Monday, 14 July 2014

Peach and Almond Tart

Come Summers and everyone in my household eagerly looks forward to the stone fruits - wonderful plums, peaches, apricots and cherries to make an appearance in the market. Unfortunately for us, just as you start to enjoy them, they start to disappear leaving just a sweet memory behind them. 
So while the season lasts, I make sure that everyone enjoys these luscious juicy fruits to their heart content. Ironically, whenever I have planned to make something with these stone fruits, there never seem to be enough left to make a complete dish. Inspite of my best efforts and careful planning the fruit disappears as quickly as it gets replenished. Moreover any announcement of my plans of baking with the fruit are always met with a huge wave of protest in the house (including dear hubby) as according to my frugivores lot, it is always better to eat the fruit than cook with it.  
Just the other day, I came upon some beautiful looking juicy peaches in the market and picked them up determined to have my way this time. Looking at the plump rosy beauties, ideas of some beautiful desserts started streaming in my mind. I got the fruit home with strict instructions to everyone that they were absolutely off limits.But I knew I had to act quickly as my threat wasn't going to work for too long and one by one the peaches would start disappearing 'mysteriously' from the refrigerator. 
Initially, I started off with a plan to make a Peach Galette as the rustic form of the tart seemed really appealing to me. By the way, a Galette refers to a free form tart. These tarts are not molded in tart pans. Instead filling is placed directly on top of rolled out pastry and then the edges folded up and around the filling giving it a very elegant and rustic look. But somewhere along the way, I changed my mind and instead decided to line the pastry in a tart tin as I really wanted the peaches to shine in this dish. They were after all the main hero of my dish, so I wanted not only the flavor of the fruit to stand out but was keen that they themselves should make a grand appearance.
Peach is really the star of the dish which is why I loved this recipe so much. The crust which I have adapted from The Smitten Kitchen is light and flaky and really easy to work with it. I made a Cherry Pie with it last year and believe me it was so delicious it is memorable. A thin layer of frangipane complements the peaches perfectly and helps up the taste just a notch. If the fruit you are using is too juicy just toss in a tbsp of cornflour or even plain flour which will help to soak in the extra liquid and prevent the bottom to get too soggy. 
So what are you waiting for, hurry up while there is still time and make this before the peaches do their vanishing act from the market. I am sure looking at the mouth-watering delicious pictures you would really want to wait till next year to taste this!!
For the crust
21/2 cups flour (315 grams)
1 tbsp sugar (15 gms)
1 tsp salt (5 gms)
200 gms butter        
4-6 tbsp ice cold water
For the frangipane
1/2 cup flaked toasted almonds
1/2 cup vanilla sugar or 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
For the filling
4-5 fresh peaches, pitted and thickly sliced
2 tsp powdered sugar
Slivered almonds for sprinkling on top (optional)

Cut butter into small cubes and put the bowl into the freezer. In a food processor fitted with a plastic blade pulse the flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter. Pulse together 15-20 times until the butter has broken down into small bits about the size of tiny peas. Start adding the iced water gradually until the pastry just about begins to come together. Alternatively, if making by hand, rub the butter into the flour, add the sugar and salt and bring it together with the cold water. 
With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough, then wrap it in cling film or place in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes or if you are really pushed for time, in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, before using. 
To roll, take the pastry out of the fridge and place it between two sheets of clingfilm. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until no thicker than 1/4cm thick. Rolling the pastry between sheets of clingfilm is a trick that I have learned from watching Rachel Allen's show 'Bake'. This method is absolutely non messy and it also ensures that the pastry does not stick and no extra flour is needed while rolling . Keep stretching the clingfilm as you roll the pastry. Take care not to roll out too much as the butter need to stay intact to give you that beautiful flaky pastry layer.
Peel off the top layer of the clingfilm.
Flip the pastry with the cling film facing up into a flan tin.  Press the pastry into the edges, cling film still attached, and using your thumb, 'cut' the pastry on the edge of the tin. Remove the cling film.
Prick the pastry base with a fork to prevent it from bubbling during baking. Pop the pastry in the freezer for atleast 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Now make your frangipane or your almond paste. Roast the almonds in a dry frying pan till light golden. Set aside to cool. In the bowl of a food processor or blender finely grind the almonds, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and blend till smooth. But be careful not to add the whole egg at once. I did that and landed with a very runny almond paste on my hands. The egg should be just enough to give you a thick smooth paste.
Spoon the frangipane evenly over the tart.
Place the peaches slices on top of the tart base.
Sprinkle with 2 tsp of sugar
Chill the tart again in the fridge for 10 minutes. Place in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until crust is golden.
If you desire to glaze your tart, you can brush the top with a mixture of 1 tbsp melted jam or honey while the tart is still hot. 
Leave it on the wire rack to cool for atleast 20 minutes before serving.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Healthy Spring Rolls - The Airfryer Way!!

