Baking | Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peaches + walnuts +orange peel … a healthier version of the Italian Tea Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M.F.K. Fischer

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the Italian Tea Bread. I’ve been fascinated by the Stollen for long. Actually ever since I discovered homemade quark. Once I figured there was something as good as Austrian curd cheese, AND that I could easily make some at home, I naturally went around looking for ways to use it. Wasn’t long before I discovered the Dresden Stollen. Indulgent Italian holiday bread. I baked another recipe into a Stollen Bread Pudding.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen I loved making it. Would love to make more batches but for the fact it 1s a 100% all purpose flour tea bread. The wholegrain bug I have been bitten by doesn’t allow me to go back that easily. The odd birthday cakes with APF are OK; they’re once in a while indulgent stuff. One look at Meeta’s Stollen the other day, and the craving set in. It was time for STOLLEN! More precisely, Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the Italian Tea Bread.Wholegrain Xmas Stollen’twas an experiment. Came out quite well. It’s inspired by Meeta’s favorite version, a Date Fig Quark Stollen. Mine is partially whole wheat, partially almond meal and partially APF. It’s not as light as my earlier APF Dresden Stollen, but we are certainly not complaining. This turned out yum if I may so so myself. Once you make your own quark { prep 2 days in advance}, or if you just buy it, it’s an easy bread to throw together.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen dried peaches + walnuts +orange peelPacked with dried peaches that I picked up in Srinagar this summer, crystallised orange peel {that I made some time ago} and chopped walnuts, it’s a special Christmas bread. Couldn’t add raisins and such as the boy can’t stand them. I have an Xmas fruit cake to make too, and I think it’s gonna be a nut cake as things go. The nuts are still soaking….. que sera sera. Hope I get there in time!Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Either go Meeta’s  baking powder way, or my yeast route, both ways would work well. It’s been raining here in North India the past few days, so the dough didn’t get a chance to rise well. You might get a better ‘rise’ if the weather permits. Let me know if you make this. It’s delicious. Do wrap it and keep it for 2-3 days before slicing. It’s more moist once it matures for a couple of days. Mince sliced beautifully and was moist too.

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Masterclass | An interactive Italian cooking class with Chef Maurizio Raselli, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi … & a green bean potato salad

“You create something with your own hands, add a dash of your heart and when you see a satisfied diner relishing it, the feeling goes to your soul,”
Maurizio Raselli

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass It’s the passion, the energy, the enthusiasm, the free spirited and relaxed young chef who greets you. The emotions are infectious and before you know it, the charismatic Maurizio Raselli casts a spell over you. From there he effortlessly leads you into his chamber {read private kitchen, with a large glass window, well lit and fully equipped} for a therapeutic, unwinding, endlessly entertaining and interactive Italian cooking class. That’s what Camp Charmaine was about!

With poster boy good looks , a charm that can instantly disable, and a smile that can light a room, this young man is passionate about what he does. Hailing from the Piedmont region of Italy, Chef Maurizio Raselli is happy to be in India.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass He thinks food, he celebrates food and believes in simple, good cooking. His mantra is clear. Use the best ingredients, keep it simple, do it from scratch, cook from the heart, use your head … discover the soul of a good dish! Every dish he created was gold standard! Effortlessly conversing with us, with his ingredients, with himself too, hands flying all over the place, he enjoyed every single moment!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass We loved it too! Tremendously. It was a treat being invited to the camp held at the beautiful Hyatt Regency, New Delhi. A little bit about the concept. It’s the brainchild of young, enthusiastic and affable Vidhi Jatia {extreme right below}, the CEO & Director of Charmaine. Charmaine means ‘Charm’ and you can see the concept taking life right from the word go!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass

