Honeydew melon & cucumber gazpacho

Who goes and puts honeydew melon in a soup, right? Sounds bizarre. If you feel the same way, I wouldn’t blame you. But..I like bizarre. And this gazpacho is kind of just that.

I’ve tried very hard to visually capture the exact texture of this soup, but I’m not sure if I’ve done a good enough job at it. Have you ever tried making honeydew melon, mango or even papaya juice? They blend well and get velvety and smooth, but it’s not the same consistency as you’d find in say, watermelon juice. It’s pulpier. That’s what the consistency of this gazpacho is like. It’s denser than any other soup I’ve made – even withstood the cucumber slices that I used as garnish!

Traditionally, gazpacho was made by hand pounding green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, vinegar, olive oil and seasonings. Stale bread soaked in water is a popular addition, which purists claim to be the ‘superior’ version. This is the kind that you’d most likely encounter in Andalusia (south of Spain), which also happens to be where this dish originates from. But as is the case with the evolution of food habits, people living in other areas came up with their own intra-regional versions of the gazpacho with the ingredients that they had ready access to, and tweaking it to fit their palates. Some would make them without the bread, while white gazpachos have no tomatoes; they have pine nuts or almonds instead. There are now over hundreds, if not thousands of variations for it!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a glorified smoothie. It does look like it, doesn’t it? Sautéed onions and garlic with a kick of chilli form its base, before the fresh melon and cucumbers are added in. I would strongly recommend a dash of fiery Tabasco over the top for that extra pizazz! Summery, velvety, bizarre..all pulverized together to give you this perfect chilled soup.

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Yogurt syllabub

I know it sounds like I just made this word up! Syllabub is an English dessert that’s made with milk that’s been curdled either with wine or any other form of acid before being flavoured and sweetened. I’ve used yogurt here which we know has already undergone that process, so it’s essentially just a flavoured yogurt, but a far cry from the ones that you might be used to eating. I mean, how many times have you mixed red wine into it?

In England, Syllabub also apparently goes by the names ‘solybubbe’,’sullabub’,’sullibib’,’sullybub’, or ‘sullibub’. I just read that sentence out loud and it seriously sounded like my fish when he asks for food!

Stewing the fruit is a popular idea with syllabub, and that’s exactly what I had intended to do when I started out making this. It’s only when I began slicing into the figs, I realized that they didn’t have to undergo any transformation to make this dessert delicious. If you’d like to stew them instead, just sprinkle some brown sugar on the figs and cook until tender. I’d add a pinch of cinnamon too for good measure if I were you.

This low-fat dessert uses just a handful of ingredients, is healthy, and chock full of nutrients from every component. The fact that it takes no more than 10 minutes to whip up is just another reason why I’m all over it. You could use whatever fruit you have on hand – I always seem to have a few fresh figs lying around, but I have no doubt that it will work exceptionally well with strawberries, oranges, or apples too.

The addition of pomegranate seeds and pistachio slivers give this dessert a bit of a Turkish / Mediterranean feel, and the wine and orange zest take you down the mulled wine route. You could say that it’s a bit of a (con)fusion, but it definitely has its charms.

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Passion fruit cordial

My parents lived in the outskirts of the city in our farmhouse for a few years, while I was studying in boarding school. Even though I never got to be home for long periods of time at a stretch, I clearly remember really looking forward to going back there for the holidays.

Our house had a large plot of land at the back where we had teak plantations, and the front overlooked a lush rose garden, courtesy of my mom’s green thumb. It was everything you’d picture a farm-house to be – a kitchen garden, vast untouched spaces, huge shady trees that were planted during my grandfather’s times, the works. We had turkeys, guinea fowl, and my dad even bought these funny looking chickens from somewhere, that looked like they had furry socks on their feet!

But my favourite part of it all was an old elevated pond nestled under a huge mango tree, which was spruced up and made into a dip pool! Big enough for four people to wade around comfortably in (when my dog decided to give us the space that is!). I’d sit there every evening, until my feet and hands got wrinkly from being completely saturated with water.

Right. I’m going to start talking about what this story has to do with passion fruit cordial (!) in just a second after I slowly ease out of my reverie. Yes. So, we had a long barbed wire fence that ran along the side of the house with a tangled mess of passion fruit vines trailing over them. They were almost always laden with fruit and their beautiful flowers (picture above) that look like something straight out of Avatar! I remember every bit of that excitement as I waited for the fruits to go yellow from green, and it always tasted best when you got to pick them yourself. Sweet nostalgia.

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Cinnamon French toast with stewed apples

I think this is my first breakfast dish on here. Which when I think about, doesn’t make any sense since I’m that person that loves to eat breakfast foods at any time of the day. No strict time restrictions in my head. A full English breakfast for lunch? Oh yes, please. Dosa for dinner? Hell yeah!

