Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spanish Omelette

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is definitely one of the most entertaining books I've read in recent times.

Suspense, intrigue, revenge, love (of books, unrequited love, lost love, first flush of love ), the difficult journey from childhood to adulthood - this page turner has it all.

10 year old Daniel Sempere is introduced by his father to the Cemetery Of Forgotten Books - an old and secret place that houses books that even time seems to have forgotten. This is a place that is not many are privy to and the tradition here is that the first time someone visits the place, he must choose any book he likes and then become its caretaker, so to speak.

Daniel chooses a novel Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax - though this is an author that he, the son of a book shop owner, has never heard of, it seems to him that this book has been waiting all along for him. It is a novel that makes its way to his heart and soon, Daniel is seeking out other works by Carax.

To his dismay and shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every single copy of every novel that Julian Carax has ever written. In fact, the one copy that he has of the Shadow of the Wind seems to be the only one that has survived and someone seems to be intent on getting that from him as well.

Why is this person so keen on destroying Carax's work and who is Julian Carax? Daniel's curiosity is piqued and he starts to find out all he can about the mysterious and elusive Carax. But what starts as simple curiosity of an admirer leads him over the course of the following 10 years to a labyrinth of secrets, lies and revenge. As he delves deeper and deeper into the mystery of Carax's life, Daniel soon realises that he and those closest to him might be in great danger...

There are several food references throughout the book - Fermin Romero de Torres, Daniel's friend and mentor, has a voracious appetite - ham croquettes, brioches with butter, sandwiches, omelettes, chocolates and sugus sweets - he seems to be able to wolf down large quantities of food with great alacrity.....

"Did you hear that?" Fremin suddenly said. "Sounded like a drumroll for a somersault."
"No."
"Yours truly's rumblings. Look, I'm suddenly terribly hungry...."

I wanted to make patata bravas but in the end, I was too lazy and ended up with the Spanish Omelette which is something we have pretty regularly at home.



"Would you object to a stop at the bar in Plaza de Sarria to polish off two well-endowed omelette sandwiches, plus trimmings?"

The tortilla de patatas or Spanish omelette - is a typical Spanish dish consisting of an egg omelette with fried potatoes and is one of the most popular tapas in Spain. In fact different regions in Spain have their own ways of making this omelette, here's how I make Spanish Omelette at home.


Spanish Omelette

Ingredients:

Eggs - 3
Potato - 1 large
Bell pepper, red - 1/2, chopped
Onion - 1/2, chopped
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, chopped
Green Chillies - 2, chopped
Olive oil - 1.5 tbsp
Salt and pepper

Method:

Parboil the potato and slice it into circles. Heat oil and fry the potato slices till done.

(Traditionally, raw potatoes are fried in a couple of tablespoons of oil, the idea being that the potatoes should be stewed in the oil - I balk at the idea of using too much oil and so parboil mine).

When the potatoes are nearly done, add the onions and fry them till pink.

As the onions fry, gently beat the eggs and add the remaining ingredients. When the potatoes and the onions are done, transfer them into the eggs in the bowl and mix gently.

Tip the eggs into the pan and cook, covered, on very low heat till done.

Cut into wedges and eat as is or with some salad or bread.

Here's what the other members of the Book Club made:


Next month, we are reading "A Space between Us" by Thrity Umrigar. Want to join us? Write in to Simran!!




Friday, June 26, 2009

Mediterranean Salad


There are days when I don't feel like stepping into the kitchen - all thanks to the terribly hot summer we've been experiencing here - and yet feel like having delicious dinners...at home.

This Mediterranean salad is perfect for such days - served with wholemeal bread and a cold soup or some grilled chicken, it is makes for a very tasty and colourful dinner without too much of effort! What's more, this is one healthy and balanced meal - combining veggies, dairy and nuts.





Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients:

Potatoes - 2 medium sized
Sweet potato - 1
Bell pepper - 2 (I used a mix of red, yellow and green)
Shallots - 10
Garlic - 8 cloves
Tomato - 1 large
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Dried basil - 1 1/2 tsp
Chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp
Feta cheese
black olives - a handful
walnuts - a handful

for the dressing:

white wine vinegar - 2 tbsp
honey - 1 tsp
mustard - 1 tsp
olive oil - 1 1/2 tsp
dried basil - 1 tsp

salt, pepper, chilli flakes

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C

Parboil the potatoes and the sweet potatoes in salted water. Cut into cubes.