Charmaine is aimed at young girls and ladies who are wanting to learn about etiquette – social and communication skills, table manners and dining etiquette, grooming, hair and make up, fashion and styling as well as image consulting, nutrition, wine and wine glasses, wine and cheeses, cooking and plating dishes, cocktail making etc…. the list goes on! They do customised classes for beginners right up to advanced camps.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass The interactive cooking session was stellar. Simple, unfussy,  good quality ingredients and a load of elbow grease is the secret to Italian cuisine. “Read a recipe, then forget it“, he says! A diehard Italian cuisine fan, he learnt the tricks of the trade watching his grandmother cook.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass Lavished generously with small handy tips, some amazingly simple yet so effective. It was a well set menu. We did 4 dishes, each one special, with flavours that pleased. Beginning with a simple, moorish green bean and potato salad, it was surprising how much flavour he incorporated into the almost humble salad. {catch the recipe at the bottom}.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass Every ingredient was treated lovingly, right from handling the beans to chopping the spuds, he ENJOYED the process. Expertly tossing the dressing, not distracted by us talking nineteen to a dozen, Maurizio seems born to do this. The salad was outstanding in flavour, everyday ingredients beautifully paired.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass Onto the risotto and I was ‘iffy‘. Shrimp, calamari and asparagus sounded exotic good, but I’m not a ‘seafood’ person and was apprehensive. The risotto used Maurizio’s rice of choice, Riso Scotti Carnaroli. He prefers carnaroli over arborio as it has a higher starch content. The risotto was simmering very soon…. Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass This class was beginning to be really good. With 2 dishes to go, Maurizzio decided to show us his muscle power and within 1 few minutes was happily kneading pasta dough. Keep it simple he said. Too many egg yolks do not a tasty pasta make! With perfect eyeballing, he tossed flour, eggs, salt and olive oil …dashes of water, some serious {and well appreciated} kneading later, he left the dough to rest.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass While the dough rested, the risotto was done. A nice generous helping of mature parmesan and butter later, it was plated to perfection, with another generous drizzle of EVOO!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass With Ruchira quickly doing a taste test, she confirmed that it wasn’t ‘fishy’ at all. I was convinced and then couldn’t stop devouring spoonful after spoonful. Excellent! Creamy, fab texture, good bite, all the flavours just right. One of the best risottos we’ve had. Almost wiped the platter clean, even though we were yet be served lunch.Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass By which time the pasta sauce was being expertly panned! It was very simple and yet very delicious. While the sauce gently cooked {begun with all ingredients in a cold pan so as to not give it a thermal shock}, the efficient chef turned his attention to rolling out the pasta. He spoke about tortini, tortellini and ravioli, dispelling several misnomers we had.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass It was a treat watching him create the filling for ravioli. Simply blanch the spinach. Dunk into cold water and then press. Yes, he showed off his muscle power yet again, much the the glee of the ladies. All the liquid must be squeezed out, ALL of it! Then came some expert chopping. You would not like to get a leaf in your mouth he questioned? Would you? Make sure you don’t overstuff them, he warned. We need the bite of pasta as well as the filling.Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass The sauce was as simple as it was delicious. Just enough to add some beautiful moistness to the pasta, some mature parmesan to give it the added luxury, some EVOO…and it was soon gone! He certainly created magic! Bravo!!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass Soon it was time for tiramisu. In a matter of seconds he grabbed a HUGE bowl, separate the yolks and white and got down to whipping manually. He was now beginning to enjoy showing off his muscle power to the awed women! The yolks are the easy part he said, eyeballing some sugar into the bowl with the yolks. What unbelievably followed next were the whites. I have never seen egg whites come to stiff peaks whipped by hand in a matter of minutes. We all stared …

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass 18What a tiramisu that was. Maybe the best ever. Not too sweet, full of deep coffee flavour, no liqueur as was his choice, the zabaglione mousse and light. Creamy but sans cream, it was excellent.