There is good news for all of us sweating out there - the Monsoons finally seem to have arrived!! 
I know it must have have brought big smiles and a great sense of relief to all the Delhi people, who have by now had just about enough of the unending sweltering heat the last few days, which obstinately was refusing to simmer down its scorching temperatures. We will think about all the problems that the rains brings along with it later, but for the time being lets revel in the moment and enjoy the cool air and the beautiful change of season.
Come monsoons and your taste buds automatically start craving for hot and spicy fried foods -  a plate of hot pakoras accompanied perfectly with a steaming cup of tea tempts you to throw caution to the winds and makes even the strongest of us forget all resolutions about losing weight. But not with this recipe. You can actually have your cake and eat it too. 
Can you imagine hot, crispy spring rolls without a drop of oil? Don't believe it? It is actually possible with Philips Airfryer which is basically a multi-cooker that lets you cook food without the need for oil. The Airfryer has 'Rapid Air Technology" which uses circulating hot air and a grill element to cook the food evenly without the need of vegetable oil. Now you actually don't have to worry yourself sick about the amount of oil you have consumed when indulging in your guilty pleasures and most importantly without compromising on the taste. It is a win-win situation!!
If you want to know what more you can do in the Philips Airfryer, you can check out my earlier posts - "Healthy oil free Gujiyas" and "Papaya and Jaggery cake".
Atleast I am totally smitten with the Airfryer. I find that it is not just another gadget which will occupy space on your kitchen cabinet and lies forgotten, but it actually delivers what it promises. It is perfect for those of you who are health conscious and and want to keep the use of oil to minimum. You will be surprised how quickly it cooks things with the least amount of effort. Start eating the healthy way with the Airfyer, make it your way of life too and I can assure you that like me, you too will fall in love with it.
So now, you no longer have to say no to your favorite fried food !! Just go ahead and indulge yourself and enjoy  the flavor of these monsoons with your favorite crispy fried snacks without an iota of guilt.
1 packet of Spring Roll Wrappers - thawed if frozen (Try in a supermarket or even your nearest department store- you will be surprised how easily available they are now)
1/2 cabbage - sliced in thin strips
1 small carrot julienned
1 onion, finely sliced
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 spring onions, finely sliced lengthways
200 gms boneless chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan till smoking. Add the cabbage, carrots, onions, spring onions, and ginger. Saute the vegetables quickly on very high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Be careful not to overcook. The vegetables must still have a crunch. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool down.
In the same add the chicken and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Season. Stir in with the vegetables till well mixed and keep aside to cool.
Make a thick paste of cornflour with 1 tbsp water.
These are the spring roll sheets I got and that too most surprisingly from my local supermarket. There were over 20 sheets in one packet. You need to thaw them to room temperature before separating the sheets. The great thing about this spring roll wrapper is that what you don't use you can throw them back in the freezer to reuse.
Peel your spring roll wrapper off and lay down one sheet on the surface like a diamond as shown..Cover the unused wrappers under a damp cloth as they dry off very quickly. 
Divide the filling into equal portions. Place some filling on one corner of the wrapper.
Roll tightly and when you are about halfway stop and fold in the opposite corners towards the middle so it looks like an envelope. Brush each corner with the cornflour paste.
Roll the pastry tightly towards the top corner.
Repeat with the remaining spring roll wrappers and fillings.
Place them seam side down (helps secure the corner so that the corners don't open). keep the rolls covered under a damp cloth.
Heat the Airfryer for 10 minutes @ 200. Brush the rolls with oil and place in the Airfryer basket.Cook for 5-8 minutes or till golden and crispy. You will be seriously impressed how crispy these spring rolls turn out to be and that too without oil.
Cut into smaller pieces and serve hot.
Some important Tips (from the net)
  • The best way to defrost a spring roll wrappers : overnight in the refrigerator or keep out on the counter for 30 minutes.
  • once the wrapper are defrosted,, open the package and immediately cover with a barely damp towel. The wrappers will quickly dry out and get cracked if left out in the open uncovered.
  • if the wrappers  dry out and are stiff, you can put a few wrappers on the plate, cover with a damp towel and microwave on medium for 10 minutes. The wrappers will soften up.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Launch of Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor's Restaurant 'Sura Vie by tyc' in Punjabi Bagh