Cut the bell peppers into cubes. De-seed the tomatoes and cut into cubes. Peel the shallots, but don't cut them. Crush the garlic - just enough to loosen the skin.

Toss all the veggies together (including the potatoes, onion and the garlic) in the olive oil, chilli flakes, some dried basil leaves and salt. Cook in the pre-heated oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Whisk together the mustard, olive oil, honey and the vinegar, season with dried basil, salt and pepper as per your taste and pour over the roasted veggies.

Top with the feta cheese, olives and walnuts and toss gently.
(So, you don't see these in my picture? Hmm...that's because I forgot - yes, forgot - to add them in my hurry to take the pictures. Realised when we ate the first spoonful - by which time, I didn't want to take pictures again).

Enjoy!!

Off to Priya's for AFAM : Bell Peppers, event started by Maheshwari.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Eggless, Low Fat Mango Ice Cream

Patience is not a virtue that I have in abundance, and ice cream making really tests my patience. I mean, imagine making the ice cream and then blending it again and again and again and again and again and again - see, aren't you already running out of patience reading 'again and again' - before being able to completely freeze it and eat it! That takes real patience and restraint and so more often than not, I'd end up with store bought ice creams.

But there is nothing like home made ice cream and so finally, last month, I trooped down to an electronics store and bought an ice cream maker.

Ice cream making is such a breeze now - wonder why I waited so long to buy one!!


Most of the ice cream recipes that came along with the ice cream maker or the ones I found on the net used either egg yolk or cream. Considering we have a major sweet tooth and indulge in ice creams very often, I wanted an ice cream that used neither egg yolks or cream - a slightly healthier version.


I was complaining about this to my mum and she mailed me this recipe - this is a recipe that she had in her old recipe book - and boy! what a lovely, creamy ice cream it results in.


I have made numerous flavours - chocolate, lychee, vanilla (you have been warned - I will be posting ice creams very often now!)- but when it is the season for mangoes, how can I not make mango ice cream?




Eggless Low Fat Mango Ice Cream


Ingredients

Low Fat Milk - 400 ml + 50 ml
Unsweetened Skimmed Milk Powder - 40 gms ( I used Saagar Milk Powder)
Sugar - 40 gms (use more or les depending on the sweetness of the mango)
Cornflour - 1 tsp
Mango pulp - 400 ml

Method:

Mix together milk powder, sugar and cornflour with 50 ml milk to make a smooth paste without any lumps; this is takes a lot of patience so I whiz mine in the mixie.

Boil the remaining milk, then add the paste slowly stirring continuously and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 2 mins. Let it cool - I cool this in an ice water bath.

Once it cools, add the mango pulp and blend it in the mixie.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Tada....enjoy the delicious and creamy mango ice cream!!

(If you don't have an ice cream maker, then blend the ice cream 4-6 times everytime it reaches a semi -soft stage to break the crystals).



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Microwave Palak Paneer

There was a time when my daughter was very fascinated by colours - she still is - but back then, she was just understanding the colours and learning to identify them and so she would talk about colours all the time.

So, I thought it would be a great idea to induce her to eat different (healthy) food types by talking about food in terms of colour.

So there was white mummum (mummum is food BTW, for her) = curd rice, and orange mummum = khichdi, or yellow mummum = egg curry and so on. I even managed pink mummum = pureed beetroot with yoghurt. What had me and still has me stumped was the day she asked for faint blue mummum!

Faint blue mummum.....any suggestions?

Green mummum = palak paneer is something that she loves, here's my version of it.




Microwave Palak Paneer

Ingredients:

Spinach - 2 cups, loosely packed (leaves only)
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomatoes - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Green chilli* - 1
Cumin seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder* - to taste
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1/2 tsp

*when I make this for my daughter, I completely omit the green chilli and the red chilli powder



Method:

Discard the stalks of the spinach, retaining only the leaves.
(Dont throw away the stalks though - I normally boil them in some water and use the resulting broth to knead dough to make rotis)

Clean the leaves by washing them under running water.
(This is extremely critical when cooking with greens)

Then, add half a cup of water and blanch the spinach in the microwave - this should take about 3 mins, depending on the power of your microwave. Set aside to cool.

Next, in microwave proof bowl, add oil and heat it for a minute. Add cumin seeds and garlic and microwave for a minute and half.

