Feature & Giveaway | My Favourite Chef {s} … and a holiday giveaway #myfavouritechef #inspiration #giveaway #flipkart

“Do something you love and people will love you for it.”
Maneet Chauhan

Your favourite chef’twas a great way to begin Monday morning. I almost fell off my twitter perch to see that Alice Medrich had followed me. She was one of my first baking inspirations. The author of  an array of sinfully delicious cookbooks like Pure Dessert, Seriously Bitter Sweet, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and of course Bittersweet {among many others}, never fails to amaze. Chocolate dessert chef, teacher, James Beard and IACP Cookbook of the Year Award winning author … one of my favourite dessert chefs!

Bittersweet Fallen Chocolate Gateau My first window into her world was way back in 2008 when I was inspired to make her Olive Oil Orange Cake. The inspiration continues … Dark Chocolate, Craisin & Walnut scones, Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies, and one of our all time favourites, the Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Fallen Cake.

Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiTalking of chefs, more specifically favourite chefs, I have a few more quite a few more on my list. These I have been fortunate enough to meet, they are large hearted, affable, poster boy chefs who are some of the nicest human beings I have met. Saby or Chef Sabyasachi Gorai was among the first I met in Delhi. He’s the sweetest ever. A chef who is a painter? Yes indeed!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi A chef with the midas touch as I always tell him. Down to earth, hugely talented, young, bursting with energy and ideas. As I write this, Saby is in Goa launching his first restaurant  there today, Destination One!

Cook For A Smile with Chef Vikas KhannaNext on my list is one of my favourite chefs, Michelin star Chef Vikas Khanna. Down to earth, a crowd pleaser, uber talented, works 28 hours a day, feet firmly on the ground, bursting with stories not necessarily food related, passionate about India, passionate about America … words escape me.

Fullscreen capture 29-09-2014 201138

Saffola Fit Foodie with Vikas KhannaWe worked together on the Saffola Food Food TV series {episode 1 & episode 2}. All of us were blown away by his friendly nature, unfussy attitude and his side splitting humour. From Amritsar to America, he is possibly India’s best and most loved export to the west. .

Breakfast at Olive with the MasterchefsMore favourites … Aussie Masterchefs George and Gary who we had a chance to meet over breakfast when they were here, the heart of gold Chef Kunal Kapoor, the absolutely animated and entertaining Chef Vicky Ratnani, the sweet Chef Maurizio Raselli at the Hyatt…

Chai Bar, Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon …quiet and unassuming Chef Anahita at Soda Bottle Openerwala {restaurant pictured above}, the ever charming David RoccoChef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi 4… I could go on forever but instead will leave you with a question and a holiday giveaway.

Who is the one chef that has left their impression on you? Who is your favourite chef?

Since we’re just ringing in the holiday season here. Zoutons have been sweet enough to sponsor a giveaway for one of my readers.

The giveaway is a gift voucher worth INR4000 from Flipkart.zoutons-online-coupons

To be included in the giveaway, there are 2 simple rules:
1. Name your favourite chef
2. At the end of your comment, you must mention “For the contest on “My Favourite Chef” sponsored by Zoutons.com
  •  Please ensure you leave a valid email address.
  • The contest is open worldwide.
  • The contest closes on the 15th of October. We will randomly pick a winner thereafter.
 The contest winner is VJ Sharma . Congratulations. Please send me your email address so I can send you the coupon details.

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

Baking | One bowl cocoa wholewheat almond brownies … Alice Medrich {#urbandazzle}

“I am endlessly inspired and challenged by ingredients and flavors; the craft involved both in bringing them together and writing about the process.”
Alice Medrich

Cocoa wholewheat almond brownies Cocoa Wholewheat Almond Brownies are a sweet opening to October, plated on the  new Diwali/festival gift collection from Urban Dazzle. Baked out of desperation since I had no good quality baking chocolate on hand, the wholewheat brownies were good unbelievably good!! They are adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrichauthor, dessert chef, chocolatier.Cocoa wholewheat almond browniesAlice Medrich is an iconic baker who changed the way we looked at food, desserts, chocolate and baking of course. She’s written a series of  cookbooks, the latest one Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. Of the 9, Bittersweet and Pure Dessert are two of my favourites. Cocoa wholewheat almond browniesFood weaves a magical pattern. I baked an adaptation of her Orange & Olive Oil Cake in 2008. Some time later I made delicious  Dark Chocolate, Walnut & Craisin Scones from a recipe @ David Lebovitz , another hugely talented cookbook author, dessert maker, ice cream man, story teller. Turned out that recipe was an Alice inspired one too.Caramel cake and sconesIn late 2008, me, a very timid and shaky food blogger in far off North India, virtually met Alice via the Daring Bakers Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter Frosting. Her Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels was an optional part of the challenge. Those caramels didn’t happen as we were just back from a trip to Sydney where the daughter fell ill with jaundice, was hospitalised …. and what not! Yet, it was another intriguing window into the creative world of Alice Medrich.Did I just forget to mention the Pebbly Beach Fruit Square cookies pictured above? Adapted from her cookbook “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Cookies”, these are typical Alice style. Classic, comforting and high on taste. The fruit squares recipe is highly adaptable.Cocoa wholewheat almond brownies

