Thursday, 30 January 2014

Gift for Valentine's Day - Not Just Chocolates!!

It’s often said, “love your lady just as you love chocolates”. This Valentine’s day hunt for something more than chocolates. What about gifting her some alcoholic chocolates?? Chocolates is something any girl can fall for and adding some dizzy alcohol will double the romantic date. With the box of chocolates in one hand and a rose in the other, will cheer her up definitely. So what are you waiting for?? It’s the perfect gift for your Valentine.
Brandy Chocolate - Brandy filled chocolate assorted gift box is the best you can give your love if she chooses brandy as her all time favorite liquor. Brandy is a spirit that is composed of distilling wine. Salted caramel with brandy and cardamom is the most tempting flavored brandy chocolate. Known and loved by Europeans and Americans, this chocolate is the best, one can make out of brandy and chocolate blend. The mild cardamom flavor is very enticing and soothing for your taste buds.

Whiskey chocolate - Pairing chocolate with whiskey is an interesting soothing exercise, since it is an assault on all your senses. Swiss chocolate when combined with whiskey forms the best chocolate bar ever. Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it's time to drink. So gaze at your lady, driving her crazy and offering her yet crazy whiskey chocolates. Superb Whiskey combinations are:-
  • Cacao dark chocolate and Old Irish Whiskey,
  • Milk chocolate and Rye Whiskey,
  • Milk chocolate with almonds and Scotch Whiskey,
  • Cacao spiced chocolate and Scotch Whiskey
Vodka Chocolate - Vodka chocolates can be combined with flavors offering varied and intoxicating thrill. The flavors include raspberry, strawberry, blueberry and nuts like almond and cashew nuts. Not to a surprise, vodka chocolates are amazing when blended with cayenne pepper and bacon. Dark chocolates sync very well with any superior brand of vodka to ultimately satisfy your sweet tooth. Variety of colors like pink, violet or red can be added to white chocolates, if one opts for a sweeter taste. Marshmallow skewers with melted chilli vodka chocolate is all time favorite for any vodka and chocolate lover.

Wine Chocolate - Love is like wine, you know it's good when it gets better with time. Chocolates are very well designed to complement wine. If you are a real wine lover and love to pair wine with appetizers or main course, you'll simply fall in love with these chocolates. Various known brands consisting of beautiful gift hampers are available in the market. There are various types of wine like red wine, white wine, rose wine, sparkling wine, fortified wine that span from rich and creamy to light and zesty flavor. These wines when added to chocolates will simply make your love irresistible. 
Beer chocolate - Beer Chocolate comes in four flavors. Each chocolate pairs very well with the perfect beer. Types of beer chocolates:-
  • White Beer Chocolate - White beer chocolate is a caramel that is flavored with an IPA (India Pale Ale) and covered by white chocolate. IPA is a hoppy beer style that falls under the pale ale.
  • Raspberry Dark Chocolate - This chocolate is flavored with a Belgian raspberry. The acid nature of beers blends perfectly with raspberries. Rich aroma with delicate palate of raspberries. Yummzzz!!
  • Lager Milk chocolates - Boston style lager caramel is covered with milk chocolate.
  • Stout Dark Chocolate - This is flavored caramel surrounded by dark chocolate. Stout is a dark beer made up of roasted malt or barley, hops, water and yeast.
Rum Balls - Rum balls are the perfect heaven for adult indulgence. These sweet and mushy no-bake balls are mixture of crushed cookie crumbs, cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, light corn syrup and rum. We can use both dark and light rum. One can purchase these chocolate rum balls and also prepare the same at home. There are ample of ways to garnish rum balls. They can be dipped in melted chocolate, dark or white, depending on the choice.  We can roll them in confectioners sugar, cocoa powder or even finely chopped nuts for an absolute nutty taste. Pecans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts or pistachios are widely used to give these balls, a yet richy rich taste.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Valentine’s Day Special Mozzarella Cheese Filled Hearts

On the Valentine’s Day, I’ll love to give all the time to my love. Spending too much time in the kitchen that evening would certainly ruin the perfect date. I’ve found out a delectable pesto treat for my love, so that i can have some quality time. Pesto can be made a few days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. Special Mozzarella cheese filled hearts would be the perfect bitings to start with. The heart shape appetizers will melt his heart after a tiring day at office. With lots of hugs and kisses, celebrate this Valentine’s Day with perfect appetizers, Mozzarella Cheese Filled Hearts.

For Cheese Filled Hearts:-

1 refrigerated pie crust thawed,
1/4 inch mozzarella cheese slices,
1 egg white,
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese,
flour for dusting.