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass We soon shifted to the table set at the beautiful Hyatt Club, a private seating and lounging arrangement. With newly done and refurbished interiors, it’s chic, relaxed, well lit and spacious. We devoured a lot fresh and delicious bread with our meal. Chef Bungla who heads the bakery at the Hyatt is one of the most unassuming and humble chefs around. He was sweet enough to part with some sourdough starter. And Maurizio presented us each with a jar of bruschetta topping he made.

Sourdough bread with Maurizio's bruschetta topping Well I baked bread soon after. That with the topping was addictive good! Will share the recipe sometime soon! Until then, here’s the simple bean and potato salad that we loved!

Recipe: Green beans and potato salad, aged parmesan flakes, rocket leaves, mint and shallot dressing 

Summary: Recipe courtesy Chef Maurizio Raselli, Hyatt Regency, New Delhi

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 80g diced beans
  • 80g diced potatoes
  • 5g shallot
  • 10g EVOO
  • white vinegar
  • 20g aged parmesan
  • rocket leaves
  • mint
  • parsley
  • almond flakes

Method:

  1. Cook the beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Trim the beans, and open them into two follwoing the natural line.
  3. Cook the potatoes diced in water till soft.
  4. In a bowl mix the beans and slightly mashed potatoes
  5. Add the grated parmesan, EVOO< shallot brunoise with vinegar, mint leaves and chopped parsley.
  6. Plate it nicely with some rocket leaves underneath and fresh grated parmesan on top as garnish.
  7. Serve warm

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Baking | Roasted Garlic Foccacia … & a salute to the ‘Fukushima 50’!

“All sorrows are  less with bread.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Roasted Garlic FocacciaIs it just me, or does time really seem to crawl when you want life to get back to normal? Japan is still battling its worse ever crisis, the world looks on with fingers crossed, living in hope that things will get better. Hope rests on unlikely heroes, a band of brothers who work tirelessly round the clock with strength and resilience, reflecting the true spirit of the nation they belong to. The Fukushima 50, the bravest of the brave, put their lives on hold while they battle radiation risks to save impending disaster. The world salutes your spirit!Roasted Garlic FoccaciaAs my mind is overtaken by thoughts of Japan, the bread I post today is simple yet comforting,  a good classic bread with deep taste.  A few days ago, I had this obsessive desire to bake bread. The weather here is changing, warming up rather quickly, an indication that bread baking days are back again.Roasted Garlic FoccaciaOften I forget to begin the bread process the previous evening; just don’t plan right. It’s such a bother! I’d had focaccia on my mind for a few days. That morning, leafing through my cookbooks and recipes {including Ottolenghi & Peter Reinhart}, figured I was late for the poolish again. Poolish is like a starter, a mother dough, and is also referred to as a pre-ferment or biga. Roasted Garlic FoccaciaYet, bread I HAD to bake! The insane idea didn’t want to leave my head, so it was back to the net,  proving for the  infinite time that net dependency is something that isn’t easy to shake off! One of the first matches for ‘same day focaccia ‘ led me to Pease-Pudding! What’s not to love about the name? One step into the delicious blog and it was time to bookmark. Pease-Pudding is hosted by a North English lass who lives in New Zealand. She loves peas and she loves pudding, has a passion for desserts, hence the name.Roasted Garlic FoccaciaOf the bread she said on her post, “I have made the bread three times now and each time it turns out perfect. The difference with this dough is that it is more like a wet poolishand not one you knead.”  We absolutely loved the focaccia. The crust and texture of both the inside and the outside were addictive. It was obvious why she had made it thrice in a week. I would too!!Roasted Garlic Foccacia A handsome splash of extra virgin olive oil, a couple of heads of roasted garlic in the dough, a sprinkling of fresh oregano, sea salt & more garlic on top. I couldn’t have asked for better, more  comforting bread! It’s simple, is ready to bake in a couple of hours, and the olive oil lavished on top gives it a beautiful crust. Not sure if the addition of vital gluten had anything to do with it, but the insides were airy, light and delightfully chewy. 

Thank you for stopping by

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