Then add the onions (and green chilli) and cook for 2 mins, stirring once in between. Put the tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes, stirring twice in between. Blend this together with the blanched spinach leaves to a smooth puree.

Add the paneer, the dry masalas and the seasoning, microwave for another 5 mins, stirring twice in between and serve hot with jeera rice/rotis.

This is my entry to CFK:Greens hosted by Pavani, event started by Sharmi

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spicy Macaroni in Tomato Bell Pepper Sauce

For those of you who are new to my blog, the husband's not a pasta fan and so very often, when he was not going to be home for dinner, I'd experiment with different pasta recipes, thoroughly enjoying my dinner for one!

Sigh...it seeems, though, that now I will no longer be able to enjoy my pasta dinners alone, curled up in front of the T.V.
For I made this spicy macaroni, Terradaze was thoroughly bowled over and now has developed a liking to pasta dinners!

Here's to pasta dinners for two....




<Spicy Macaroni in Tomato Bell Pepper Sauce

Ingredients:

Chicken - 1 leg, de-doned and cut into bite sized cubes
Green bell pepper - 1, cut into cubes
Tomato - 1 large, de-seeded and cut into cubes
Garlic - 2 cloves, sliced
Fresh/dried basil - 1 tbsp (or more)
Olive oil
Cream - 1/3 cup
White wine - 2 tbsp, optional
Grated cheese - 1 tbsp

for the marinade:
whisk together 2 tsp honey, 1 tbsp white vinegar, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, 1/2 crushed pepper , salt.

Macaroni - 1/2 cup

Method:

Marinate the chicken in the marinade for about an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C.

In a roasting pan, add the chicken, tomato, bell pepper, a tbsp of olive oil, the basil, some salt and the sliced garlic. Bake until the chicken is cooked - stir a couple of times in between; this took me about 25 minutes.

In the same pan, add the cream, the cheese and the white wine. Return the pan to the oven, till the cream is heated through - about 2-3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to your taste.

While the chicken is cooking, cook the macaroni al dente- I cook mine by adding a chicken stock cube to the water, alongwith some olive oil and salt. Drain and set aside.

Spoon the sauce over the macaroni and enjoy with a glass of red wine!!

Sending this to Daphne who is hosting this week's Presto Pasta Nights # 117, event started by Ruth.

This also goes to Priya who is hosting this month's AFAM : Bell Peppers, event started by Maheshwari.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chicken Korma

In the last 10 years, we have moved 4 cities and 8 houses. One of the great things about moving is the forced spring cleaning that happens - every single time, we are aghast at the clutter (particularly paper clutter) that we accumulate, vowing each time to be more careful 'this' time!

But there was this one box that moved with us from Bombay to Calcutta, then back to Bombay, and from there to Dubai - unopened. We knew what was in the box - some scraps of very precious memories - and therefore, never needed to de-clutter it. Every successive packer would simply add another cover layer of cardboard on the box, write our names and the new destination and the box would be on its way.

When we were moving out of Dubai, the urge to leaf through those scraps of memory was irrestible - afterall, there is something delightfully exciting and amusing as well to look at yourself many years later!

Somewhere amongst things such as my class X autograph book, Terradaze's annual class photograph, greeting cards and a dried rose (testimony to the first flush of love), summer training project reports, our first salary slips, I found this recipe.

A colleague at work would bring this chicken korma for lunch; everytime she brought it, we would descend on her lunch box...like, well, greedy crows. Somehow, I had completely forgotten that on my last day at work, she had scribbled this recipe on the back of my final settlement statement!

This is now my to-go chicken curry recipe. It requires absolutely no marination, no grinding of any masala and yet, it tastes like I have sweated in the kitchen to make it. Creamy(without the cream!) and flavourful, every spoonful will be licked off the plate!




Chicken Korma

Ingredients:

Chicken - 500 gms, boneless
Onions - 3, chopped
Ginger paste - 1.5 tsp
Garlic paste - 2.5 tsp
Whole garam masala: Bay Leaf - 1, Cinnamon - 1" stick, Green cardamom - 3
Cashewnut powder - 2.5 tbsps
Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Masala powders: Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp, Garam masala powder, chicken curry masala - 1 tsp
Low Fat Milk - 1 cup
Saffron - a pinch, soaked in a tbsp of milk
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped

Method:

Heat oil and add the whole garam masala. After a minute, add the ginger garlic paste, stir till fragrant. Next add the chopped onions and fry till lightly browned.

