Archive for July 2011

Zesty Pasta Florentine   2 comments

-:Ingredients:-

200-250 gm Al Dentè Pasta (Fusili preferably else Farfele would do)
1 tsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Milk
1 cube of Processed Cheese (25 gm, shredded)
2 tsp freshly chopped Basil (or 1 tsp Dried Basil)
1 tsp freshly chopped Marjoram (Marua leaves; or ½ tsp Dried Oregano)
2 tsp Tomato Ketchup
1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
½ tsp Paprika (Chilli Flakes)
1 pinch Chilli Powder
½ tsp Pepper
Salt to taste
—————————–
3-4 cloves Garlic (minced)
1 medium Onion (coarsely chopped)
250 gm Spinach leaves

-: Recipe :-

  1. Wash Spinach Leaves, squeeze water from spinach, remove stalkes and chop the leaves coarsely.
  2. Boil the Pasta to Al Dentè and keep the salted stock water.
  3. In a nonstick pan, melt butter and add olive oil. Saute Garlic, after few seconds add Onion and saute till translucent.
  4. Add the freshly chopped (or dried) Basil and Marjoram. Add Tomato Puree and stir for a few seconds.
  5. Add Spinach leaves and stir fry for 2 mins. Add a dash of the stock water in between for steaming.
  6. Add milk and stir till it starts boiling.
  7. Add cheese, salt, pepper, chilli powder and paprika and simmer well for 1 minute until cheese melts.
  8. Add Pasta in the mixture and mix well until the sauce is well absorbed and add tomato ketchup.
  9. Enjoy the Ultimate Experience 🙂

-: Tips :-

  • After taking the Al Dentè  pasta out of the colander, add some tadka in it to make it fresh and zesty. Tadka can be made by heating butter and adding few pinches of chilli powder, salt and pepper and frying that in the heated butter for a few seconds before adding that to the pasta.
  • Use pasta shapes like Fusili or Farfelle which can roll and mix well with the shredded spinach leaves. I had to use Penne as no other shape was available in home 😛
-: Pics :-
Zesty Pasta Florentine

Zesty Pasta Florentine

Posted July 31, 2011 by Rahul in Italian, Recipes

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What’s in a Name?   2 comments

Many times when we go for some gourmet eating experiences, we notice the dishes named so exotically different and complicatedly delightful at times. Whether you are making or eating Cranberry Cheese Souffle or Gnocchi (pronounced nyo-KEE) Arrabiata, the name of the dish usually gives a flight to your imagination and adds to the incredible experience. It is all the more pronounced when you have some idea about the cuisine and the dish’s name strikes some chord, bringing back fond memories, you have a feeling of pride that you know what is the thing you just ate! It therefore seems for a rich gourmet experience, restaurants who specialize in such cuisines, might be paying deliberate care and choosing names of their dishes carefully and intelligently.

I have experienced this many times when am making some dish and adding special touches to personalize it. If the dish comes good in the end, the desire to name it creatively is a part of the cooking experience. It adds to the total package what you create! Well, if unfortunately something do comes out as crap, no point wasting a good name on it 😛

This, however, has been a usual part of many of the poor experiences in various restaurants. You go to a slick looking place seemingly serving you exotic gourmet food, you see their menu, craftily designed, you order something new from your favorite cuisine and wait for it, knowing in spirit that you know what you will get! You get served something very different for some strange reason….and there goes your experience!

Case in Point: I wen’t to a restaurant last week, which gave a good feel around it and it seemed the place will have some good Italian stuff.  It was serving buffet and I was gliding through the names. I found one very tempting…Linguini Alfredo (yeah same as that of the boy in Ratatouille!). Strangely when I saw the dish, it was in no way either Linguini or at all Alfredo!!

Linguini Alfredo 

Linguini Alfredo

Fettuccine in Rosé Sauce

Fettuccine in Rosé Sauce

It was in very plain view a classic Fettuccine in Rosé Sauce!! How could anybody confuse between the two so very different dishes! It might have been a very tasty dish, but that naming glitch just provided a very bad first impression. If you just don’t know what you are making, its pretty evident you are just shooting arrows in blind alley.

Incidently I went to a high end Italian restaurant F-Lounge last week and there we find a dish named “Crest de Gallo”, its like naming your dish something like “Spaghetti” or “Penne” without using any of those!! Well, Crest de gallo is a type of pasta and anyone would assume if your dish is named that, it would contain at least few pieces of that 🙂

Posted July 22, 2011 by Rahul in Observations

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Hearty Eggless Tiramisu   Leave a comment

-:Ingredients:-

200 gm Fresh Cream
1 Tsp Vanilla Essense
1 Tbsp Powdered Sugar (or 2 tablets Sugarfree)
1 ¼ Tbsp Rum or Brandy
1-2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Water
2 Tsp Instant Coffee
3 Tbsp Sugar (or 6 tablets Sugarfree)
3 Tsp Vanilla Custard Powder
2 cups Milk
3 Tsp Gelatine (dissolved in ¼ cup Warm Water) (Optional)
1 medium sized Vanilla Sponge Cake

