp paprika powder
4 tbsps of yogurt, drained in cheescloth for 20-30 minutes
2-3 tbsps clarified butter (ghee) + 2 tbsps refined oil (or all oil)
Salt to taste

Method:

Grind the chopped onion, ginger and garlic, and keep aside.
Heat clarified butter and oil in a wok, and add the sliced onions. Fry until golden brown (this will take anywhere up to 30 minutes,more or less depending on the variety of onions) Stir them once in a while to ensure they brown evenly, and more importantly, they don’t burn.
Once the onions are golden brown, and smelling good, add the whole crushed spices and give them a good stir to release the flavours.
Now add the ground onion mixture and roast further on high heat till it all comes together (6-8minutes), and the oil begins to leave the sides. Add the paprika, give it a good stir, and finally add the chicken pieces. Mix in well to make sure all the pieces are well coated with the ‘masala‘. Continue to roast gently on high heat for 5 minutes, then add the drained yogurt and mix thorougly, yet gently. We don’t want to debone the chicken.
Now add about 3/4-1 cup of water and salt to taste. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the oil leaves the sides and the gravy thickens. You can add a slit green chili for flavour if you like.
(The gravy continues to thicken as the curry stands)
Serve with Indian roti, naan, pita bread…or a rice pulao!
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
The members of BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine have published a cookbook where 100% of the proceeds target children and education through the World Food Programme called School Meals. Purchases can be made by clicking here .
The highly successful BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine Cookbook continues to be available through the Create Space e-store. The e-store is a direct connection of Amazon. In answer to your questions the book cannot be found directly on the Amazon.com site. We have chosen to deal exclusively with Create Space where our children in the School Meals Programme with benefit the most!!!The children need our support!!!

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Mushroom Soup, Fougasse, Char-grilled Broccoli Salad… & Holiday Gift Ideas!

“I live on good soup, not on fine words”
Moliere
It’s time for a savoury break… short & crisp recipe as most of my family has been bitten by the flu bug. We have a house full of sniffles & coughs, and this soup is the call of today. This is also my Mom’s fave soup which she now makes more often than me. I put together this simple recipe ages ago, yet had to call her for the recipe yesterday because amnesia struck me!!


It’s off for Meeta’s Monthly Mingle which is rightfully calling for warming soups this time. I think I am just about making it in the nick of time. The mingle this month is being hosted by SunshineMom @ TongueTicklers. I used some wonderful superfood milled nut flour in the soup, which I got from my FBC09 goodie bag. This Linswood milled nut flour is about the most versatile superfood I have come across. easy to use & a great larder necessity, I find myself reaching out for it all the time.

I used it here in this wonderful French Fougasse, a beautiful bread which has become a firm favourite in our house. I make this bread often, with different fillings to keep the monotony at bay.… This time it had a little lingering taste of the milled nut flour within, and the filling was of roasted red bell pepper, mature cheddar cheese and chopped walnuts. You can find a Red Bell Pepper, Walnut & Gouda French Fougasse recipe here, & a French Fougasse with Ricotta, Walnuts & Romesco here. I brushed the top of one loaf with sea salt, and used roasted sesame seeds for the other.

Our meal was yummier with the addition of this beautiful , deep flavoured char grilled broccoli salad from a book that my sweet friend Hilda of SaffronBerry recently gifted me in London, the Ottolenghi – The Cookbook. I have been eyeing that salad from day 1, and today was just the right day to make it. I will share the recipe at a later date… but here is a picture of how robust and delicious broccoli can get!

Quick Mushroom Soup
Ingredients:
200gms button mushrooms, sliced
2 spring onion, chopped with greens
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp butter
250ml cold milk
1 tbsp cornflour
250ml chicken/vegetable stock; or milk (I used milk this time)
Dash of cream
1-2 tbsps milled nut seeds, optional
Salt and pepper to tateMethod:
Saute onions and garlic in butter til they become translucent. Add mushrooms and stir fry till they release thier liquid
Dissolve the cornflour in cold milk and add to above, stirring constantly till it begins to thicken.
Add chicken or vegetable stock and stir till comes to a simmering boil.
You can grate some cheese in if you like, or add a dash of cream/half and half if you like. Season with salt and pepper.
Cool and blend with immersion blewnder to keep slightly chunky consistency.
Before serving, heat through, add a tbsp or 2 of milled flour seeds. This adds a wonderful nutty texture and flavour.
Serve hot with a swirl of cream, sprig of fresh basil and wholewheat, oven baked croutons.

Oven baked croutons

Cube 2 slices of whole wheat bread, toss in 1 tbsp of olive oil / canola oil, 1 tbsp of milled nut seed flour, and a dash of salt. Make sure it is mixed well. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes till crisp and golden. Cool and store in an airtight box.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥


I’d like to offer some holiday gift suggestions too for a season which is full of the spirit of goodness, joy & sharing. It has been my ultimate pleasure to work with BloggerAid for the following cookbook which has now become a reality. It’s a wonderful book to gift for the holiday season, more so because 100% of the proceeds from sales will go to the UN World Food Programme. About the book…


Available from createspace at https://www.createspace.com/3405882.

Recipes from bloggers around the world making a difference By BloggerAid-CFF, Rhonda Renee, Mark Haak, Peter Georgakopoulos, Deeba Rajpal

Food does not simply nourish the body; food also celebrates what makes the world diverse, as well as, what unites us. The BloggerAid Cook Book is a collection of international recipes illustrating that we can work together and unite for a greater cause. The authors of this cookbook are food bloggers from around the world who have endeavored to make a difference by raising funds for the World Food Programme and encompassing their passion for “all things foodie” at the same time. Through these recipes they share their traditions and insatiable curiosity about new flavours. They pay tribute to the home cooking of our grandmothers, while celebrating the exoticism and richness of a world brought closer together by their hopes to make a difference. With recipes such as Tomato-Cheese Ravioli with Eggplant Sauce, Spicy Serundeng Tuna and Peanuts, Serrano Ham Paella with Oyster Mushrooms, Raspberry Mascarpone Bites and Triple Layer Orange-Passion Fruit Tart we are doing our part to say that bloggers can change the face of famine.

We chose the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) to receive the funds generated by the cookbook because of the wonderful work this organization does. The WFP has touched the lives of our members, many of whom are from countries where poverty is often a way of life. More specifically, 100% of BloggerAid’s proceeds from the cookbook will benefit the WFP’s School Meals Programme, which benefits an average of 22 million hungry children each year. School meals are important on many levels. In countries where school attendance is low, the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day boosts enrollment and promotes regular attendance.

This book is a virtual way for all of us, wherever we may be and however rich or poor we may be, to pull up a chair at the same table and share what we have.

Publication Date: Nov 10 2009
ISBN/EAN13: 1449561926 / 9781449561925
Page Count: 224
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 8″ x 10″
Language: English
Color: Full Color
Related Categories: Cooking / General

I was thrilled to see the BloggerAid Cookbook being offered by Meeta @ What’s For Lunch Honey as part of her bidding package for Menu For Hope. Do stop by at WFLH to see what more the package includes… you will not be disappointed!


A few days ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive a beautiful package ,via Val’s blog More Than Burnt Toast which had an assortment of pretty glass bottles filled with spice blends. They are from an artisanal food company, ‘Made With Love, whose product range includes ‘Spice Blends and Delectable Edibles‘. Made with Love is a family run business with a back to basics focus on integrity, insight and simplicity. We create our Spice Blends & Delectable Edibles from whole dried foods blended and packaged with care and attention to detail.

It was a beautiful gift to receive. Do stop by and take a look at what they have to offer. Their vision and commitment reflects that they work hard to source earth-safe packaging and organic materials.


Another great gift idea for foodies would be this excellent cookbook software from The Cookbook People. I received my own copy of this fantastic software from BloggerAid for winning an in house competition, and am really enjoying building my own cookbook page by page. The cookbook people are “committed to helping families keep their cherished recipes, so they designed their own family cookbook software. Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software prints your home-made family cookbooks. One copy…or as many copies as you want. Whenever YOU want. Because you make it yourself on your own computer!”

If you like, you could even add on a recipe binder or recipe box!


There is always place for yet another cookbook on our already stuffed bookshelves. One book I have immensely enjoyed reading, drooling over & planning to cook from is the ‘Ottolenghi – The Cookbook’ that Hilda gave me. It’s a book from the heart. It has history, it has stories, it has beautiful pictures & it has the ‘pick me up & cook‘ urgency in it! (I just cooked from it this afternoon; a char grilled broccoli salad … irresistible!)

In the author’s words “The Cookbook is our first attempt at “summing up” Ottolenghi food for the home cook. The 140 recipes cover everything we do: our prominent salads and roast vegetable dishes, cold meat and fish, substantial main courses from our dinner menu in Islington, some of our wholesome breads and savoury pastries, and a good mixture of the sweets that distinctively adorn Ottolenghi’s windows. We encourage you to use this open window into our world.


My last gift suggestion for today is a blend of foodie goodies like what we got in out goodie bags at the FBC09. Linswood has a wonderful array of super foods on offer. Throw into the bag some matured cheddar cheese, some quality organic olives, some Maldon sea salt, & you will be thanked forever!

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