Del Monte

“The cuisine of a country is the only exact attestation of its civilization.”
Author Unknown

Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing 1 800Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. Stirring memories.

My one and only trip to mainland Europe was to Milan and that too decades ago. The UK has it’s own charm, but Europe is a different story altogether. The husband often carried back tales of Germany, Netherlands and France yet I get a first hand feel as I couldn’t connect very well. It took the recent trip to Switzerland to change my whole perspective on Europe, how culturally and historically rich it is. You also get a taste of local cuisine. It makes the heart sing out loud when you see the pride they take in stirring up and serving local cuisine, each platter served in style, laced with culinary history. As you cross regions, the stories of food change, the influences are varied, French, German, East European, maybe more.

Swiss cuisineI got back and possibly the first thing I dabbled was was this char-grilled tomato gazpacho, one which is found right across the country. In temperatures ready to sizzle Europe, this Spanish chilled soup is popular across menus in Switzerland. A tomato gazpacho, spinach, cucumber, peach too where they get a little experimental. It’s chilled, it’s bursting with flavour and possibly the most welcome bowl to douse the heat wave!Vine tomatoes with LFP

Gazpacho The Swiss love food and they love life. Local produce rules the roost, and it is heartening to visit a country that celebrates seasonal and local produce practically on every platter. Fruit in bakes, sweet and savoury, greens that are to die for, micro greens just in case you need an additional excuse. Cheese in every avatar, eat as much as you like! If there’s one thing I picked out, it’s there love for salads. Fresh, crisp, from farm to table. SwitzerlandSalad bars are standard at sit down restaurants. Pick and choose what you like, and then drizzle {or drench} with either French or Italian salad dressing. I love the generous servings of dressing that stand alongside, lashings that take the salad up a lot many notches.It’s travels like this that inspire you to stir up something special, maybe something different.Sydney 2015 The trip to Sydney this summer had the teen in love with a good Caesar salad. I soon played around with ingredients for the dressing as that’s what a good salad needs IMHO. The rest I can manage, a little painstakingly in summer of course. So I came up with this dressing, which is like a cross between a Ranch and Caesar, no anchovies in here, yet nice and creamy and zesty. I’ll call it a Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. It’s nice because it’s easy to whiz up, the trusted Hamilton Beach blender being the workhouse through my experiments.Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing I really should also be making my own mayonnaise, though always have an eggless one in the fridge! Del Monte does a really nice one. Just makes life easier on days when you are short on time. Using just locally available ingredients, this is a nice salad dressing to have in the fridge to perk up the most mundane of salads. Adjust the zinginess as you like, increase or decrease the garlic according to your palette, skip the cheese spread to go light. This is your dressing. Do it your way!


Recipe: Homemade Ranch Dressing your picture

Summary: Zesty, creamy and lighter than a Caesar dressing, this is a handy salad dressing to have in the fridge. Play around with the ingredients as you go along, customise it to your taste buds. You might never go back to a store bought one again.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 1/4 cup Del Monte eggless mayonnaise {or homemade}
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk {chaach Amul/Mother Dairy}
  • 1/8 cup cheese spread
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cheese spread
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Place everything in jar of blender and blend until smooth. taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a clean jar/bottle, refrigerate.
  3. Keeps 4-5 days.


Once this is done and in the fridge, then the rest of the Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing is usually a breeze. Summer is a pain for fresh produce here, everything wilts so fast. So I threw together a quick summer chicken pasta salad, inspired by a Caesar.Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingIt’s a meal in a bowl, and quite balanced too. I’ve kept the carbs to a minimum, a generous dose of greens {iceberg is all I find locally these days} and a handful of roasted walnuts. On other days, you could find some sliced avocado, tomatoes, feta, pine nuts and rocket in there. Do remember to add the croutons just before serving so they stay nice and crisp.Char-grille Tomato GazpachoOh, and you could always serve a chilled tomato gazpacho on the side, making it a more filling meal!

