Product Review | Smoothies & Coolers … summer is here. #CreateFearlessly with the Hamilton Beach Multiblender

“You become about as exciting as your food blender. The kids come in, look you in the eye, and ask if anybody’s home.”
Erma Bombeck

#‎CreateFearlessly‬ ... with Hamilton Beach India & BlogAdda @ PABThe first words that grabbed my attention as I received the box were ‘Good Thinking‘…and that spiked my curiosity. Raised my expectations too! I’d heard great reviews about the Hamilton Beach line of products, and I have to say I am not disappointed. After a couple of mix ups and delays that are best left forgotten, the Hamilton Beach MultiBlend Blender and Chopper finally landed up on my doorstep, part of the #CreateFearlessly initiative, an association between Hamilton Beach India and BlogAdda.

#CreateFearlessly Starwberry Kiwi SmoothieI was quite pleased to be at the receiving end. A good quality kitchen appliance makes me want to sing out loud. With summer here in full force, or rather full steam ahead, an efficient hard working blender is more than welcome. So is a very happy kid who stepped out of my shadow and now wants to blend everything in sight, especially strawberries! That I am having a blast with it is an understatement.

Strawberries‘This is so easy and fun”, he declares, tossing in his once favourite fruit salad into the blender, pours in a glug of lychee juice and WHIRS it off! Withing minutes he sips from a tall glass … “It’s delicious! Made it myself! Can I do this everyday?”

#CreateFearlessly Starwberry Kiwi Smoothie 2Between frozen strawberries, fresh kiwi and orange tang, and fresh strawberries, fresh kiwi and lychee juice, he’s become quite a pro. The old Osterizer had kept me company for many years, but didn’t have such a ‘crowd appeal’! It was time for change, and this change is the best one!  A friend inboxed me the other day on FB asking for a recommendation for a blender for smoothies, juices etc. I have the Thermomix which is my first love, but cost is an issue there.

#CreateFearlessly with Hamilton Beach & BlogAdda @PABThe Hamilton Beach Multiblender gets my vote. I love the feel, and I love the design. The colours are all me. Standing tall in black with stainless steel accents, it’s got a much lighter body that I imagined. The spout for drip free pouring is fantastic. Very sturdy too, what with a 1.4ltr BPA Free shatterproof Tritan jar. Easy clean up as well. With 12 blending functions, it’s perfect for smoothies, purees, chopping and grinding … and a lot more.

One of the first things I made for ‘me‘ was a summer favourite, buttermilk lassi {video above}. It is savoury, it is garlicky and it is most delicious. Into it go things I like love. Bunches of fresh curry patta plucked straight off the tree in the backyard. Fresh spring sprigs are giving way to more mature young leaves, and they taste delightful. Also thrown in green chilies {as many as you can handle}, loads of garlic {or ginger if that is your call}, Himalayan pink salt, a dash of aesofoetida {hing}… and the blend begins.

savoury buttermilk lassiMy lassi is best slightly chunky, but you can process it more at a higher speed to get it smooth as silk! Customise it to your palette. Add a cucumber, maybe a dash of lime juice. You can even give it a sizzling tadka! Then more blending happened. Between sweet, malty cheeku/sapota milk shakes nostalgic of trips into Old Delhi, and mango yogurt strawberry shakes, we’ve been having quite a smooth time of late.

#CreateFearlessly Chikoo shake Did I forget the apple, cucumber, celery smoothie this morning? Yes that too happened. Did you hear #CreateFearlessly? Throw everything into the blender, throw caution to the wind, blend and drink up. I am currently catching up on fibre, with some yumminess thrown in. I can see some deep, delicious cold coffee creeping in some time soon.

Apple, cucumber, celery smoothie 2Next on my list to experiment with is a go at the chopper that comes with the blender. That’s a neat separate attachment, and I cannot wait to use it. Until then, have a smoothie good time. If you are looking for a blender that stands tall, is efficient, light and means business, then look no further. The Hamilton Beach Multiblender seems kid friendly too. The only thing missing was an inspiring colorful recipe book, but then again smoothies and shakes are no brainers. Time to #CreateFearlessly, think out of the box and enjoy blending magic in your kitchen.

What is your favourite ‘creation’ in a blender? I’d love to try it!

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | GF Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake … #glutenfree by default #quark #dessert

“Reminiscent of childhood memories, luxury, sweetness and sensuality, chocolate is more than just a food. It is therapy.”
Christelle Le Ru

Dark Chocolate Quark CheesecakeGF Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake … some recipes are just meant to be, and this is one of them. Come summer and quark is constantly being prepped at home. There is never a definite plan for where it goes, yet the fact that I am ‘creating’ a low fat unripened cheese is enough to keep me happy. This tangy cheese finds its way into just about anything. And this something was truly delicious!

Quark dessertsIt’s QUARK all the way! A layered parfait, savoury or sweet, in a curry instead of yogurt, while cooking chicken as a filling for wraps, turnovers like in these Chicken Quark Cross-over Puff Pastry, in frozen yogurt instead of yogurt … or then in cheesecakes of course! That this cheesecake turned out to be gluten free as well is purely incidental …but more about that in a bit!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  There is something infinitely comforting in turning all the ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and celebrating that the filling is ‘ready’ to go into the oven. Simple! Yes that simple, but then cheesecakes usually are. The tough part is waiting for them to cool down, and leaving them sitting in the fridge overnight. The toughest bit however is when you experiment, it takes forever to figure out whether it worked, or didn’t. This one certainly was a YES! Best chocolate cheesecake ever!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  A few cheesecake basics you might like to keep in mind… Try and bake the cheesecake in a water bath so it cooks evenly and the top doesn’t crack. Prebake the biscuit base especially if you are doing a quark version as the filling is moister than when using a cream cheese. If doing a biscuit base, it’s a nice idea to paint the prebaked base with a brush of melted dark chocolate; keeps the base from going soggy. Make sure the quark is well drained for a full day or two. Above all, use the best quality ingredients. A good dark couverture makes this cheesecake really sing!

