No Bake |Smoothies galore … and the difference between a food processor and blender #smoothies #healthy #seasonal #freshproduce

“I have more healthy cravings than my normal eating habits, like I crave fruit and cold things like smoothies.”
Kourtney Kardashian

SmooothiesSmoothies … you gotta love them. As the years pass by, the head wins over the heart. You know that it’s easier to gulp down a smoothie than chew through a buncha green leaves! And you also know that however good or bad it tastes, a well balanced, seasonal smoothie is going to do you a load of good. Headed for SmoothiesIt’s pointless waiting for the new year to come and make resolutions, so I just got the ball rolling and made them before! Post the Jaipur trip, what with all the over the top indulgence and pampering, I had but one thing on my mind, get FIT!OatsI have begun taking tiny steps. I’m eating healthier, I’m not eating out a lot, fewer food reviews, some form of exercise … and of course smoothies. I’ve also been invited to join the Fit Foodie panel on Saffola, which just gives me more reason to work towards my goal! I’ve put together a small graphic to make things easier. Play around with these three groups {not an exhaustive list} , add some yogurt, milk, buttermilk, almond milk, fruit juice or maybe water as required. I also throw in  spoon or two of oats at times.Food groups for smoothiesDo you smoothie? Here’s a bunch of recipes to set you off if you want to join in. You can find some here too. I basically go through the fridge to find what I can use and pair. Smoothies I made three versions yesterday, and surprisingly enough the persimmon one was the best. The spinach, cuke and tender coconut water was nice too. The banana smoothie we have everyday, so that was quite normal, but normal good. Such fun. The processor is such a magic machine!

Persimmon smoothieThe processor is a blessing in disguise for soups too, though the immersion blender works really well in most cases. A while ago however someone asked me what the difference was between a food processor and blender. I have both in the kitchen, and it set me thinking. Thought I’d try and answer the query here just in case you had similar questions. Hope it helps…

Food processors and blenders, what are the differences between them?

If you only have a small kitchen then you may be wondering if you really need both a blender and a food processor. The fact is that although both gadgets have blades, and a reputation for dicing and slicing, they actually have quite different uses.
If you are going to be able to do all of the jobs you need to in a kitchen the chances are you are going to want to use a blender and a food processor at some point; especially if you regularly make smoothies or soups.
When does a blender come into its own?
The shape and blades of a blender are designed to cater for soft fruit and liquids. The name really says it all; these gadgets are excellent for blending ingredients into such delights as tasty smoothies. Depending on what fittings your blender has it may be able to cope with slicing ice for use in the smoothies; this can make them into an extra special treat on a hot summer day.
These tasty additions to any menu are a great way of getting fruit into a child’s diet. You can use the pulp produced when you are juicing to create imaginative and colorful smoothies that most children will love. The shape of a blender is slender and designed to accommodate soft and liquid products, and not usually more solid produce.
What about a food processor?
If you are using liquids then it’s a good idea to stick to using your blender, but for anything more solid you should switch to a food processor. Food processors have blades that are designed for chopping and slicing.
They also have a bowl that is larger and can accommodate more solid produce. If you have vegetables that you want to reduce in to small pieces to use in a soup then a food processor is the perfect gadget to use. It can cope with all sorts of vegetables and nuts, and in no time you will have all of the ingredients you need to make as much delicious soup as you want.
Which is the best to have, a blender or a food processor?
The answer to this question is really going to depend on what you need to do most. Is it more important to you to be able to blend together liquids, making drinks and smoothies; or is it more important to you to be able to slice vegetables for soups or stews?
It may be that you need to do both. There are blenders that have blades which provide a certain amount of chopping capacity, and food processors can deal with a very small amount of liquid, but generally if you want to be able to blend and chop you are going to have to make room in your kitchen for both a blender and a food processor.

Headed for smoothiesSo I guess it’s time to SMOOTHIE! Come join me. Grab a bunch of fresh seasonal produce, pair it with a medium you like, throw in some nuts, seeds, herbs and get going. Once you’re done, what’s next? Soup maybe?

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

No bake | Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse #vegetarian #fall #dessert #orange

“If it be not ripe, it will draw a man’s mouth awry, with much torment, but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as an apricot.”
Captain John Smith

Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse 1Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse … light, smooth, deep and delicious. The persimmon puree adds a pop of colour that welcomes fall with it’s bright orange like nothing else. OK maybe a papaya, but then the papaya lacks the translucent jelly like beauty of this special fruit.

A couple of years ago, we landed in Sydney on a cold night. I headed straight for the kitchen since I knew my sweet Ukrainian friend would always have something special waiting for me. I was duly rewarded… a line of persimmons sat neatly on her windowsill. It was instant fruit therapy, but they weren’t ripe, she pointed out. 

hachiya persimmonsCut to now. After waiting almost forever I gently inquired at my local fruit & vegetable vendor why persimmons, or Ramphal/Amarphal as they are locally referred to, weren’t showing up yet. You see Ruchira in Islamabad had already excitedly announced their foray, made a mousse and waxed eloquent about this delicious fruit.