[print_this]Recipe: Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingDressing
your picture

Summary: A nice summery Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing which can be made ahead. Toss together and serve immediately in winter. It’s a meal in a bowl, and adaptable to taste. Use the best seasonal greens, preferably home grown or organic

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 2 oat crusted and shallow fried or baked chicken fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, chopped
  • 75g Del Monte macaroni, cooked al dente
  • 50g walnuts, roasted, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, julienne {optional}
  • 1 cup salad greens if in season {I had none}
  • 1/2 cup home made buttermilk salad dressing {recipe above}
  • handful fresh basil
  • Parmesan
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, cubed


  1. Place bread in air fryer and fry for 15 minutes on 160 until light brown and crisp. {Alternatively bake in oven}
  2. Place all ingredients other than bread, dressing, basil and Parmesan in a big bowl. Toss gently to mix, then pour over dressing as required and mix again.
  3. Just before serving toss in crisp bread cubes. Garnish with fresh basil, sprinkle over Parmesan. serve immediately.


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

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Lime & Strawberry Cream CakeLime & Strawberry Cream Cake … a very simple cake made in the Philips AirFryer a few days ago. 15 minutes was all I could manage that day. There have been no desserts of late and the kids were beginning to make strange unhappy sounds. There’s been barely any ‘free time’ what with final exams on for both teens which are well underway. The cake came out surprisingly nice. Lime & Strawberry Cream CakeDidn’t take pictures of it once made as it was slightly domed and I didn’t have time to pretty it up. One bite down and I thought it was really nice. Lime and strawberries pair well. The second round of the strawberry season has finally begun here in North India. Can’t have too much of this delicious fruit.

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The sponge was soft but not moist as always because I whisked in the flour instead of folding it in G E N T L Y. So I didn’t get a ‘light as air’ sponge. Still it was quite soft. Interesting!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The easiest way to get cake moist is to give it a good soaking with a simple sugar syrup. Love doing that when I make my pineapple cream cake. If you are doing a black forest cake, you can always reduce the syrup the cherries are canned in, and add a dash of Kirsch or lime juice to it to moisten the sponge.

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake I thought the Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake was nice enough to share, a quick easy cake, make ahead, light and delicious. A slice was hidden away for a picture opportunity while the rest of the cake was devoured by the happy family. Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake Then late that evening the bell rang. It was the courier with the Samsung Netbook that I had won at the Del Monte recipe contest hosted at Indiblogger.  My entry was the Tropical Cream Pie. Much excitement followed and we found a candy pink gizmo. Even though I’m not a pink person, the netbook is really pretty and very handy! I ♥ it!!

Seems to be an early Christmas over and over again. I am feeling quite pampered … maybe too pampered! First the Philips AirFryer, then Finla spoilt me silly, next Mr PAB got me a Samsung S3. My sister sent me more stuff as her better half was visiting … and just when I thought I had everything and more I could ever ask for, PINK came into my life!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake December’s here already. A clutch of days to fly through, a year that’s been packed to the gills. So much happening in this foodie world. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised with some fabulous tea from a beautiful tea company in China. Yes China! And yes tea! Teavirve Blurberry TeaIt’s funny because I am a 100% coffee addict and never drink tea. My first foray into tea was at the Aussie MasterChefs breakfast meet where Sangeeta talked me into sipping some lavender tea. It was wonderful. Then she got me some beautiful green tea from Darjeeling from a recent visit. Teavirve TeaThis herbal and green tea from Teavirve was a nice coincidence. In the bag were samples for green tea, and for Blueberry Fruit Tea and Apple Awakening Fruit Tea. The green tea was similar to others that I have recently sampled, but it was the Blueberry Fruit Tea that was amazing, and stole my heart. Beautiful aromas and subtle flavours of blueberry, black currant, roselle and grapes. The teen is in love with this tea!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The Apple Awakening Fruit Tea is really refreshing too … teasing the palette with an intriguing combination of apple and lemon.  With such an extensive selection which can be shipped across the world, Teavirve is a great gifting option. Green, white, black, Oolong, Pu-erh, herbal, fruit, ice, organic, flavoured … the variety is endless.Teavirve Blurberry TeaTo make the range complete, Teavirve offer a stunning range of teaware too. {They offers worldwide free shipping for orders over $30 … you should check out there collection.}

[print_this]Recipe: Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake your picture

Summary: An almost fatless sponge cake layered with a whipped raspberry cream with strawberries within … light, moist, flavourful and gone quick!