Now, add the chicken and fry on high flame till the chicken is half done. Lower the flame.

Mix the masala powders, salt and the cashewnut powder into the yoghurt and add this mixture in 2 batches to the chicken. Fry till the chicken blends well with the yoghurt and the oil separates.

Now, add the milk, the saffron milk and 1 tbsp of coriander leaves to the chicken, cover and cook on a low flame till the chicken is done. Lastly, add the remaining coriander leaves and the sugar and simmer another 5 minutes.

Serve with rotis or jeera rice.

Sending this to Viki's Potluck - Chicken. And though I normally don't send in archived posts to events, these - Chicken in Oyster Sauce and Slow Roast Chicken - are my favourites and so these go to the potluck as well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Burnt Butter Cake

No, this is not about a failed baking adventure (thank god for that!!)...this is not about a burnt butter cake, but a burnt butter cake.

For Christmas last year, I received 3 cookbooks as gifts.

(Wonder what this implies...either that people want to indulge me my passion for cooking or that they want to kindly hint that there is room for improvement...hmmm)

One of those books was Nigella Lawson's 'How to be a Domestic Goddess:Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking'. This is the kind of cookbook that I love to have by my bedside - Nigella's writing style is very engaging, most recipes are preceded by some story or anecdote; most importantly, she is sounds quite re-assuring, especially in recipes which normally intimidate home bakers.

One of the first recipes I tried from the book was her Burnt Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes.

"It is difficult to explain the wonderful resonant taste that burnt butter has", she says, "just think of it as a kind of mouth-filling nuttiness".

How apt. Anyone who has ever made clarified butter at home would know the taste and the smell of 'burnt butter' (mmmm, absolutely wonderful) and would agree that a better description of burnt butter cannot be found.

I made a few changes to her Burnt Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes, here's my take on the recipe




Burnt Butter - Caramel - Brown Sugar Cake

Ingredients:

Butter - 250 gms
Cake flour - 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsps
Salt - 1/4 tsp (omit if using salted butter)
Caramel syrup (recipe follows) - 4 tbsps
Light brown sugar - 12 tbsps
Eggs - 4
Milk - 6 tbsps
Vanilla essence - 2tsps

Method:

Put the butter in a saucepan and cook until it turns brown. Strain it through a fine mesh to get rid of the sediment and set aside to cool and solidify.

Sieve together the flour and the baking powder.

When the butter sets, cream it together with the caramel syrup and the light brown sugar for about 5-7 mins.

Add the vanilla essence and then the eggs, one after the other, mixing well after each addition.
Next, fold the flour in 3 quick additions. Lastly, add the milk so that the batter has a smooth, dropping consistency.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C. Grease and line a 9" round baking pan and bake for about 40 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

(Note: when baking your cakes, if the top browns too quickly, but the cake is still not done in the middle, cover it - loosely - with aluminium foil. This will prevent the cake top from getting burnt and not affect the baking in any way).

In the meantime, prepare the frosting. I used caramelised butter frosting for this cake.

Caramelised Butter Frosting: (recipe from Shuna Fish Lydon)

for the caramel syrup (the original quantities are different, this is what I used)

sugar 12 tbspswater
3 tbsps + 6 tbsps

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in the 6 tbsps of water. Be careful when doing this, the caramel tends to splutter about so it is best to have gloves on when doing this.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

for the frosting:

Unsalted butter - 12 tbsps
Icing sugar, sifted - 453 gms
Heavy cream 4-6 tbsps
Vanilla extract - 2 tsps
Caramel syrup 2-4 tsps
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown and pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool. I waited until the butter solidified again.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup.
Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Now for the really tough part - the one that involves restraint and patience - take the cake off the baking tin, wait for it to cool. Then, frost it. I would have liked to divide the cake into two and sandwich the two layers with a bit of frosting; I would also have liked to frost the cake on the sides, unfortunately, I didn't have too much icing sugar on hand, so I ended up slathering all the frosting only on the top.

Cut a slice...no, you can't eat it yet....first take a few pictures, while all the time drooling - oh the sacrifices for blogging!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Batata Wada

We were the few lucky girls in the hostel...the ones who worked in Mumbai, but headed back home every (other) weekend - because home was a just 4 hr train ride away - in Pune. No matter what train, no matter that not having reservations meant that very often we would just have to spread newspapapers and sit down on the floor near the train doors, we would still make that weekend trip back home.