Quite a while ago I did these Mini Quark Chocolate Cheesecakes which popped up thanks to Google while I was looking for quark inspiration. Inspired by myself {if I may say so myself}, it was time to bake a dark chocolate quark cheesecake. I had the base ready! Well actually, I had a baking disaster whereby my almond sponge flowed inexplicably out of my baking tin. I think the tin was too small and I was left with a 3/4 sponge to salvage. The idea in my head was trifles with quark and strawberries, and Googling led me ‘you know where‘!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  Within minutes, the hapless sponge was blitzed into breadcrumbs in the Thermomix, then rapidly pressed into the baking tin to cushion a base for the cheesecake. You can gauge how much I enjoyed doing this GF Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake! It was the fastest cheesecake I have ever bunged into an oven! I have included a biscuit base recipe below as the coincidence of you having a failed sponge on your hands might be too much to ask for.

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  But if you are up to it, adventurous enough, a sucker for punishment like me AND/OR looking for a gluten free version, then I’ve included the recipe for an almond sponge too. It’s one I use often, here for eg in the Strawberry Almond Roulade. I swopped the Swiss roll pan for a tin, subsequently suffering defeat.

Upcycled Blondie PuddingUpcycling failed desserts {as above} is fun, and one small shove from Ruchira fixed me for life. Upcycle everything that fails is my only thought when I end up with a baking disaster. Eton Mess is a fine example and one that appeared several times as dessert when making macarons was an obsession. Just recently, when an over baked batch of blondies stared me in the face, they headed for the most delicious ‘Upcycled’ Butterscotch Blondie Pudding!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  And another piece of happiness … this beautiful ceramic platter that Ruchira got for me recently. It has me absolutely smitten, a new addition to my endless props. That it is round and scalloped, that it is a beautiful shade of blue, that it has tiny dots like a running stitch on the edges, and that it is flat works for me like magic! That she bought it from here in India also makes me thrilled. Wholegrain Anzac Cookies I have a few other bits and bobs of ceramic that tie up with it, so while I enjoy my ever growing {read exploding} prop collection,  I’ll leave you with a recipe that I am sure you will enjoy.Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  I topped the Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake with tiny grated chocolate curls. You could also consider  topping it with unsweetened cream and balsamic roasted strawberries, maybe a salted caramel sauce. My homemade recipe for quark can be found here! Also, find more recipes that use quark on my blog.

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

No Bake | Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta … coastal flavours from friends #dessert #giftthanks #kokum

“I’m not a vegetarian! I’m a dessertarian!”
Bill Watterson

Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta … as if the Italian version of the panna cotta wasn’t delicious enough, the coconut milk version is glass scraping good too. So when the very sweet Ajit posted about a kokum cooler on FB, I was instantly on his case. “Want Want Want”, I said {read pleaded}. The fine, ever obliging and efficient man that he is, ensured that I had a ‘kokum’ package in my hands a few days later. It was a 100 watt smile on my face I tell you!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India 26

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Ever since we had the sol kadi {top left corner, and just above} at Baramati on the wine fam trip to Four Seasons Winery a couple of years ago,  kokum has had me smitten. Must be a taste bud thingy. I might bake and make a load of sweet stuff, but my heart belongs to savoury. Piquant, tangy, sharp, citric … flavours that make my mouth water. Add garlic, astoefetida, sumac, phalsa berries, raw tamarind to the list and you just might hear my heart sing out loud.Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Kokum or Garcinia Indica  is indigenous to the Western Ghats region of India located along the western coast of the country. It is used as a staple souring agent typically in Goan cuisine and some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Kokum yields a peculiar flavour and blackish red colour. It is a preferred substitute for tamarind in curries and other dishes from the Goa and Konkan region.

So you can imagine my happiness when the package with kokum arrived. With it, a sweet hand written note from the A of A & N, a blog that I first connected with several years ago. At the time A & N were in the US, and regaled their audience with tales of getting flood waters in their home, food and a lot more. The they came back to India, and we reconnected. A and me exchanged notes over ingredients, oohed and aahed over experiments with 100% whole wheat bread, and a lot more…

Whole Wheat BreadThe N of course is the sweetest thing to walk the earth… joyful, exuberant and uber talented. She works with of my most fave online furniture stores Urban Ladder. Anyway, to cut a long story short, A in his note said “I’m sure you’ll work your magic and turn it into something wonderful. Looking forward!” The pressure that didn’t allow me to make just a simple cooler. I wanted to make something to embrace sweet & savoury for summer….

Kokum Coconut Milk Panna CottaI knew it was panna cotta. To tie in the coastal flavours from where kokum is born, it was going to be a coconut milk panna cotta. Vanilla bean because I love it so, and it flavours the panna cotta gently.  More flavours because I have bunches of lemon grass growing outside, and a box of kaffir lime leaves in my freeze. The pairing was beautiful. The basic panna cotta pairs well with most fruit …. so think strawberries, cherries, blueberries, mango, blackberries…

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India