-: Recipe :-

  1. Mix Custard Powder with ½ cup cold Milk.
  2. Boil remaining milk and 1 Tbsp Sugar and add the custard mixture. Cook till 2-3 minutes as the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add gelatine solution. Cool and chill in the freezer.
  3. Chill the cream along with bowl and mix with Essense, 1 Tbsp Brandy/Rum and powdered sugar.
  4. Whip it using hand blender till soft peaks are formed. Beat it more using a spoon till firm peaks are forms and stop as soon as whipped cream shows granularity. Put Cream in Freezer to chill.
  5. In the whipped cream, pour the custard mixtured and fold the cream over it.
  6. Boil water and add coffee and 2 Tbsp sugar. Remove from fire and add ¼ Tbsp Brandy/Rum. Cool to room temperature.
  7. Cut the sponge cake into flat cuboidal fingers.
  8. Take a shallow serving dish and place half the fingers (soaked in coffee for 1-2 seconds) in the dish to completely cover the bottom.
  9. Pour half the cream mixture over the cake and another layer of soaked cake fingers and cream.
  10. Chill in freezer for 10-15 minutes and take it out.
  11. Level the top and sift cocoa powder using a fine seive to completely cover the top.
  12. Let it set and cool in fridge for about 3-4 hours and Enjoy the Ultimate Experience 🙂
-: Pics :-

Posted July 17, 2011 by Rahul in Italian, Recipes

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Mac’n’Gouda Florentina   Leave a comment

-:Ingredients:-

200-250 gm Al Dentè Pasta (Macaroni preferably else Penne would do)
1 Tbsp Maida (White Flour)
1 Tbsp Flour (Wheat Flour)
2 ½ Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 ½ cup Milk
1 cube finely grated Processed Cheese (25 gm)
1 cup coarsly grated Gouda Cheese
¼ cup finely grated Gouda Cheese
Salt to taste
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Dried Parsely
1 tsp Pasta Seasoning
1 tsp Paprika (Chilli Flakes)
½ cup Fresh Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Tomato Ketchup
Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
—————————–
100 gm Sweet American Corn
2 medium Onions (coarsely chopped)
1-2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
100 gm Mushrooms (5-6 cut into small pieces) (Optional)
¼ Small Green Capsicum (coarsely chopped)
¼ Small Yellow Capsicum (coarsley chopped)
2 Small Tomatos (coarsely chopped)
100 gm Olives (thinly sliced or chopped) (Optional)
350 gm Spinach Leaves

-: Recipe :-

  1. Boil the Pasta to Al Dentè and keep the salted stock water.
  2. Cook and Wash Spinach Leaves in the boiling stock water for 1 minute and take it out. Squeeze water from spinach, remove stalkes and chop the leaves finely.
  3. Mix processed cheese with chopped spinach and keep aside.
  4. In a nonstick pan, melt 1 Tbsp butter and add olive oil. Saute Onion till translucent adding both the capcisums and minced garlic in the meanwhile.
  5. Add maida and flour and fry on low heat for 1 minute.
  6. Gradually add the milk and mix till smooth and no lumps remain.
  7. Add Pasta Seasoning, Paprika Flakes, Sweet Corn, Olives, Mushrooms and Tomatoes in the mixture.
  8. Heat on medium till mixture starts boiling and add 1 cup coarsly grated Gouda Cheese and salt and ½ Tsp pepper and simmer well for 1 minute until cheese melts. Add a pinch of Nutmeg in the mixture.
  9. Add the Pasta in the mixture and mix well until the sauce is well absorbed and add parsely and tomato ketchup.
  10. In a microwave safe bowl, rub the sides and base with olive oil. Add ½ the mixture, layer it with the Spinach Mixture and add the remaining half on top of it.
  11. Melt 1 ½ Tbsp Butter and drizzle it over the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Add ¼ cup finely grated Gouda Cheese and sprinkle salt and ½ Tsp Pepper.
  12. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs mixture over the pasta evenly.
  13. Pre-Heat Microwave on convection mode @ 250C for 3 minutes.
  14. Put the bowl in Microwave and bake on Convection mode @ 250C for 15 minutes.
  15. Enjoy the Ultimate Experience 🙂
-: Pics :-

Posted July 17, 2011 by Rahul in Italian, Recipes

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Casserole Pasta   1 comment

-:Ingredients:-

250-300 gm Al Dentè Pasta (Penne preferably else Farfele would do)
1 Tbsp Maida (White Flour)
1 Tbsp Cornflour
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Milk
3 cubes of Processed Cheese (25 gm each)
Salt to taste
½ tsp Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Pasta Seasoning
2 Tbsp Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Tomato Ketchup
½ tsp Mustard Sauce
—————————–
100 gm Brocolli (5-6 florets cut down to small bite size florets)
100 gm Sweet American Corn
100 gm Baby Corn (7-8 slit lengthwise and cut in half)
1 medium Onion (coarsely chopped)
100 gm Mushroom (5-6 cut in small pieces)
½ Small Green Capsicum (coarsely chopped)
¼ Small Yellow Capsicum (coarsley chopped)
1 medium Carrot (chopped)