I was awestruck!! I couldn't believe my luck!! In my mail were two invites to meet two of my favorite people - Madhuri Dixit and Sanjeev Kapoor - both megastars in their respective field.
Madhuri Dixit was in Delhi to launch Brooke Bond's new flavour of Darjeeling tea - Taj Mahal. Grown up in an era where Madhuri Dixit's was considered an icon for her acting skills, I was immensely thrilled at the prospect of meeting her in person. 
The second mail was an invite to attend the launch of Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor's new restaurant 'Sura Vie by tyc' in Punjabi Bagh. India's most celebrated Chef Sanjeev Kapoor needs no introduction. A household name, renowned Celebrity chef, entrepreneur, host of the extremely popular TV cookery show 'Khana Khazana' (which I believe is the longest running show of its kind in Asia and was telecast non-stop on TV for more than 17 years), author of many best selling cookbooks, National Award winner for 'Best Chef of the Year 2008', recipient of Best Executive chef of India Award by H & FS and the Mercury Gold Award at Geneva by IFCA besides many other accolades adding to his fame. He is also the mastermind behind the conception of India's first 24X7 Food Lifestyle channel 'Food Food', a treasure trove of inspiring recipes telecast on TV throughout the day, an amazing concept for food lovers like me.
Infact, my journey into the world of cooking actually began thanks to the great chef. As a newlywed in 1993, I was totally new to the world of cooking. That was the time Sanjeev Kapoor's cookery show Khaza Khazana had just started airing on TV. His charming personality and easy narrative style made him instantly connect with the audience young and old alike, keeping us totally glued to his show and diligently following his recipes to the last word (his dish Shaam -Savera which was spinach and cottage dumplings in tomato gravy, still
ingrained in my mind after all this years). Sanjeev Kapoor's style of presentation made the hardest of recipes look like fun, instilling in you the confidence that yes, even the most novice of us can cook. 
Reading carefully, I realized that unfortunately both the invites were for the same day!! Not fair at all!! Considering the distances and the time taken to travel in Delhi, as much as I would have loved to, it was impossible for me to attend both the events. So a decision had to be made.
There are no prizes for guessing what I chose - did I decide to meet the beautiful Madhuri Dixit or went ahead to meet the person who inspired in me the passion for cooking? 
Guessed right!! Without a second thought, I decided to follow my heart and attend Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's event, because, after all cooking is what I am passionate about too.
With the grand success of the first restaurant in Connaught place, Master Sanjeev Kappor unveiled the second Sura Vie by Tyc (tyc stands for The Yellow Chilli group, incase you haven't figured it out) to delight the palates of the people of West Delhi. The name of the restaurant Sura Vie rightfully is a combination of the words Sur (meaning a musical note in Sanskrit) and Vie (french for life). The menu which has been handcrafted by the Masterchef himself, is a fine compilation of international cuisines and fusion food. Tucked in the posh locality of West Delhi, Punjabi Bagh, Sura Vie is a family restaurant which, according to Chef Saurabh has a little something to delight everyone's palate whether it be North Indian, Chinese, Thai or Italian cuisine. It also seems to be very popular for holding kitty parties.
I was amongst the first to reach the restaurant. I know what you are thinking. No, it wasn't my eagerness to meet the chef which was entirely the reason. Delhi had just received it first pre-monsoons showers and though it brought a big relief from the sweltering heat, everyone knows what happens when it rains in Delhi. Total chaos on the roads and huge traffic jams had everyone else running late.  
At the launch of this franchise outlet, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor said, “I am delighted to be in West Delhi to launch the Sura Vie by Tyc concept. We always do a lot of research on the menu and deliver exactly what our patrons want. Sura Vie is a perfect destination for the people who love fusion food. It has a variety of about four cuisines from across the globe". He also said that “I am overjoyed to set up Sura Vie in West Delhi as I have spent my childhood days in this area and I wanted to open one of my restaurants here. I always wanted to tap this region of Delhi and I am extremely grateful to have finally one of the restaurants here. Sura Vie is a perfect destination for the people who love fusion food. It has a variety of about four cuisines from across the globe.” 
Also on the occasion, Franchisee owner of Sura Vie by tyc- Mr. Navneet Gupta said, It is a great honor to be an owner of the restaurant which is under the umbrella of Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I have been into this industry from about two decades and I am excited to add Sura Vie too in my kitty. I wanted to open an Indian restaurant to diversify & liked chef’s recipes, tastes & presentation. I am so happy fulfilling this obligation today.”
At the restaurant, we got to savour some delicious snacks and refreshing mocktails. Each snack served was distinctive in taste and presented creatively. Unfortunately as the event started pretty late due to Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's flight being delayed due to bad weather, the thought of driving back alone to Gurgaon at night prompted me to leave early. I couldn't stay back for dinner, even though the lavish spread looked extremely tempting. 
But I leave you here with a few mouthwatering visuals of the food served that day to feast your eyes on. After a sample tasting of the outstanding cocktails, atleast I will surely be going back to sample their main course.
Chandi kaliyan- mild flavored chicken tikkas with wealth of cheese and lemon butter with warming spices and fresh basil.