My mum has a recipe for stewed plums with cinnamon that I absolutely adore. Her version doesn’t have maple syrup, just caramelized sugar and the plums tossed in it. I decided to do mine with apples since, um, I didn’t have any plums on hand.

We usually end up eating (read binge-ing) out on the weekends, so all the week’s supply of groceries are exhausted by then, and all that’s left are some scraggly bits of odds and ends that get tossed into the juicer come Monday morning. So when I announced to my husband on Friday night that I’d be making something ‘different’ for breakfast the next day, I honestly didn’t have a plan in mind. Remember I told you that I’m the lady with a never-ending supply of eggs? (I realize how that sounds). Yeah, so I wasn’t too worried.

Apples and cinnamon are a match made in heaven. The French toast, golden on the outside with a slight squidge in the centre makes it so worth waking up to. And it’s easy on the maker too, with no more than 15 minutes for all the elements combined. The ultimate breakfast of champions. We did follow through on the rest of our weekend theme though, and lounged in our pyjamas all day watching mindless TV. No frills, and just perfect!

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Lime & Basil Iced tea

I have an affinity for iced teas. Living in a city with soaring temperatures and oppressive humidity all year round, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. My favourite would have to be the plain lemon iced tea closely followed by this peach version, but of late I’ve been trying a few other variations as well.

This lime and basil tea might sound a bit ordinary, but the basil is steeped in the brewing tea which gives it a bit of a Moroccan – albeit with basil instead of mint – twist. Which contrarily makes me feel all tropical too, and I like that feeling. I’m sitting here right now by the bay window that overlooks our lawn, sipping on a glass of this as I type..it’s the closest I can get to lying in a hammock.

I bought some basil last week for this bruschetta, but ended up using only a few sprigs for it. Herbs never last when refrigerated, so I had to come up with a plan to use them up before they started to dry up and wilt. Seeing that I had had some good luck with propagating mint from cuttings (new post coming up on that soon – watch this space), I decided to give basil a shot as well.

A week in a glass jar with the only task of changing up the water on a daily basis and making sure they got ample sunlight (not direct), they have now started to develop roots! I almost yelped with joy! Superstitious or not, I’m going to take that as a good sign for our new home. In fact, the basil flowers that I’ve used here are from the mother plant, which is getting accustomed to its new environment quite nicely.

Even though this iced tea of basil and lime lacks in quintessential authenticity, it definitely makes up every bit of it in flavour. The essence of comfort and summer in every sip.

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Apple tarte tatin & an anniversary

I know I’m treading on the territory of culinary arrogance when I say this, but I don’t understand why the Tarte Tatin has been regarded as an insurmountable feat for an amateur cook. Sure, the caramel is a blink-and-it’s burnt kind of ordeal but other than that, it’s literally just some minor pastry action (shop-bought one at that), apple slicing, baking (which the oven does for you) and finally flipping onto your serving dish. One of the lesser evils of French pâtisserie, if you ask me. Having said that though, this is probably the farthest I’d venture into that world, precision in cooking not being my biggest virtue.

The apples and sugar together feel like we’re going down the apple pie route and although I wouldn’t dismiss that idea, this sure does feel different. In a hoity toity chef-y kind of way. With a rustic more-ish charm to it. It’s all encompassing and completely undeniable.

Quickly want to point out the changes that I made to the original recipe : I added a vanilla pod to the caramel as it was cooking down (because that just seemed like the right thing to do). The cooking times have also been altered, and my guess is that yours will be different from mine too).

In other news, today marks the first anniversary of this tiny little part of my world here. Truth be told, when I first started, I had no idea what I was doing and literally dove into it blind (which is obvious with the pictures from the first few posts) and unprepared. But looking back, I can definitely say that it’s been a lot of fun and a great way of connecting with you guys. Thank you for all the love and support!

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Spiced baked figs with Vanilla mascarpone

I’ve recently discovered a part of myself that I never knew existed..an inherent need, a kind of maternal instinct if you will, to feed my family with an extra dose of fruit and vegetables. I’m not getting ahead of myself here, I’m still talking mascarpone, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be the kind of mum who will conceal a few pieces of broccoli under a blanket of melted cheese, make sweets out of dried fruits, or just..hide figs under some mascarpone. I try. (My dear husband is the fruit ninja in question here). Enough practice for when we have little ones of our own!

This dessert is simple enough to be called a weekday dessert, and at the same time looks super extravagant to be a party piece. The figs retain and hold their shape when baked, and the honey and cinnamon form an oozy syrup to be poured over the top for extra flavour. The mascarpone, slightly tart, gives you the perfect balance in every bite.

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