For Roasted Red Pepper Pesto:-

12 ounce roasted red peppers,
1 teaspoon minced roasted garlic ,
2 ounces chopped roasted and salted almonds,
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley,
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice,
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese,
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
pepper to taste,
salt to taste.

Preparation method:-

1. Unroll pie crust onto a large cutting board.  Cut 24 hearts using the larger heart cutter, re-rolling dough as needed.

2. Cut 12 hearts using the smaller heart cutter out of the mozzarella cheese slices.

3. Brush egg white over one dough heart, place a mozzarella cheese heart in the center.

4. Top it with a second dough heart, press the edges of the dough together. Repeat the process.

5. Crimp edges of hearts with a fork. Brush tops of ravioli with egg white.  

6. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the tops of each heart

7. Freeze hearts for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 D F and make pesto.

8. Puree roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, roasted almonds, parsley, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

9. Add oil and puree just to incorporate the oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into a small serving bowl.  

10. The pesto can be made up to a few days ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator.

11. Remove the hearts from the freezer and bake for 12 minutes until golden brown.

12. Be careful while baking. If the cheese begins to ooze out of the pie crust hearts, remove them from the oven.

13. Serve hot with marinara sauce.
Perfect Valentine’s day appetizers to start with!!!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Modern Microwave Oven and Ancient Baking

Oven is the heart and soul of baking process. The best way to judge the quality of oven is the cake it bakes. Initially cakes were crude in texture, not very soft or spongy. Time management had been a problem. Hygiene was a problem as well. Modern cakes have crisp base and are creamy and mushy from inside.

Ancient ovens

Egyptians were the first people to manufacture oven, the portable one. It consisted of beehive or barrel-shaped container made up of baked clay. It was divided into two parts with central horizontal partition. The upper part was called the baking chamber. The lower section consisted of fire box. Animal dung or dried wooden sticks or chopped logs are burnt to carry on the baking process. 

Jewish used the same oven but it was made up of hollowed stones. Instead of placing the baking mixture at the bottom, like the Egyptians, Jewish stuck it on the walls of oven with damp sticky edible material till the dough was totally cooked (baked). Still these ovens are found in rural areas used for making delectable recipes.

Dutch ovens

These ovens were used in early 90’s. After ancient ovens, with the advent of gas, cast iron dutch ovens and aluminum dutch ovens, the two oven varieties, gained popularity.

Cast Iron Oven
Aluminum Oven
Very heavy
Very light
Heats evenly and slowly
Heats and cools fast
Slow and even cooking
Quick risky cooking
Does not melt on fire
Melts on fire
Season to prevent rusting
Does not rust
Don’t use soap water
Use soap water

During the middle age, instead of earth and ceramic ovens, people used fire places along with large cauldrons. They were similar to the Dutch oven. During middle age, ovens underwent number of changes with time from wood, iron, coal, gas, and even electricity.

Modern ovens

Modern ovens have become more advanced in terms of cooking strategy. The microwave was discovered by Percy Spencer in 1946.

With the help of engineers, the microwave oven was patented. The microwave oven uses microwave radiation. This excites the molecules in food causing friction, and therefore it produces heat. So make and bake the trendy way!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Food Psychology

In my last blog post “Food That Defines You”, we discussed about how some food items get annealed with your personality so well that people start ordering before you could utter a word to the waiter. Some food items get into our subconscious and become an integral part of our personality.

Food Attitude and Culture

Now taking the relationship of food and psychology further, let me share some intriguing facts or psychological observations that will force you to think. Besides, geography and cultural settings do have a big impact on people’s attitude towards food. Americans, for instance, aren’t very interested in satiating their taste buds, but are more preoccupied with whether the food is healthy or not. On the other hand, French are more obsessed with the taste of the food. In their quest of the healthiest foods, Americans make frequent changes in their diet-plans, and hence become more prone to obesity than French. 

Are You Full? Think Again
Another interesting fact about fooding is that we believe that we eat till the time our stomach is full. Partially true. Actually, a lot depends on the size of plates, serving spoons, bowls, etc. Your stomach only sends you crude messages about your intake. If the size of the bowl is big, there are favorable chances that you eat more than usual. So next time you hit the grocery store, make sure you buy mid-sized bowls and plates. 

It’s Not Just Lunch with Ex

Now, lets talk about the most important part of the day’s meal – Lunch. According to a study, called “It’s Not Just Lunch, Extra-Pair Commensality Can Trigger Sexual Jealousy” by Kniffin and Wansink, when its about ex-romantic mates, having a lunch sparks more jealousy in both men and women than telephonic conversations or coffee. So next time, if you want you plan a secretive lunch with your ex, think again.