En route to Pune, at Karjat station, two additional engines are attached to the train to help it chug along the uphill ghaat. This is a longish stop - and there are vendors aplenty selling soft drinks and chikkis and...yes - the one thing we'd been impatiently waiting for - batata wada (a mashed potato patty covered with gram flour paste and deep fried ).

The spicy batata wada was the perfect accompaniment for what is without doubt the best part of the journey - the train making its way up the ghat - through the numerous tunnels it went and as it climbed higher, cottony clouds clung to the treetops and in monsoons, numerous waterfalls cascaded down the hill slopes...breath-takingly beautiful.

H.O.W.E.V.E.R, the most over riding memory of batata wada for me is, sadly, not the beautiful train ride, but the horrenduous, awful song Batata Wada. My friend would hum that song as the train approached Karjat with the result that now this song so firmly entrenched in my brain that every time I have/make batata wada, it starts playing in my head.

So while I go dunk my head in cold water to clear the song off my head, you go take a look at my way of making batata wada.




Batata Wada

Ingredients:

Potatoes - 5 nos
Garlic - 10 cloves, finely chopped
Curry Leaves - 12-15
Coriander Leaves - 4 tbsps, chopped
Green chillies - 3
Ginger - 1" piece
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric - 3/4 tsp
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt
Sugar - 1 tsp

for the batter:

Besan/Gram flour - 2 cups
Water - 1 cup
Salt, turmeric, red chilli powder - to season the batter

A pinch of soda bi-carb
Oil for deep frying

Method:

Pressure cook the potatoes until soft - normally, I cook mine for about 4 whistles. Peel and cut into cubes; when cool enough to handle, add salt and sugar and mix well, mashing as you mix - you are looking for a chunky mash.

Pound the green chillies and ginger together.

Heat oil, pop in the mustard seeds. Let them splutter and then add the curry leaves and chopped garlic. Stir till the garlic turns soft. Then add the curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric powder, followed by the green chilli and ginger paste and stir for a minute.

Now, add the potatoes and stir till the potatoes are evenly coated with the tempering. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and the lemon juice, continue to mix for a further two minutes and set aside to cool a bit.

Prepare the batter by mixing together the gram flour and the water - add the water in two additions - the amount indicated here is just a guideline; the resulting batter should not be too runny or thin. Add the seasonings (I also add some chopped curry leaves in my batter as well as some ginger, chilli paste) and whisk well.. Then add the soda bi-carb and a tbsp of hot oil.

Heat oil in a kadhai, shape the potatoes into lemon sized balls, dip into the batter and fry till golden brown.

Serve hot with chutneys/ sauces of your choice. I served mine with tamarind chutney, mint chutney and garlic chutney.

This is my entry to RCI: Mumbai Street Food that I am hosting, event conceptualised by Lakshmi.

Oh, still wondering about that song, are you? Listen to it here. Sure enough, it will haunt you!!



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Announcing RCI: Mumbai Street Food

Thank You, Lakshmi, for giving me the opportunity to host your very popular RCI.

My choice for this month's RCI is Mumbai Street Food.

But what is so special about 'Mumbai' street food, you might ask. After all, street food is something that is inherent to almost every other nukkad (street corner) in almost every corner of India.

The city is dotted with street carts selling a wide variety of food - the tourist popular places of Chowpatty or Juhu , the very famous but pricey chaats at Elco arcade, the sardar's dhaba at Linking Road that sells delicious tandoori fish and tandoori chicken, the delicious desserts at Bachelor's on Marine Drive, the delectable kebabs and phirnis at Mohd. Ali road, the late night hot spot of Bade Miyan, the hawkers outside almost every college in the city, the masala chai stalls scattered all across the city, the greasy hakka noodles..... the list seems almost endless!

While to many of us street food is just an indulgence - something to eat when the craving for something delicious strikes - like chaats and vadas and samosas and bhajjis and kulfis and golas (crushed ice lolly dunked in flavoured sugar syrup), to some others, street food is what they turn to for their meals - like the jhunka bhakri (gram flour gravy served with Indian bread) or the very humble sandwich or piping hot idlis and dosas.

And that to me is the essence of street food in Mumbai - that there something to suit every palate, every need and every pocket - at almost any time of the day.

So, let's celebrate the street food of Mumbai in this month's RCI.



