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A thoughtful blend of original ‪‎photography‬, ‪haiku‬ and ‪calligraphy‬; a cathartic journey upon fluid images and simple words.

25 Mar 2010

Fresh, zingy richness in a clear glass

The four Velveteers are back! After our Red-Velvet cakes we come back to you with a new adventure into our fridges, grocery stores and creative minds.
This time it took us quite a few emails before we could agree on what to propose you. At the end we settled for a Verrine.
What is that?? You might say; that is simply a layered dish prepared into a transparent glass so to admire the alternation of its colors and textures and entice our tasting experience. To make the challenge more interesting we decided to propose each an ingredient to keep secret till the day when they were disclosed all together to the others. Aparna required us to include a cheese of any kind, Asha went for zucchini or squash, Pam chose salmon and I threw in chocolate (yeah I know, I like to make things difficult).

So, let’s see what we have on hands. Zucchini have two major qualities to them: they have a lovely crunchy bite when raw and they get sweet when cooked long enough. To make the things even, I decided to use them two ways: creamy and crunchy.
As salmon I chose to use the smoked one and it is mainly salty, rich and meaty.
The flavors did work for me from the starting; the tricky part was in choosing a proper cheese that will stand out balancing the saltiness of the salmon and the sweetness of the zucchini. At the end, I chose to use Gorgonzola with its saltiness and slight bitterness.
Chocolate was naturally to be dark for me but… when pondering on the juxtaposition of the different layers, the possibility to use milk chocolate came around.

To link the various components I had my spice rack on hand.
All this thinking and pondering brought to life my:

Smoked salmon verrine with zucchini-duo, a Gorgonzola mornay sauce and peppery chocolate shards.

20 Mar 2010

A taste savior

How often did you find yourself at the end of a busy working day and still you have to figure out what to cook for dinner? In these situations, burgers are often a life savior! The pantry is your loyal companion in this business.
Last night, I was in the mood for tasty burgers and went into my kitchen with all the best intentions of cooking myself the juiciest and tastiest patties ever when, on the peak of the mixing, I run off of breadcrumbs… So here we go; pantry, au secour!! Naturally flour was not an option but I had cornmeal. A little onion here, few green chilies there, hups some lemon fell in too and ta daaaa!

Polenta burgers with green bird-eye chilies and lemon zest

16 Mar 2010

Red, White and Green

More or less two month ago, Asha of Fork-Spoon-Knife announced her own challenge: the FSK-Café. Similar to the Paper Chef, the FSK-Café challenge requires us to create two or more dishes with the chosen ingredients. For the first round, Asha chose mozzarella, tomato and basil.
They are everyday ingredients but quite deceptive. It is hard to come up with innovative dishes featuring this Italian trio; salads, pasta dishes, bready ones are those that come up to mind. To make things more challenging, I chose then to stay as far as possible from starches in my dishes and this is what I came up with:
  • Mozzarella Lasagna with Tomato brunoise, basil and lemon peel served on a rosemary scented orange carpaccio;

  • Fluffy sweet mozzarella curds with candied tomatoes and dark chocolate basil boat served with a tomato caramel sauce.

And here you are how to do them by yourself.

11 Mar 2010

Rejuvenation is Yellow

The world of food bloggers challenges never stops to produce pleasant surprises. It was just last week that Cathy of ShowFood Chef popped by my blog and left a comment. I then had the pleasure to discover her blog and the PaperChef challenge!
This is quite the kind of challenge I prefer. What is it about? Monthly a series of 4 ingredients are drawn randomly from a list and a theme is picked by the monthly-host. Our duty is then to produce as many recipes as we wish featuring these ingredients and inspired by the chosen theme. But get a look here for a more complete description, have a look here.
The host for this month challenge is Cath of Prospect: the Pantry; the ingredient drawn were Honey, Ricotta, Dill and Eggs and the theme was Rejuvenation.
To me, all of these ingredients speak of life, spring, sunshine, grass; it was quite easy then to put together my two entries.
The first concentrate on the symbolism of the egg as a life bearer and this thought bloomed in me as a:

Deviled egg with ricotta and dill mousse over a Honey-Dark Chocolate sauce.