Sukha murgh siyamirch - cheese and yogurt marinated boneless chicken cooked on dum with peppercorn and loads of fresh coriander
Sura vie nachos -served with jack montrey cheese,refried beans and pico de galo
Fish Curry Patta - crunchy crumb fried fish nuggets with a touch of South Indian flavors and crunchy curry leaves.
Shabnam ke moti.
Prawn sticks - shrimps rolled in spice crumbs, pan fried and served with smoked mustard sauce.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The perfect Genoise - Baking with Julia

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a Sponge cake and a Genoise Cake?
Genoise Cake is an Italian cake named after its city of origin, Genoa. Belonging to the family of sponge cakes, it is a very light and airy cake which makes it a perfect candidate for making layer cakes, Gateaux with layers of mousse and whipped cream, sponge fingers and is also great for making Tiramisu.  It has a much drier and firmer texture than a classic sponge cake which  helps it to soak in the syrup better while retaining its shape. 
These layer cakes, common in the coffeehouses of Europe, are called "European- Style" to distinguish them from the American-style butter layer cakes, which generally have fewer, thicker layers.
 Both the Sponge Cake and Genoise Cake are light and airy and make a perfect base to make both simple and elaborate desserts.  While the technique for making a Genoise cake is quite similar to a sponge cake, the basic difference is that like in sponge cakes, the eggs are not separated but beaten whole. Other difference is that warm melted butter is added to the batter which lends the Genoise cake a lovely rich flavour while sponge cakes have no fat in the recipe.
To make a light and airy genoise, eggs and sugar are gently whisked over simmering water, which melts the sugar so that the eggs will reach their full volume when beaten. 
It is generally believed that getting a Genoise cake right is quite tricky but not with this recipe of Julia child's. This is not the first time I am baking a genoise sponge. I had earlier attempted a Fresh fruit Gateaux using Eric Lanlard's recipe.
What I found different about Julia Child's recipe and what really attracted me to it was that her version of genoise cake is one of the very few recipes which does not require any heating of the eggs making the process really simple. The recipe just calls for beating whole eggs and sugar together for a couple of minutes till the mixture is nice and fluffy and leaves a ribbon trail behind. I made the recipe exactly as stated, followed every little detail and the result was a beautiful soft and light cake. 
Topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits it was delicious - an ideal cake for summertime.

From the Cake Bible: "Genoise is a European sponge-type cake which differs from American sponge in that it contains butter to partially tenderize and flavor it and much less sugar. Even when syrup is added to flavor it, it's still less sweet then a sponge cake though a lot more moist. With a generous amount of syrup it's moist without being wet.
Recipe adapted from  Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
1 cup sifted cake flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
4 large eggs, at room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 170 C.
Pour the melted butter into a 1-quart bowl; reserve. 
Return the sifted flour to the sifter or sieve and add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the salt; sift onto a piece of waxed paper and set aside. 
Put the eggs and the remaining sugar into the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer (or work with a hand-held mixer). 
Holding the whisk attachment from the mixer in your hand, beat the mixture to blend the ingredients. 
With the bowl and whisk attachment in place, whip the mixture on medium speed until it is airy, pale, and tripled in volume, like softly whipped cream, 4 to 5 minutes. 
You'll know that the eggs are properly whipped when you lift the whisk and the mixture falls back into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface for about 10 seconds. 
If the ribbon immediately sinks into the mixture, continue whipping for a few more minutes. 
Pour in the vanilla extract during the last moments of whipping. 
Detach the bowl from the mixer. 
Sprinkle about one third of the sifted flour mixture over the batter. 
Fold in the flour with a rubber spatula, stopping as soon as the flour is incorporated. 
Fold in the rest of the flour in 2 more additions. 
Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with solid shortening, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. Fit the bottom with a parchment or waxed paper circle. 
Gently spoon about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the melted butter and fold the butter in with the rubber spatula. Fold this mixture into the batter in the mixer bowl. (This is the point at which the batter is at its most fragile, so fold gingerly.) 
Pour batter into a prepared pan, smooth with a spatula, and bake at 325F/170 C for 25-27 minutes. 
Cake is done when it rises and doubles, and springs back when you touch it and the cake starts to come away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the cake to a rack and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 
To remove the cake from the pan, first test its readiness: Tilt and rotate the pan, then gently tap it on the counter. If it doesn't seem as if the cake is releasing from the pan, or you are the cautious type, run a thin blade between the cake and the sides of the pan, freeing the sides and letting a little air get under the cake. 
Invert the cake onto a rack and remove the pan. Slowly peel off the paper liner, turn it over, and put it back on the cake. Cover the cake with another rack and invert again. 
Remove the top rack and let the cake cool completely right side up. 
The cake can remain uncovered at room temperature for a day, but it should be wrapped in plastic if you won't be using it within 2 days. For longer storage, wrap it well and freeze it for up to 10 days. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature