Friends with benefits : GREEK QUINOA SALAD

I’m a salad girl. No, not the kind that would go to a restaurant and pick on some greenage for a meal (hell no) but definitely one that would get it as a side. That kind of salad girl.

I had my first taste of Quinoa about a month ago. Until then, this obscure little South American grain was just one of those highly priced exotic items that was never on my shopping list. I had no clue what to do with it either. And then, Bobby Flay happened. I stumbled upon his recipe for ‘Greek Quinoa salad’ on a website and loved the flavours he was playing with. Mine, however, is a bit more adventurous with the addition of honey in the vinaigrette, char-grilled peppers, and capers. I love the smoky-sweetness that complements the Quinoa wonderfully. If you have some fresh figs on hand, throw them in there too!

Although not very closely associated with its North African counterpart Couscous in terms of origin, I think it could act as a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on Quinoa. Also, Bulgur wheat is another option you could try.

Incorporating this wonder grain in your salad is a good way to get your daily dose of protein and it makes for a good foundation, especially if this dish is going to double up as a meal in itself. Which by the way, it totally could. This salad is one of those foods that is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts. Healthy and delicious! Hence the title reference. Continue reading

Perfect with a cuppa : CHOCOLATINES

Is there anything better than a warm buttery croissant? Well actually, there is. Meet the Chocolatine (also called Pain au chocolat). Traditionally made in a shape that’s more cylindrical than crescent/crab-like, these delights are what got me through many a rough library night back in Uni. Scrambling to finish cramming a whole semester’s worth of notes in one night, and craving that cure-all reward for your efforts..I think we’ve all been there. My said reward was almost always in the form of a warm chocolatine from a bakery right across the library I used to go to. Coupled with a hot mug of cinnamon hot chocolate. Bliss.

I knew instantly that I wanted my chocolatines to be replicas of these. I’d set the bar too high for myself on this one. I am a complete novice when it comes to bread-making, so you might think it absurd to be attempting to make croissants of all things for a start! However, I’ve used store-bought puff pastry sheets for this one – a cheat’s version, and one that I’m very proud of. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d love to try my hand at making these bad boys from scratch at some point, but ‘knead’less to say, I’m pretty stoked at how this turned out, and at how I managed to make this a yeast-meets-west story.. I’m on a roll here! Continue reading

Pastéis de nata : PORTUGUESE TARTS

On a bit of a whim, I decided to make tarts. Portuguese style. Speaking of whims, I also ended up indulging in three of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks. Known for his clever twists on re-creating classics in record time, it didn’t seem like the best idea to play around with one of his recipes. But I did. And as Jamie would say, “It was bloody brilliant!” I think some rules were made just to be broken, really.

Having spent the better part of the day watching sophisticated, intellectual TV shows (Ok fine, it was Breaking Bad), I was in the mood to take a page out of Jamie’s mind and make something special for the family. The recipe looked fairly simple, but I certainly judged this book by its cover – the pastry twisting technique that is used for Portuguese tart making is easy to do, but not really possible to get right with the size of pastry sheets that I had access to (mine were too small, and hence the surface area wasn’t quite enough) What I ended up with was a sticky ball of goop stuck to the bottom of the tray. Improvisation – I just laid out a single pastry sheet cut a little bigger than the size of an individual muffin hole, and voilà! Pastry sorted. For the custard topping, instant custard powder and milk did the trick; that leaves us with a healthier option too, since the crème fraîche is out of the equation. That one just landed in my lap!

Here is my recipe, but feel free to do as I did and go with your own sense of what will work for you. Continue reading