: Recipe :-

  1. Boil the Pasta to Al Dentè and keep the stock water.
  2. Boil all the vegetables in the stock water for 5 minutes and store 1 cup of the vegetable stock, drain the remaining water.
  3. In a nonstick pan, melt butter and add olive oil. Add maida and cornflour and fry on low heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and milk and mix till smooth and no lumps remain.
  5. Heat on medium till thick and smooth and add 1/3rd cheese and salt and pepper and simmer well for 1 minute.
  6. Add the boiled vegetables and pasta and mix over low heat. Add oregano and 1 tsp Pasta Seasoning. Add Ketup and Mustard Sauce and mix well.
  7. In a microwave safe bowl, rub the sides and base with olive oil. Add the mixture till brim and sprinkle on top the remaining 2/3rd cheese and the remaining 1 tsp Pasta Seasoning and Sprinkle the dry breadcrumbs on top.
  8. Pre-Heat Microwave on convection mode @ 250C for 3 minutes.
  9. Put the bowl in Microwave and bake on Convection mode @ 250C for 15 minutes.
  10. Enjoy the Ultimate Experience 🙂
-: Pics :-

Posted July 17, 2011 by Rahul in Italian, Recipes

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Sunway Lagoon   Leave a comment

-:Ingredients:-

5-6 Green Grapes
1 Tsp Rose Syrup
½ Tsp Lemon Juice
¼ Tsp Butterscotch Powder (Optional)
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
¼ Cup Mango Juice
1 Cup Cold Water
1 Slice of Lemon

: Recipe :-

  1. Cut the Grapes in half and put in a tall glass.
  2. Add the rose syrup and lemon juice and mix it well.
  3. Put the slice of lemon and pour chilled pineapple juice over it.
  4. Add cold water and finish it with the chilled mango juice.
  5. Garnish it with Butterscotch Powder and Enjoy the Ultimate Experience 🙂

Posted July 17, 2011 by Rahul in Recipes

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Taste vs Texture   Leave a comment

An old article which I wrote a year back during my MBA @ IIM Ahmedabad “Taste vs Texture

Which should be the most important criteria for Food Quality – Taste or Texture?

I always ask people, what is more important in checking quality of food: Taste or Texture. Taste of course!! Spat comes the reply.

Texture according to me is the first thing that comes to mind when evaluating any food product. It is one of the most important attributes used by consumers to assess food quality. Taste always comes secondary. When a person evaluates the quality of food, the first thing that makes an impression on his psyche is the externality professed by the item. Texture of food items also called “Mouthfeel” is a product’s physical feel in the mouth and even outside it, when you look at it, smell it or even envision it. Sometimes perception of taste is even disguised by its texture e.g. Wines, which are usually graded on its quality more by texture than taste.

It has been researched that when consumers eat, the quality is more subtly defined by how the food feels outside and inside the mouth. Cohesiveness, gumminess, crispiness, mouth-coating, graininess, smoothness, uniformity etc. are some of its manifestations which the people analyse sub-consciously when eating.

Taste is more often than not, dependent on the no. of taste buds you have. A person may like a particular food’s taste and the other may darn well reject it as filth. There cannot be a consistent taste quality assurance criteria related to food. However, regarding texture, it is more of feel of food that comes out which is sub-conscious in nature along with numerous testing methodologies like NMR, Spectroscopy etc.

I would take two examples for my point. First is regarding 5 star hotels. Whenever you go to a 5 star hotel, you always find it wanting on taste of food. Invariably, the taste of road-side vendors’ food is much better than the 5 star food. What than sets it apart?? Yes, its quality manifested in its world class texture and aesthetic appeal. The best thing there is the food looks way better and feels way better than the one you see on road side. And do you say the quality of food is better in hotels or road-side?

Second example is regarding health-foods and regionally abundant food items. Typical example is bland food items like chauli, gawarfali, lauki etc. These don’t provide taste per say and are often advised to be eaten without enhancements. Now, how do you choose between different vendors providing the same item: Great, How the food feels and looks! That is the first impression of food you get, which you associate with quality, however, taste comes in picture now, because it’s like a brand which you consciously develop in your own pretty mind, but it never should be a criteria for quality (There however are few differentiated food item categories where the tastes are so well standardized that it evolves as quality criterion).

In conclusion I would say that when you prepare a dish, make sure it looks good and feels good, coz’ even if it tastes divine but looks horrible, people just won’t touch it!

Posted July 17, 2011 by Rahul in Food Quality, Observations

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