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!

Don’t miss a post

FRUITY APPLE SPIRAL SWIRLS … for Monthly Mingle

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Henry James
It’s time for Monthly Mingle, Meeta’s little baby that she so lovingly created in 2006. It’s being hosted this time by Aparna @ My Diverse kitchen. The Monthly Mingle call this month is for high tea snacks, something I used to find quite challenging not so long ago. No longer though since blogging has opened untold avenues. ‘Don’t know what to make’ is passe! Now it’s more like, “shall I make this, this, this, or, oooooh this”!
The call was for ‘High Tea Treats’, & I immediately got transported to the Ritz, a hotel we oft halted outside often while wandering around Central London. Never did we step in, for in those days the pockets were empty, and so The Ritz intimidating! Known for it’s afternoon tea service, the picture in my mind of The Ritz is a whimsical one … well laid tables, dainty linen, polished silver, fine china, delicate pastries, elegant petit fours, scones, clotted cream, jam … !

Reading Indulge-100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark led me into the kitchens in the basement of The Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly where she worked as a pastry chef in 1984. I quote from her book, “I dreaded the run up to the weekend, when the hotel held its famous tea dances. We would slave away all week constructing the intricate, delicate and elegant pastries to give ourselves time to make, roll, cut and bake vast amounts of scones on the day.”

I associate British cuisine with high tea, a tradition as elegant as it is beautiful. My first exposure to this lovely tradition was back in the 80′s when a bunch of us girlfriends had gone over to stay in a castle up in North England that was being restored by a Scottish lady. The memories are quite faint now, but I vividly remember a couple of things … the huge gate-posts made of stone with carved lion heads, early morning mist, beds of lavender, the beautiful guest rooms in hues of pastel pinks & lilac, interiors daintily done up in hand-made lace and linen made by Irish nuns … & fresh scones for tea!
I made ‘Coffee-glazed Chocolate chip scones’ almost exactly a year ago from Ari‘s Baking & Books, and some ‘Dark Chocolate, Craisin & Walnut Scones’ from a David Lebovitz recipe more recently. So this time, for the Monthly Mingle, I explored BBC Good Food for tea snacks, and found plenty of eye candy there. Beautiful options from the Olive Magazine amongst others, but I eventually settled for this rather rustic roll … Fruity Spices Swirls. I had all the ingredients on hand, & the recipe seemed simple, allowing me room for change. It’s very difficult for me to stick to a recipe to the T, as my mind tends to wander off marking its own path. These fruity swirls are something like an apple strudel, but sans the hard work of rolling paper thin pastry. Then again, something like a Swiss roll, but with rustic pastry. The pastry isn’t flaky & buttery, but is still light & full of apple, raisin & nuts tossed in a spiced sweet butter… These are an entry for the episode of Monthly Mingle that you are hosting Aparna. No eggs is just how I know you’ll love these. I even substituted the egg yolk wash for a glaze with milk to make them a 100% vegetarian! This was a fun recipe, and the resultant swirls were delicious eaten warm with tea. Big hit with the hub & kids too. I sliced 15 portions as against the 10 in the original recipe as one of the reviewers said that the portions were big. I stored the leftovers in the fridge, and the daughter devoured them back from her camping trip. I was told they tasted good cold too!
Fruity Apple Spiced Swirls
Adapted from this recipe at BBC Good Food
Ingredients:
2 tsp pie spice
3 tbsp demerara sugar
4 tbsp soft butter
1 eating apple , peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried black grapes
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
350g flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g cold butter , cut into cubes
4 tbsp demerera sugar
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk, to glaze

Method:


Toss chopped apple in lime juice & add raisins, black grapes & walnuts.
Beat 1 tsp pie spice and 2 tbsp demerara into the butter, then stir in the apple and raisins.
Mix the remaining spices in with the flour.
Put the flour mixture, 1 tsp pie spice, salt and baking powder into a food processor, then whizz in the butter until it disappears. Pulse in the sugar, tip into a large bowl, then make a well in the middle. Warm the yogurt, milk and vanilla together in the microwave for 1 min or in a pan; it should be hot and may well go a bit lumpy-looking. Tip into the bowl and quickly work into the flour mix using a cutlery knife. As soon as it’s all in, stop.Put a flat baking sheet in the oven at 220C. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, then roll to about 40 x 30cm. Spread with the fruity butter, then roll up from the long side, tucking the ends over neatly. Cut into 1″ slices. Brush with milk and scatter with 1 tbsp demerara. Flour the baking sheet, then bake for 14 mins until golden and risen.

Eat warm, with more butter if you dare. (We didn’t!)

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

As I wrap up, I’d like to thank 2morrowknight for the including my name is his list of 10 top foodies tweeters in his article on The Huffington Post here10 World Class Chefs on Twitter Who Make it Sizzle. Thank you!!