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 1 hour Ingredients:

  • Sponge Cake
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g raw sugar {or powdered sugar}
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2tsp extra virign olive oil
  • 1tbsp 2% milk
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • zest of 1 lime
  • Simple sugar syrup
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Juive 1 1 lime
  • Raspberry Cream
  • 300g low fat cream, chilled
  • 3-4 tbsp raw sugar {increase if required}
  • 80g Del Monte rapberry fruit filling {chilled, from feezer}
  • 250g strawberries, chopped, some saved for topping


  1. Sponge
  2. Preheat oven if using to 180C. If using the AirFryer, you can preheat it to 160C just before you begin folding the flour mix in as it requires only 5 minutes to preheat. 
  3. Line the base and sides of a 7″ round cake tin with baking parchment. {Please check first if the tin fits into the AirFryer}
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Reserve.
  5. Beat the eggs with raw/powdered sugar, pure vanilla extract and lemon extract in a big bowl over a pan of simmering water until tripled in volume and mousse like, about 7 minutes. {Thermomix: Butterfly insert, Speed 4, 37c, 7 minutes}
  6. Preheat the AirFryer to 160C at this time …
  7. Gently add the flour mix and fold through, followed by the olive oil and milk.
  8. Transfer batter to prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes in conventional oven, OR 15 minutes in the AirFryer until light golden brown
  9. Cool in tin for 5 minutes, and demold and cool completely on cooling rack.
  10. Raspberry Cream
  11. Whip cream with sugar until medium peaks form. Add the fruit filling and whip again until smooth and firm. Taste & adjust sugar if required. The cream will be thick enough to spread.
  12. Assemble
  13. Slice cake into 2 horizontal layers. If the top is slightly domed, you might like to level it. {Reserve the trimmings and run in processor to make cake crumbs. I left mine domed}
  14. Moisten both the layers with the simple sugar syrup.
  15. Sandwich with about 1/3rd of the whipped cream. Scatter the chopped strawberries uniformly and top with second layer.
  16. Frost the sides and top with the remaining cream. Top with quartered strawberries. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes for the flavours to mature {chill in the fridge if the weather is warm, else leave on counter}


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

“A little too much chocolate is just about right.”

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake  “Happy December”! Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake … a cake as delicious as it sounds. There comes a time when you heed a certain call, and you succumb to the temptation of dark chocolate all over again! Pair chocolate with berries … cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and there are good times ahead! Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake This was yet another cake that just happened on the go. The culprit as always – too much to do, too little time. Thankfully chocolate is something that hardly ever lets you down. Use dark chocolate, and you can kiss ‘hardly‘ goodbye. Dark chocolate always delivers! This Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake was for my Mums birthday a few days ago. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake I hit a ‘cake block‘ and decided to bake out of the Chocolate Bible by Le Cordon Blue. Quick check of star rating and Sachertorte was the saviour! I had all the ingredients in the pantry, even apricot jam. I also had 4 egg whites in the fridge trying to gracefully age for macarons. The macarons would have to wait!Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream CakeBaking the cake was a breeze.What bothered me though was that cake was flat-tish as the tin I used was bigger than the specified one. That I didn’t like! By the time I was done with driver duties, doing lunch {hail the AirFryer and chicken tikkas} etc, there was no time to look at the book. All I knew was that I wanted a layer of filling to give the cake some height.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream CakeDark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake A Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake ‘happened’. It was sublime! Dark, deep, divine, luscious chocolate, a beautiful raspberry cream filling to go with it, and a ganache like velvet … smooth, dark, rich! Of late, I have begun posting recipes based on weight and not cup measures; an attempt to standardise recipes . I have something for you today dear readers.Zansaar giveaway on Passionate About Baking