These are just glimpses of how crazily different and interesting the food world actually is. As promised earlier, we’ll keep bringing such interesting stuff related to food to you. Stay tuned!!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Happy Australia Day with Beef in Red Wine Gravy

Australia Day emphasizes on celebrating the past, present and future of the country. The auspicious day is accompanied by awards, celebrations, programmes and events. The shops are full of deals, specials, discounts and coupons. So why not celebrate the day with refreshing cocktails and rich creamy dishes plus delights?? Here we have the thick gravy sumptuous beef recipe all cooked in luscious red wine to double the spirit of the day. The slow cooking dish when blended with spices and red wine, brings the best of red meaty taste. 


1 kg steak sirloin,
3 onions chopped,
2 capsicum chopped,
200 gm Portobello mushrooms chopped,
50 gm snow peas,
400 gm cream of mushroom soup,
400 gm mushrooms in butter sauce,
150 ml red wine,
1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic,
1/2 teaspoon parsley,
1/2 teaspoon basil,
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper,
2 cups warm water,
4 cubes beef stock,
3 tablespoons cornflour,
seasoning to taste,
salt to taste

Preparation Method:-

1. Trim and cut the meat then season with seasoning to taste. Cover with plastic wrap, seal well and set aside in refrigerator until needed.

2. Grease a large roasting dish with some oil. Place chopped onions in the roasting dish.

3. Add capsicums, mushrooms and snow peas scattered to cover the dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

4. Place beef spaced evenly on top. In a large jug add the red wine, soup, tinned mushrooms, garlic, parsley, basil, pepper, salt and warm water.

5. Mix well and pour into the roasting dish. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven at 190 D C for 1 hour.

6. Mix beef stock and cornflour with some water to make a thick paste then add stirring well into the roasting dish turning all contents.

7. Return to the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes then uncover stir contents and cook uncovered for a further 15 minutes.

8. Serve with hot steamed rice!!!

Happy Australia Day!!!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Australia Day Cocktails

Celebrating Australia Day, falling on January 26, with cocktails, shots and punches is a great idea. Here we bring you with more of refreshing drinks to enjoy the day to the fullest with your pals.
Fruit Tingle
Pour Curacao over ice in a glass. Add raspberry cordial and lemonade simultaneously to combined the effect. Served in a old-fashioned glass. Simple yet a party drink!!!

Blood Orange Cosmopolitan
Add vodka, lime juice and cranberry juice. Use one dash of bitters into a Martini glass. Add Ice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Top with blood orange soda. Party bloody hard with Blood Orange Soda!!!
Vodka infused Watermelon
Simply cut a hole in the top of watermelon, the size of spoon. Scoop out a little bit of the watermelon and make in room for the vodka bottle. Place the bottle upside down in the hole. Allow the vodka to be fully absorbed by watermelon. Place the watermelon in the fridge to chill. Then cut into pieces and serve. Enjoy the chilled Vodka infused Watermelon!!!

Midori Splice
Add in equal quantity of melon liqueur, coconut rum and pineapple juice. Top with fresh cream. Served in a Collins glass!!!

Cosmopolitan Cocktail
Combine lime juice, Triple Sec, cranberry juice, citrus vodka juice in equal quantity. Add citrus vodka a bit more. Add in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and dance, pour into a cocktail glass. Top with ice. Garnish with a lime twist!!

Ocean Breeze
Feel the motion in ocean with tickling sensation made up of melon liqueur, raspberry vodka, pineapple and cranberry juice. Add in equal quantities. Top with ice cubes in collins glass. Add cherry and cheer!!!

Squashed Frog
Pour Midori and then Advocaat over it in a glass. Add a few dashes of grenadine. Then float Bailey’s on top. It's best in the shot glass.

Hot Lips Punch
Groove with steamy tipple of melon liqueur, dark rum and cranberry juice. You can't stop without saying ‘one more’. Ultimate lip therapy!!!

Lime Mojito
Add mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a glass. Crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, crush again to release the lime juice. Keep the mixture as such. Add in ice. Pour rum over the ice filling the glass with soda water. Garnish with a lime wedge!!!

Mix in equal quantity of apricot brandy, yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, sugar syrup. Add in egg white (1 egg). Shake without ice to emulsify egg. Add ice and shake vigorously, strain into a cocktail glass. Serve drink in a cocktail glass for the cocktail party. Party all night!!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Vegetables Stir-Fry with Tofu

Vegetables are often paired with the word ‘boring’. But this is not the case always. We have the very savory veggie and tofu blend to cheer up the vegetarians. Non vegetarians can add diced chicken instead of tofu. The vegetables have rich nutritional value. Seasonal vegetables boost up the fitness freaks. Tofu has low fat, low cholesterol and complements variety of curries and salads. It is easy to digest as well. The soya sauce adds mood to the food. Both fitness person and foodaholics can relish the dish. So say hello to taste and health with Vegetables Stir-Fry with Tofu.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil,
3 Cups seasonal vegetables diced,
1/2 Medium sliced onion,
2 Cloves chopped garlic,
1 Tablespoon chopped ginger root,
16 Ounce diced tofu,
1/2 Cup water,
4 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar,
2 Tablespoons honey,
2 Tablespoons soy sauce,
2 Teaspoons dissolved cornstarch,
2 Tablespoons water

Preparation method:-

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Stir in onions and cook for one minute.