There is a wide array of food to choose from, so just give your desire for lip-smacking food a free run!


1. Make any Mumbai street food and post it in your blog from now until June 30, 2009.


2. Archived posts are welcome, so long as they are re-posted for this event.


3. Multiple entries are (more than) welcome, but restricted to 4 per blog.


4. Link your post to this announcement and Lakshmi's RCI page. Use the logo wherever possible, though this is not mandatory.


5. Mail your entries to servedwithlove.aquadaze(at)gmail(dot)com with the following details:



Your name
Blog name and blog URL
Entry name and URL
A picture of your entry


Hope you join me in celebrating Mumbai's street food with all your delicious entries!!


Monday, June 1, 2009

Chicken Stew

This month, the Book Club read Joanne Harris' Five Quarters of the Orange.

First, the title: Five Quarters of an Orange. Five? Quarters?? Doesn't make any mathematical sense, does it? But it all makes sense when you read the book. No, no, no - I won't spoil it for you by writing all about it here, if it intrigues you, go ahead and pick up the book. It is an awesome read.

So what is this book all about?

It is a story that runs between present day France and an occupied France during WWII. It also a story of how seemingly innocent childhood obsessions, infatuations and selfishness could snowball into unexpected horrors.

At its heart is its main protagonist, a 65 year old widow Francoise Simon who moves to Les Laveuses, a small village on the banks of the Loire. There, she runs a creperie, dishing out food largely based on the recipes that she inherited from her mother.

But, she hides a dark secret - she is actually Framboise Dartigen who lived on the same farm many years ago with her widowed mother, Mirabelle and a brother Cassis and sister Reinette - and she does not wish the villagers to know her true identity. For, their family is much abhorred in the village.

But her veil of disguise is a thin one that threatens to unravel with the growing popularity of her creperie.

As she deciphers the cryptic notes scribbled alongside recipes in her mother's recipe book, Framboise finally gets the full picture of what really happened on the farm when she was 9 and more importantly, her role in triggering the chain of events that led to the family being so maligned.




In terms of food, I was spoilt for choice...there is just so much food here, with brief recipes thrown in as well! In the end, I decided to make what Mirabelle Dartigen put on the table the day that the ball started rolling.

"She was making fish stew with the scraps from the market, and I could smell the rich aroma of rosemary and garlic and tomatoes and frying oil coming from the kitchen".

"The stew was good; red onions and tomatoes cooked in garlic and herbs and a cupful of white wine, the fish scraps simmering tenderly amongst fried potatoes and whole shallots".

Terradaze is allergic to fish and so I made chicken stew instead, but this stew is something that you can make with chicken or fish or meat....or even only with lots of veggies. It is a very healthy and flavourful stew, you'll love it!


Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

Chicken - 250 gms, with the bone
Garlic - 3 cloves, sliced
Tomato - 1 large
Onion - 1, cut into cubes, layers separated
Mixed vegetables (I used 2 carrots, 2 sweet potatoes, 1 cup cauliflower, 1/2 cup celery)
White wine - 1/2 cup
Apple cider vinegar - 2 tbsps
Rosemary (fresh or dried) - 2 tbsps (or more if you want)
Mixed Italian seasoning - 1 1/2 tbsp (more or less according to your taste)
Peppercorn
Salt
Olive oil

Method:

Make the base stock - Heat oil and fry the garlic till it turns brown. Add the chicken and stir for about 5 mins. Add water, finely chopped tomato, herbs, peppercorn and salt and boil till the chicken cooks. Mash the tomato with the back of a spoon intermittently. Simmer for about 15 mins.

Strain the stock and de- bone the chicken.

Add the vegetables (except the celery) and onion to the stock, toss in some herbs and peppercorn and cook till the vegetables are just cooked. Now add the shredded chicken, celery, the white wine and the vinegar and simmer for another 5 minutes. Adjust the salt and the pepper to your taste.

For those of you who are vegetarians, just skip the chicken in the base stock and add some mushrooms instead. Teetotalers, substitute white wine with 2 tbsps of grape vinegar.

Serve hot with some warm dinner rolls.

In June, we are reading one of my all time favourite books, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I risk doing the entire review right here and now, but I will just stop at saying this - even if you are not a member of the book club, this is one book that is a MUST READ for any book lover. And if you want to read this book and cook with it as part of the book club, write in to Simran.


It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

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