I am glad to offer my readers in India a Retro Kitchen Electronic Scale with a Retro Kitchen Worktop Saver from the beautiful online site Zansaar. I have partnered with them to bring you the above from their exclusive Vintage Pantry collection. A bold and lively interplay of black and white to lighten up those kitchen chores …


Have you been to Zansaar? Zansaar means ‘world’. I love the colour and vibrancy this online destination offers . The selection is vast – vintage, quirky, vibrant, colourful, retro. It’s a one stop shop for all things food, home and garden. Whether it is black and white that grabs your fancy, or a splash of vibrant  yellows, you’ll find something here.

Passionate About Baking Zansaar Giveaway

So dear readers, if you’d like to win this beautiful retro scale and worktop saver from Zansaar, please leave a comment saying which product from Zansaar  catches your eye.

This giveaway is open to Indian residents, or anyone with an Indian postal address. You can enter if you don’t have a blog too. Please make sure you leave a contact {else mail it to me at vindee {at} airtelmail {dot} in}.

The giveaway closes on the 15th of December. 

To increase chances of winning you could do any of the following. Please leave an additional comment for each of the following:

1. “Like” PAB on Facebook.

2. “Like” Zansaar on Facebook.

3. Follow @vindee on Twitter and tweet the following : Win a @zansaar giveaway from @vindee http://bit.ly/bowerybag #giveaway #zansaar

4. Follow on Zansaar on Twitter.

[print_this]Recipe: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cake
your picture

Summary: Dark, deep, divine, luscious chocolate, a beautiful raspberry cream filling to go with it, and a ganache like velvet … smooth, dark, rich! A torte fit for celebration!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Sponge {minimally adapted from the Le Cordon Blue, Chocolate Bible}
  • 180g dark chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 7 egg whites
  • 80g raw sugar {or castor sugar}
  • 40g plain flour, sifted
  • 20g ground almonds, sifted
  • Kirsch Syrup
  • 150ml water
  • 100g raw sugar {or Castor sugar}
  • 1 tbsp Kirsch
  • Ganache
  • 175g dark chocolate {54% couverture}, chopped
  • 200ml low fat cream
  • Filling
  • 200ml low fat cream, chilled
  • 30g raw sugar {or powdered sugar}
  • 75g Del Monte raspberry fruit filling {frozen}
  • Dark chocolate flakes for garnishing


  1. Sponge
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 22cm round baking tin with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl in the microwave, 1 minute {or over a bain marie}}. Whisk until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with 25g of sugar until soft peaks, adding the remaining sugar a little at a time, until stiff peaks form.
  5. Incorporate the 3 egg yolks, flour and almond meal.
  6. Fold in the melted chocolate-butter mixture.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes until the top of the sponge is springy to touch.
  8. Cool before turning out. Slice into two.
  9. Kirsch syrup
  10. Place the water and sugar in a pan over simmer and stil until the sugar has melted. Cool and add Kirsch. Reserve.
  11. Ganache
  12. Place chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny. It will thicken as it cools.
  13. Filling
  14. Beat the low fat cream with sugar until medium peaks. Add the cold raspberry filling and beat until firm.
  15. Assemble
  16. Place one layer of cake on the serving platter and brush generously with the Kirsch syrup.
  17. Top with the raspberry cream filling and spread evenly.
  18. Brush the underside of the second layer with Kirsch syrup and place over the raspberry cream.
  19. Brush the top of cake with Kirsch syrup.
  20. Even out top of cake with some ganache {in case it has a sunken look, mine did}, and give the whole cake a thin layer of ganache. Chill for 10 minutes.
  21. Cover the top and sides with remaining ganache, making tiny peaks with an offset spatula or butter knife.
  22. Top with dark chocolate flakes. Let stand for about an hour or a few hours for the favours to mature. {Since it’s winter here, 15C, I let the cake stand on the kitchen counter for 5 hours}


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

%d bloggers like this: