Product Review | Classico ‘Espresso Coffee Machine’ from Tecnora #perfectcupofcoffee

“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

Classico 'Espresso Coffee Machine' from TecnoraOur recent trip to Sydney was brought even more alive with good cups of coffee from the crack of dawn to late into the night. They know how to brew a good cup. Oh those flat whites, lattes, cappuccinos, short blacks. Never ending delight sitting at cafes just looking at the variety of choices on offer, and how much folk Down Under enjoy a good brew. For those who have known me for long, you know that coffee is my first love. For those who don’t know me, welcome to my world flavoured by coffee. Coffee and me are inseparable. The mere aroma of coffee in the air is uplifting, seeing a barista at work, invigorating. Add it to dessert, and it’s nirvana!

Coffee in desserts @ PABWell homecoming had a pleasant surprise waiting for me, an espresso coffee machine standing tall on the counter. I still remember a coffee maker that I had bought from the UK years ago. For some reason I never used it as it involved filters and a 1000 bits and bobs that made life more work, less coffee! Cut to now, I took a little while getting used to this new machine from Tecnora. I’m a bit lazy {read plenty} on reading small print and instructions. That I had to do eventually, and soon I was brewing perfect little cups of coffee.Classico 'Espresso Coffee Machine' from TechnoraThe Classico ‘Espresso Coffee Machine’ is a neat machine, the colours stylish in steel and black. Sleek with classic good looks, it blended seamlessly onto my kitchen counter with the Thermomix, the air fryer and the blender. It is lightweight, quick off its feet and quite simple to use. Switch it on, push a few buttons and it surprises you with how snappy it is. It’s also really simple to wash up, with a handy removable drip tray. Easy clean is what I love!Wholegrain peach and cherry tray bakeThe sweet guys from Tecnora also sent me a bag of fine ground coffee beans to get me going. I also have some stash of Coorgi coffee that I love, some vanilla flavoured coffee, and a few more sachets as a lot of people gift me coffee. I made a rather nice rustic bake the other day, a Wholegrain Fresh Peach and Cherry Tray Bake. It paired beautifully with a shot of espresso. Do keep an eye out for the recipe.

Wholegrain Peach and Cherry Tray Bake with  espresso from TecnoraThe same day, I was doing a product shoot for UnTied, and the classic espresso cuppa turned out to be the perfect missing piece to complete my shot! I loved the way the frames worked!!

UnTiedNow that I have about mastered the perfect espresso shot, I have a few plans for more coffee madness. In the pipeline are affagato, espresso panna cotta, espresso coffee cake, probably Vietnamese iced coffee. My mouth is already watering as I share my plans.  Do you guys like coffee? What is your best way to enjoy it? Coffee in desserts? Tell me, tell me, tell me!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Ptasie_mleczko Cake or Birds Milk Cake … birthday cake and memories of Down Under

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”
Anthony Bourdain

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake …my adaptation. With a name as intriguing as that, I quickly jotted it down as my Ukranian friend translated it out of her mothers cookbook in Sydney earlier this month. There is an eternal charm in handwritten recipes of times gone by, this recipe book is from the 1960’s. Neat, and well explained, the recipes all written In Ukrainian, talk to you, explaining each step. The measures are often in glasses from the Old Soviet Union, standardised at 200ml, a measure my sweet friend continues to use as her mother once did.

Ptasie Mleczko (Polish) is a soft chocolate-covered candy filled with soft meringue (or milk soufflé). In Russian it is called ptichye moloko (птичье молоко) and in Romanian lapte de pasăre. All these names literally mean “bird’s milk” or crop milk, a substance somewhat resembling milk, produced by certain birds to feed their young. However, this is not origin of the name; rather, ptasie mleczko is also a Polish idiom meaning “an unobtainable delicacy”. In Poland, Jan Wedel, owner of the E. Wedel Company, developed the first Ptasie mleczko in 1936. Wedel’s inspiration for the name of the confectionery came from his voyages to France, when he asked himself: “What could bring greater happiness to a man who already has everything?” Then he thought: “Maybe only bird milk.”

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake This must be one of the quickest birthday cakes I’ve ever made. And yet another very very delicious one. You can find my coffee take on it at the bottom as Ulyana decided to bake one for us the night before we were due to fly out. No pictures of the cake in Sydney as we were racing against time. I didn’t get too many pictures of the cake I baked here too as coming home after a vacation is always far too busy. It was however tasty as hell!!

Sydney 2015

Sydney 2015 Our trip Down Under was great fun! All trips there always are! Sydney has been one of our fave places to go when possible, and this was our fourth trip. Like every earlier trip, this too was packed and flew by like a heartbeat. This trip was short, just a week ‘long’, but we had a great time. With hosts as good as ours, the days went by driving from mountains to beaches, with great food and drinks thrown in. Mindless banter, endless shopping what with the daughter with us, too much food,  overindulgence … ad before we knew it, time to fly back.