2. Stir in garlic and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tofu, and cook until golden brown.

3. Stir in carrots, bell pepper and baby corn, cooking for 2 minutes. Stir in bok choy, mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and crushed red pepper, and heat through.

4. Remove from heat. In a small saucepan, combine water, rice wine vinegar, honey, and soy sauce, and bring to a simmer.

5. Cook for two minutes, then stir in cornstarch and water mixture. Simmer until sauce thickens.

6. Pour sauce over vegetables and tofu. Garnish with scallions.

7. Serve hot with steamed rice. 

 Enjoy more of easy to make, bake and yummy, rich recipes. Just 13 days left for the surprise!!!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Vegan and Vegetarian Diet

Vegan or Vegetarian sounds so similar!! But there are differences and similarities as well. Let’s check it out!!

Vegetarian consume vegetables. They do not eat meat, fish or poultry. They tend to consume dairy product such as milk, cheese, butter and curd. Vegetarians do not eat products that contain gelatine or other meat-based products. 

There is another class under vegetarians called lacto-vegetarians. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and curd. Ovo-vegetarians, on the other hand eat eggs but not dairy products. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians consume eggs as well as dairy products.
Vegans do not consume dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and curd. A vegan point of view is that animals should not be exploited in any manner. They strictly do not eat meat, fish or poultry. Vegans do not eat honey as well as it is derived from honey bees. 

Vegans do not wear any clothes made up of animal skin or fur, neither do they wear leather shoes or woolen cardigans . They do not believe in commercializing animals in any ways. According to them, this is inhumane. Alanis Morissette, the famous pop rock singer and songwriter in the United States, is a vegan. Greg Chappell, the famous former Australian Cricketer, is a strict vegan. Vegan and vegetarian have a lot in common, yet they are so different.
Nutritional fact:- From the nutrition point of view, since vegans do not consume any of the dairy related product, they need to take vitamin B12 and supplement for amino acids.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Lantern Festival and Tangyuan Yummzz

The Chinese Festival, called the Lantern Festival falls on January, 15 according to the lunar calendar. As indicated by the name, this festival is accompanied by beautifully designed and decorated lanterns. In olden days, lanterns were pretty simple but today they consist of classic designs including those of animal shapes. Lanterns symbolize that people should forget their past problems and start the new year with a brand new begining with good deeds. The red lantern color indicates good fortune. But as we know that any festival is incomplete without food, Tangyuan is the traditional chinese sumptuous recipe that is served on this auspicious occasion.

Tangyuan is made up of glutinous rice flour, which is the main ingredient. It may be stuffed or unfilled. Unfilled Tangyuan are sweet dumplings. The rice flour is mixed with a small amount of water. Balls are formed from it and cooked. Balls may be big or small. They are served in boiling water. It can be eaten during following fests and occasions as well:-

  • Chinese Winter Solstice Festival
  • family/relatives re-union
  • Wedding and ring ceremony
  • Chinese New Year
Variant names:-
  • yuanxiao (this is derived from Yuanxiao Festival)
  • tangyuan or tangtuan
  • round dumplings in soup
Southern Chinese usually eat sweet dumplings with filling that consists of sugar,  osmanthus flowers, sweet bean paste, sesame etc. Northern Chinese prefer to have salty dumplings consisting of minced vegetables and meat. Tangyuan can be paired with the following:-
  • Red bean soup
  • Black sesame soup
  • Ginger and rock sugar

Since ancient times, the preparation method of this dish vary though it's chiefly consumed on Lantern festival in the same country. Tangyuan was traditionally white in color. Later on flavors were added to it on customer demand, making the recipe even more tempting and delectable. Yet few of them relish in their form and color.

Sweet filling consists of:-
  • Peanut butter and sugar
  • Chopped peanuts and sugar
  • Red bean paste
  • Crushed sugarcane rock candy
  • Sesame and sugar paste

Asian supermarkets in China and other places produce Tangyuan that comes under frozen food section. Tangyuan is widely associated with  Winter Solstice and Chinese New Year in China as well as other parts of Asia like Japan etc.