Hachiya persimmonsI immediately developed persimmon withdrawal symptoms! Must have been my lucky day, because the guy at the shop came back two minutes later saying I should have asked for something else. He cranked open a fruit crate to uncover lines of persimmons, that too hachiyas, the variety I so love! They were all tickled pink that I asked for something and it popped out of the crate! I was chuffed!

hachiya persimmons Of course they were unripe. Very firm, very hard and barely a deep orange. Bite into a persimmon at this disastrous stage and you will be sorely {or surely} punished! It’s a strange fruit. When unripe it’s very edgy and astringent. Make the mistake, and you might never come back to it.

hachiya persimmonsBut allow them to sit out on the kitchen counter {or windowsill}; be patient, VERY PATIENT. Mine took almost 3 weeks to ripen. They will turn a bright, translucent orange, evenly coloured, with a few blackish spots; very soft to touch. The time is ripe to chill them and dig in, or just dig in if you can’t wait any longer! Sweet as honey and slippery like jelly, it’s an amazing fruit!

Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse 2I HAD to make something with the puree. Unfortunately, only one hachiya was completely ripe, the fingertips sinking right into the fruit when I gently pressed it. Some quick thinking later I decided to make a dark chocolate mousse {inspired by this two ingredient winning recipe by Hervé This}. Had to keep the dieting diva in mind as she is off on another hair brained dieting venture.

Dark Chocolat & Persimmon Mousse The chocolate had to be dark {as it’s good for dieting she announced as she readily nibbled away on my precious stash}. 85% dark Lindt it was, and then a tasting later I figured it could use some low fat cream and a dash of sugar. The Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse  is so rewarding to make, considering just a combination of chocolate and water can yield something so magical.

Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse I added a dash of Grand Marnier {very optional}. It gave very slight orange undertones, enhancing the taste of the mousse gently. I did add a small dash to the persimmon puree as well to tie the flavours in. Separated by a layer of unsweetened low fat cream, it was a dessert we enjoyed!Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse  Any dessert serving followed by ‘Can I have more?‘ is a sign of success! This Dark Chocolate & Persimmon Mousse  was one such example!

 

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

No bake | Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots … In Season with Kumquats

“Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world’s perfect food.”
Michael Levine

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots … these were decadent. Delicious, bowl scraping good and soul satisfying. The season and the colours of the humble little kumquat, a sour citrus fruit that was until a few years ago just an ornamental plant, all inspire creativity. This dessert was the result of one such inspired moment!

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots We always referred to kumquats as Chinese oranges or tangerines. Food blogging threw up new names. So many references to a similar fruit by the name of kumquat, and then the Google Gods demystified it. These are round kumquats, the Asian cousins of the elliptical round ones that colour the web every now and then.Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots The boughs are hanging heavy with fruit, ready for picking, and more buds and green kumquats are already showing up. My mothers shrub too is full with fruit too. This seems to be a good year for this tart citrus fruit.

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots I’ve done lots with these beauties this season … Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte, Kumquat Marmalade, and No Bake Cheesecake Pots. My mind works overtime thinking of how much more we can do with kumquats.

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots I had serious dark chocolate and orange cravings one day. Two years ago I had  made Dark chocolate & sour orange tartlets. My blog was hacked shortly after that and some posts disappeared. I didn’t have the time to check then. Recently when I looked for the tartlets high and low, I drew a blank on PAB.

Dark Chocolate & Sour Orange TartletsThe pictures are still firmly etched in my head. Googling led me to FoodGawker and I was relieved to see I had indeed made the tartlets, only that the recipe post has been lost forever. I have attempted to recreate it. I remember cooking the whole fruit then.Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots If I wasn’t inspired enough by the fruit of the season, I was even more fortunate that day. Look at these beautiful little ceramic cups and single serve creamers that I got from Urban DazzleAdorable!!  Love at first sight, it brought out the inner child in me. Took me back to when we were little girls, playing with miniature tea sets.  How could I not be inspired?

Urban Dazzle CeramicsThere’s something about white ceramic bakeware. It holds so much promise. These little round ramekins are one of the best additions to my bursting bakeware collection. There is so much you can do in them … cream caramels, panna cotta, ice cream in summer, chocolate custard pots, lime possets. Do you have any more ideas dear readers? What would you make in these little beauties?

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots One look at them as I unpacked them, smooth ceramic, neat, clean edges, aesthetically designed and my imagination took wing. There was no time to bake so I took the fast track to dessert. A winning combination of sour orange and dark chocolate, topped with a light white chocolate cream sauce. We were back in business! Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots Dark chocolate from Thorntons married a bittersweet sour orange puree to make thick custard like pastry cream. A light cream chocolate sauce made with melt in the mouth white chocolate made it sublime. Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots Candied kumquats tied the flavours together with some white chocolate garnishing. All we heard after dinner was ‘scrape, scrape, scrape’.

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots You cannot go wrong with good quality chocolate. The pots were bowl licking good as might be the case with the kids. They too fell in love with the little ‘baby’ creamers, so charming and so unreal in this world which is in so much of a hurry sometimes. It was wonderful to sit back and enjoy the petite servings.

Kumquat LiqueurIn the days to come I will try and find more ways to use the bounty of nature, i.e. kumquats in full strength. Bitter Kumquat Marmalade has been made; distributed too! I bottled some Kumquat Liqueur a few days ago in a decanter my Mum gave me. The colours are so pretty!

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots A few thoughts before I take you to the recipe. Do use good quality chocolate as that is what makes simple desserts like these absolutely shine! Also, if you prefer a smoother texture, you can always skip the almond meal. I just like to add ‘nuts’ in any form to my food.

Dark Chocolate & Kumquat Creme Pots

This post is brought to you in conjunction with Thorntons.


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

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