Sydney 2015 We flew in comfortably, sleeping all the way on Cathay Pacific, with a short stopover in HKG. There too the daughter shopped till we dropped for 3 whole hours.Hong Kong Hurriedly dug into some delicious street food, raced back to the hotel, showered and hopped onto the Sydney flight. A long 9 hour flight, some great food, Aussie wines too, Pamela’s book kept me entertained and nostalgic as we landed there into a crisp 4C at 6am. We were really blessed to see great weather the few days we were there.

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015We’ve done most of the iconic must see places on the earlier trips covering The Rocks, Opera House, Botanical Gardens, Tiranga Zoo {to date one of my sons fave places}, Butterfly Park, Harbour Bridge, Harry’s original van at Wooloomooloo, the Blue Mountains … and so much more. Yet a visit to the Blue Mountains is a quintessential part of Sydney for us, and that’s where we headed pretty soon. It as a freezing COLD day but we managed to stop by some breathtaking spots, taking in the gift that only nature can offer. Knocks your breath A W A Y!

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015 We went off piste, little walkways dot the Blue Mountains, each with a signboard telling you how long it takes to get to the destination, level of ease …and more! There’s loads to do. Did I mention stunning beaches? Yes those too!Maroubra Beach, Sydney 2015Beautiful beaches, birds, crabs, shells, nature, left over pizza from the Italian pizzeria from the night before, chilled beer though not as chilly as the cold winds, great company … couldn’t have asked for more.Maroubra Beach, Sydney 2015 Of course I shopped some too. It’s always good to know the ‘right’ people, who in turn know the right places…and a Sunday morning market later, I was back a happy camper. There was loads I could have gladly bought to ‘prop’ up the blog, but sense had to prevail. It was a struggle I tell you!Food Prop shopping, Sydney

Food prop shopping Sydney 2015No trip to Sydney for me is complete without a visit to Victoria’s Basement. Though short on time, we did a quick walk through, a near impossible task in itself given the treasure trove you can find under a roof! I shopped a wee bit more here and there, constantly thinking of how much I could stuff back into suitcases. You know! Oh the choices we have to make!

Sydney 2015With travel comes food, and most good memories are tied to taste! Knowing the right folk is great! It’s satiating to explore a country through it’s cuisine, and then comes the added bonus of exploring the flavours they brought from their native lands. So we were spoilt. Ukranian cusine filled our days alongside Aussie quintessential. Gourmet sausages on the barbeque that made the tastiest hotdogs, slow cooked {read dropping off the bone good} lamb-shanks with chickpeas and spinach, Caesar salad galore, smoked Polish sausages and cold cuts, Ukranian potato latkes with garlic and sour cream, artisan pizzas, more Aussie reds, red wine too, pancakes for breakfast with whipped cream and local preserves, cheese in every avatar to die, then more local artisanal unripened cheese as if that was not enough …Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake Sweet stuff too, though no pictures. Fresh cherry strudel, macadamia and caramel ice cream, divine coffee gelato, berry gelato too, and then of course this beautiful Birds Milk Cake flavoured with the organic lemon from the yard the night before we flew out. I dreamt of the cake as I slept on the flight back home. I knew I just had to make one soon, my pet flavours dancing in my head.

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake That’s just what I did the next day for the son’s birthday. As we melted into a sizzling North Indian summer at 45C, desperately trying to hang on to memories of 12C, the crisp and beautiful Aussie winter we left behind, Ihit baking mode. This cake bridged the gap beautifully, and that is what good food & travel is all about. Makes you come full circle, flavours and memories sharing a plateful! What a delightful {and delicious} journey this food business is!

Recipe: Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake
your picture

Summary: Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake finds it’s roots possibly in the Old Soviet Union. A preparation for the light as air filling quite as intriguing as the name ‘birds milk’, it’s a moist and delicious cake that takes well to added flavours. Make ahead and chill for the flavours to mature. It tastes wonedrful as a fresh tray bake as originally intended to be too. Serves 8

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour {plus cooling and chilling}
Ingredients:

  • Cake
  • 130g butter
  • 200ml / 1 glass brown vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 200ml / 1 glass all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Filling
  • 150g butter
  • 400ml / 2 glasses milk
  • 100ml/ 1/2 glass sugar
  • 3 tbsp semolina /suji
  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua {optional}
  • Topping
  • 50g dark couverture chocolate
  • 100ml low fat cream
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • White chocolate shavings to garnish

Method:

  1. Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 X 8″ round baking tins with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Reserve.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, ten the vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly fold in the dry mix. Turn batter into tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool in tins for 15-20 minutes then cool completely on rack.
  6. Filling
  7. Make this while the cake is baking {or a few hours before too}
  8. Place the sugar, semolina, coffee and milk in a heavy bottom pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens. Leave to cool completely.
  9. When the cake is ready and cool, make the remaining filling.
  10. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the coffee semolina and Kahlua if using.
  11. Assemble
  12. Place one layer on serving platter and keep in place with an 8″ dessert ring. ladle over half the filling and top with second layer. Top with remaining filling, cover and refrigerate for a few hours {or overnight} for flavours to mature.
  13. Take the ring off gently, top with chocolate ganache {recipe follows} and white chocolate shavings.
  14. Chocolate Ganache
  15. Place ingredients in a heat proof bowl and microwave 1 minute at a time until the chocolate has almost melted. Stir until smooth and glossy. Cool to room temperature before use.

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Blog Event | DMBLGiT Apr 2015 … ‘Does My Blog Look Good in This’. It’s back! #foodphotography #contest

“Food photos are never just about food. They’re equally about people, landscapes, capturing moments, and a sense of place.”
Penny De Los Santos

Dulce de leche bundt cake There’s something about food photography that makes the heart skip a beat. It’s a truly rewarding experience, a visual delight, an instant connect. The immense sea of talent that food blogs now offer hits the ball out of the park. It fills me with pleasure to have the privilege of hosting this months DMBLGiT, a food photography contest, on PAB.

DalsDMBLGiT – short for Does My Blog Look Good in This, is a community run food photography contest that was established in 2005, 10 years ago. It’s a one of its kind contest that is hosted by different food bloggers every month and is judged by outstanding food photographers who love DMBLGiT. I still remember the shock at picking up a badge many years ago while timidly blogging in my little corner of the world. That was a post in November 2008. It’s really been a while…

dmblgit_blue dec2008 In 2014, Neel @ LFP “acquired” this food photography contest from Andrew who was running this contest for several years. I’ve known Neel for several years, and was thrilled to catch up with him in Bangalore last year at the IFBM. He has done more for food photography than anyone can imagine to ‘capture’ food in frame! DMBLGiT was relaunched last month … and the announcement filled me with nostalgia. It was but natural that he would revive DMBLGiT some day!bundts 800 It’s a simple contest. Photographs are reviewed by a panel of judges, who score them in three categories: edibility, aesthetics, and originality. The host {me in this case} then compiles the scores to determine the winners. I have invited 3 food photographers I admire to be part of the panel this month.Mulberry fro yoThere is the very talented Bulgarian born Sophia Terra-Ziva from Sydney whos work I hugely admire. She has a very clear perspective, plays with colours beautifully and has won several food photography awards. Her frames tell a compelling tale, her energy amazes!

Our second judge is the sweet and uber talented Ludmila Slokoski, coincidentally again from Bulgaria and based in Sophia. She is the author of one of Bulgaria’s most popular food blogs Salted Lemons which reflects her love for the tastes and colors of great food. The last two years Ludmila has been working as the editor-in-chief and photographer of BBC GoodFood Bulgaria magazine.

… and last but not the least, our third judge is Neel who really needs no introduction as he is the force behind resurrecting this beautiful DMBLGiT concept! Neel is also the star {with his better half G} who has successfully run Learn Food Photography for the past so many years. From an old Russian 35 mm film camera, Zenit, to plugging in his memory card, Neel, the hobbyist photographer and professional engineer, is living a dream life!

 Food Styling @ PABThe specific things the judges will be looking for are as follows:

Aesthetics: composition, food styling, lighting, focus, etc.
Edibility: “does the photo make us want to dive in and eat the food?”
Originality: the photograph that catches our attention and makes us want to say “wow!”, displaying something we might not have seen before.
Overall Winner: top overall scores in all three categories combined.

Vine tomatoes with LFP There are three overall winners for photographs with the highest point totals in all three categories combined, and one winner in each of the three individual categories. So… ready to participate? To participate simply email me your best photograph you took in Mar ’15 using the submission instructions below.

How to Participate – Photo Submission Requirements

  1. Send your photos at an attachment to dmblgit[at]learnfoodphotography[dot]com with Subject “DMBLGiT April 2015″
  2. Include this information in your photo submission
    1. Your full name
    2. Your blog name and URL
    3. Title of your photograph
    4. URL to blogpost where submitted photo is posted
    5. Agreement from you agreeing to let us display your photo on host website, learnfoodphotography.com and DMBLGiT contest gallery. We won’t use your photo for any other purpose outside DMBLGiT.
  3. Important: File format needs to be jpeg format and longest size should be no longer than 500 pixels. This means for horizontal or landscape format max 500 px width and for vertical or portrait format max 500 px height.
  4. Photo must not have any text.

General DMBLGiT Contest Rules

  1. Only one entry per person. One photograph. No diptychs.

  2. This photo should be taken and posted in the month of Mar 2015.

  3. This goes without saying but well … you must have taken this photograph and should have copyrights to this photo.

  4. Entries must be received by Apr 20th at midnight I.S.T (Indian Standard Time) using all requirements described in the photo requirements section.

Food Styling @ PABDon’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India