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY REFRIGERATOR CHEESECAKE…No Bake No Eggs

“There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now”
Anonymous

There’s a new book out there, & it sounds good … Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe. It’s aimed at shrinking your ‘cookprint’ (new interesting word for me), & offers daily strategies for ‘lower impact living’. To quote the author, “How we cook is as important as what we cook. Fortunately, the kitchen is the place where you can make real green choices, and take direct control of your impact—through passive and active cooking strategies, water conservation tips, and low-carbon choices for cookware, appliances, foods, dining, and more. Save money and time, too, just by rethinking how you cook and eat. Cooking Green is like having a personal eco-consultant at your side whenever you cook, shop or eat. You’ll discover how to prepare favorite meals using less fuel and water, and make greener choices along the entire food chain, from field to market to home. The goal: lower your impact, and shrink your cookprint. Topics cover cookware from skillets to pressure cookers, appliances small and large, buying options from organics to packaging, and strategies that stretch from water heater to kitchen sink.”
This eggless no-bake cheesecake was delicious, but more importantly, gained brownie points due to a lower cookprint & use of yogurt in the form of curd cheese. It also gave me a chance to combine 2 good things in life … chocolate & strawberries. We’ve bid adieu to strawberries this season, & this is one the last few things I tried while I could lay my hands on some good fresh ones.

I receive numerous mails from readers of my blog looking for ‘eggless cakes’. A large portion of people in India are vegetarian / ‘no egg’ eaters, some on certain days of the week, some for a short period of time, & some others for life. I’m not a huge ‘egg in food’ person myself, & prefer my ice-creams, pastas, bread eggless etc, but have come a long way in learning that the problem lies more in my mind than on the plate. I have no reservations about using eggs , but sometimes would choose a panna cotta over a bake which has eggs. Strange…hmmmm.Baking & eggs do go hand in hand … what do eggs do?
Eggs, as well as flour, are the structural ingredients in baking. Eggs provide leavening; add color, texture, flavor and richness to the batter. They are very important in helping to bind all the other ingredients together. Beaten eggs are a leavening agent as they incorporate air into the batter, which will expand in the oven and cause the cake to rise. Some cakes use beaten eggs as their only source of leavening. Eggs are also used as a thickener in custards and creams, and to glaze pastries and breads. Egg whites are used to make meringues.
Yet, ‘no bake & no eggs’ make good friends at times. Learnt that in this Strawberry Refrigerator Cheesecake I did earlier. This time it had to be chocolate. I had hung curd cheese in the fridge, & wanted to make something with chocolate this time around. There was frozen yogurt in the freezer, so frozen chocolate yogurt would have to wait for another day, though is entirely a possibility in the experimental days to come. Of course when I lay down at night, the mind kept thinking, & this is what I attempted the next morning. I had initially planned individual desserts, but lack of time forced me to make a single cheesecake with curd cheese. It came out beautifully…smooth, rich & delicious! For the biscuit base, I used some left-over Brown Sugar Shortbread I had iced earlier in the week for Easter. I had made about a dozen round cookies to use as a base for individual desserts, but a rapid change of plans made me crush them. Feel free to use graham crackers or digestives if you like.

CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY REFRIGERATOR CHEESECAKE (Eggless)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups curd cheese (made with curd hung overnight to remove all whey)
400ml low fat cream (We get a 25% fresh cream/Amul here)
200gms dark chocolate
50 gms white coocolate (optional)
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (or plain)
1 1/2 tbsps gelatin
1/3 cup milk; cold
Biscuit crust
200gms brown sugar shortbread cookies; crushed (or gingersnaps/digestives etc)
75gms melted butter
Method:
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold milk & leave over a bowl of warm water till clear & melted.
  • Melt the dark chocolate & loosen it with 100ml cream. Microwave for 20-25 seconds to blend well if need be. Leave to cool.
  • Whisk the remaining cream  {minus 2 tbsp  to soft peaks}.
  • Whisk the curd cheese & sugar in the processor till smooth. Add the melted dark chocolate ganache & whisk till well blended. Then add the gelatin mixture & blend again. Fold in the whipped cream. Adjust sweetness if required.
  • Melt the white chocolate with 2 tbsps cream, & stir until smooth.
  • Hull & halve about 10 strawberries for the sides if you like, reserved 3-4 for topping, & hull, chop the rest.
  • Line a 7″ spring from tin with baking parchment on the bottom & sides. Stand the halved strawberries all around, tip facing downwards & drizzle some white chocolate around the circumference to hold them in place. (You can omit this if you are short on time).
  • Scatter the chopped strawberries on the bottom of the tin. Pour the chocolate mixture gently over this, careful that the standing strawberries don’t get shifted. I have just an 8″ springform tin, so I used a ring in the centre to get a decent height to my cake.
  • Set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, check to see that the top is slightly firm. Mix the melted butter into the breadcrumbs, & tbsp by tbsp spread gently but quickly over the top to form a uniform crust. You need to this a little quick as the butter will begin to set in contact with the chilled cheesecake. Allow to set a further 4 hours or overnight.
  • Invert onto a dessert plate, garnish the top & serve chilled slices!
This is also my entry for Monthly Mingle #32 @ What’s For Lunch Honey, where the lovely Meeta is calling for fruity Spring Cakes. Our Spring is done with here in India, but this fruity cake is all yours Meeta…

 

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