Buono Decoration Plate Silver

So when I craved baking brownies and googled for a cocoa version, one of the first matches was a Medrich recipe. There was no looking further. I experimented with substitutions mainly because of the high-ish butter content. Using just whole wheat flour and almond meal instead of plain flour, they turned out to be brownie heaven – deep, dark, chewy, moist! Importantly, one bowl cocoa wholewheat almond brownies; hand whisked and with minimal clean up! The bell rang while the brownies were cooling off, and it was the new festive Diwali range of products from Urban Dazzle. Seemed like an early Christmas as I got a staggering array of their recently launched festive ware which includes stunning stoneware, ceramics, porcelain and much more.Cocoa wholewheat almond browniesStoneware is right up my street and the colours and texture hold instant appeal, the quality excellent too!  The soothing blue stoneware platter above with a Mediterranean appeal; and cups, mugs, soup bowls all in pretty colours, stuff you can mix and match. The good thing is the almost inexhaustive choice. You feel like grabbing it all. And that’s the good part! If you love it, others will to.Cocoa wholewheat almond brownies Urban Dazzle is quite a dynamic online option. An e-venture based in New Delhi, they are constantly adding aesthetic, stylish and reasonable  kitchen accessories and home decor items. With Diwali around the corner, they promise to take some burden of gifting off your shoulders… though the extensive range promises to overwhelm you with what to choose & what not!You might like these stunning glasses, or a banquet footed platter, chic Borgonovo bottles, pot bellied  jugs and carafesthe variety is endless!A while ago someone inquired about these white ribbed fruit plates that I recently used for the Empanada Gallegas. I got mine all the way from Sydney two years ago. Imagine my surprise when I saw them on Urban Dazzle a few days ago! Raise a toast,  browse the topsellers, … or then just hit the ‘Sweet Spot’!

 

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


Baking| Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares … charming cookies for Mothers Day!

“If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.”
Erma Brombeck

Pebbly Beach Fruit SquaresHappy May! There was a time when as kids we would go around shrieking May Daaaaaay May Daaaaaay on the 1st of May, giggling stupidly at the SOS call. By the time history classes began, May Day was synonymous with Labour Day, where we studied labour relations, about the ILO etc,  and life began to get mundane. May’s here and the only thought that tears through my mind is ‘ALREADY?’ Are we really almost halfway through the year?Pebbly Beach Fruit SquaresLife has been a roller coaster ride of late which might sort of explain why I’ve been a bit slow to post. I’m seeing the beginnings of carpel tunnel and I think a tennis elbow, so am going slow on the computer. Never thought life could be so painful!  Other stressful situations are plenty too though made lighter by the likes of Erma Brombeck who I constantly turn to for comic relief.

“Kids have little computer bodies with disks that store information. They remember who had to do the dishes the last time you had spaghetti, who lost the knob off the Tv set six years ago, who got punished for teasing the dog when he wasn’t teasing the dog and who had to wear girls boots the last time it snowed.”, Erma Brombeck

Battling the teen and pre teen continue to pose ‘challenging‘ situations. I attended a wonderful parenting workshop at school. Importantly learnt that the brain largely consists of the frontal lobe or the office {The executive functions of the frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions}, override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events. Therefore, it is involved in higher mental functions}.

‘Most children’s first words are “Mama” or “Daddy.” Mine were, “Do I have to use my own money?”, Erma Brombeck

The other important part of the brain is the amygdala which performs a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions. As luck would have it, the little amygdala, which is highly developed in adolescents,  is apparently very reactive and irrational and packs a punch. I hear that the functional frontal will develop in teens only over the next few years! We’ve come to accept {read forced} that we are talking long-haul teen issues! Any of you in the same boat, dear readers?Pebbly Beach Fruit SquaresTo add to the drama, the pre-teen lad decided to carve wood with a Swiss knife while I was getting dinner ready 2 days ago. Did anyone hear an S.O.S.? It wasn’t long before we headed for the hospital at dinner time with him almost fainting with blood loss. 3 deep gashed since the wood took flight! Nothing that first aid couldn’t fix but just makes you believe that there is so much more you can do in a day! Exciting times! Next day in school he figured he could play ‘defence‘ in soccer and came back yesterday with a sprained ankle. Sigh…New born kittensWith trouble always comes some sunshine, and a stray has littered in our front yard for the second time. She’s given birth to the cutest little kittens. I asked Man Friday to hand them to me while the poor Mum was out foraging for grub. Here they are at 2 days old…cute precious ‘handul’! The Mum-cat of course growls, is grumpy and always looks exhausted! Mums out there – sound familiar? To all of you wonderful mothers reading this … a Happy Mothers Day for everything you do for your off springs!Pebbly Beach Fruit SquaresWhile my little world is being rocked, there are far greater things rocking the world. Who would have known about Abbotabad, a town founded by Major James Abbot, once in India, and now in Pakistan? The world is rid of its enemy number one, and the media uproar leaves even lesser time for blogging.

Source: British Library

I didn’t bake for 2-3 days, and yesterday the lad came home to say his friends in school opened his snack box and were disappointed that he didn’t ‘get something your mother made‘. I had given him store bought cookies! Time to get a hold on life, so it was back to baking. Yes bake I had to, and blogging happily follows!Pebbly Beach Fruit SquaresI saw these at Food Gal and they charmed the socks off my feet. I’m a HUGE fan of Alice Medrich. These squares reminded me of the good old days in the sweltering heat where we read books in shades of LARGE raintrees and tamarind trees, no fans, no air-conditioners, no frets, no worries. Just a well thumbed Enid Blyton borrowed from the neighbourhood library, devoured page by page as we greedily sucked at ice cubes in tall steel glasses of  home made lime juice.Pebbly Beach Fruit SquaresMaking the cookies was therapeutic and relaxing. Carolyn’s posts strike a connect with me. Her writing is engaging, evocative and often prods the memory to relive the days gone by. That connect is what I enjoy most about food and food blogs.  I made the first batch as squares. For the second lot, I use some leftover roasted balsamic strawberries {from this Eggless Chocolate Layered Cake & this Quarkauflauf}, rolled the dough into logs, chilled it and sliced the logs like pin wheel cookies. Both version were delicious, and would make great Mothers Day cookies.

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

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