1 Mar 2010

Daring Bakers at travel

Challenges, the life of a foodie are full of them; even more if you are a blogger. We apostrophize ourselves as Daring and caring. Being it savory or sweet, we meet up each month in two occasions to share the results on a chosen challenge.
The sweet challenge that us, Daring Bakers (DBs), have been presented with this month was Tiramisu. Thanks to this choice, we were able to make an ideal travel starting from India, reaching USA with a little touch of Italy.
The hostesses for the monthly DBs’ challenge were the lovely Aparna and Deeba from the colorful India. They chose the recipe for Tiramisu proposed by pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone. Major part of the challenge was the making of mascarpone and ladyfingers biscuits from scratch. Frankly speaking, this was not the hardest part of the challenge; the recipe itself was quite long to finish. The entire process took a whole of 3 days with 2 days dedicated strictly on the tiramisu cake.
Have you ever tried to make this Italian dessert? I am sure though that you have tasted it: soft, spongy biscuits soaked in strong coffee and layered with a fluffy and delicate mascarpone and egg cream; a dusting of cocoa powder crowns it all.
It is not a really difficult cake to make and it is always a great success with guests.
Here there is the recipe we were asked to follow.

A plastic delight

Childhood brings always good memories back. What if we could play like then and also satisfy our grown up needs? Right, we need chocolate in this; plastic chocolate.
This will be lots of fun for your kids to play with and very useful to you to decorate your cakes making luscious bows, little animal or roses like these ones.
It is easy to make and to work with, here there is how to do it.
Plastic Chocolate

  • 100g dark chocolate;
  • 30g light corn syrup (any kind of syrup will work I used Agave syrup for instance).
Cut the chocolate with a saw knife and melt it in a double boiler. Take it away when it is almost totally melted and continue stirring until it will be shiny and fully melted. Add the corn syrup and mix until the mixture gets together (it may become a bit grainy, but that is normal).Cut a big piece of cling film, poor the mixture over half of it; cover it with the other half of the cling film and flatten properly. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before using it.
When ready, work the mass in batches with the palm of your hands until soft and warmed up ready to model.

Light delights

“Do you want to pop by for coffee and biscuits? Oh wait, I don’t have any biscuits home!” No worries, nothing easier than these feathery light and easy on the waist biscuit to whip up at the last moment.
These are what in Italy we call Savoiardi biscuits this means “belonging to the Savoy’s family” or as well “coming from the French regions of Savoy”. Apart from being perfect to dip into hot coffee, these biscuits are the base for the famous Italian dessert Tiramisu.
Did I get you curious? Do you want to try and make these? Here you have a recipe for them.

Ladyfingers/Savoiardi biscuits
(Adapted from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 6 big ladyfingers ladyfingers.
  • 1 egg, separated;
  • pinch of cream of tartar;
  • pinch of salt;
  • 2 tablespoons /40g granulated sugar;
  • 30g cake flour, sifted (or 25g all purpose flour with 5g cornstarch);
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting.
Start preheating the oven to 350 F/175 C, in the meantime beat the egg white with the pinch of salt and cream of tartar (if you are not able to find it, you can substitute it with a drop of fresh lemon juice). When the egg whites will start holding firm peak, start sprinkling in the granulated sugar and continue beating until you obtain a nice and glossy meringue. Fold then in it the egg yolk and one third at a time the flour.
Lightly grease a baking tray and cover with release foil or baking paper, shape the biscuit mixture on the tray to our liking using a pastry bag or a spoon. Sprinkle some caster sugar on top of the biscuits and wait for it to be absorbed by them; do this for a couple of times. At this point you may tip the excess sugar out of the baking tray.
Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for roughly 10 minutes, or until nicely puffed and golden brown.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Candida voluptate for your wakeup

I suppose you have already encountered in your path this Italian cheese confection. A sort of rich cream-cheese is often used in Italian cuisine to create luscious dishes, from pasta to desserts. For instance quite popular are the tagliatelle with mascarpone and walnuts or radicchio; it can also be used in place of cream to enrich sauces or stuffing featuring ricotta cheese.
Though pretty versatile and luxurious, this creamy white cheese may be a bit expensive to buy outside Italy; thankfully for us, doing it at home is pretty easy. Here you have how to.

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese )
This recipe makes 140gm of mascarpone cheese (the yield is roughly 50%).
  • 250ml whipping pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% fat cream will do);
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl that will fit snugly on top of the saucepan but will not touch the water. Place the bowl with the cream on the saucepan to create a double boiler. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F/88 See; the cream will almost be boiling at that point.
It will take about 10-15 minutes of heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream will start looking greenish sign that the whey is starting to separate.
The cream ill just be slightly thicker at this point and you may think to have screwed up the recipe. The mascarpone will firm up and present itself to you after overnight refrigeration. Place then a fine sieve, lined with various layers of cheesecloth or a wet cotton handkerchief, over a bowl and poor the cream into the sieve letting the whey drain into the bowl. Let he cream come to room temperature before putting it in the fridge overnight to drain and set.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

Now that you know how to do it, you are free to choose the kind of cream you want to use, both as source as well as fat content. Give it a try, you will love this cheese if only simply with some chocolate/nougat spread on a toast for an elegant breakfast.