When all else fails, CHEESE.

​When all else fails, Cheese ! 


It’s been raining non stop, & the weather’s so nice & cool. Perfect for a day long Baking session. I made grand plans for the day! 

First up, kneading the bread dough, as it would take the longest to ferment. That done, I left the sourdough to ferment. Then got on with marinating some chicken, which I later planned to bake along with thin slices of potato, onion, cream & cheese. Marination done, I turned to the fermented dough, shaped & scored  a lovely french baguette, & put it in the oven to bake. 

Within 20 minutes the aroma of freshly baked bread was wafting through the kitchen. So now it was the Chicken that had to go in, to bake. Layers of thinly sliced potatoes, onion, chicken, herbs, cream & cheese were all set to bake & turn into a magical dish, which would later be devoured while listening to the pitter patter, sitting by the french window. 

I poured myself a glass of wine, & settled for a bit, waiting for the chicken to be ready in another 20 mins….

And then….BAM ! 😑 *power cut * 

How could I be SO naive & optimistic about this ‘Baking on a Rainy Day Plan’ ?! 

This is #pune ! Even 10 mins of rain, results into hours of powercut ! Hmmph… 

But I wasn’t gonna let my plans be ruined, just bcoz this brilliant ‘Smart City’ decided to cut off power suply! 😏 

So out came the next best thing – the Cheese Board ! 

Now how can you go wrong with a Cheese Board & Wine ?! 

* That’s why I always say – Stock up your groceries smartly * 

I had all the essentials of a Cheese platter ready, & all it took was a little assembling. 

So within minutes we had – Olives, Parmesan, Gruyere Crisps, Mild Cheddar, some Fruit Preserves, Spanish Chorizo, & the lovely fresh warm baguette ready, for a candlelight evening by the window, listening to the pitter patter of the rain, sipping wine & having an awesome evening. 

Well played ‘Smart City’….But I’m smarter than you 😏😎😂

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Iberico Salchichon (Sausage) – Delightful memories of Spain. 

Are you a fan of Cured Meats ? 

I surely am !  I absolutely love the intense flavour of cured meats like Chorizo and Jamon ( -salt cured Ham- pronounced as ‘Hah-mon’)

Just a tiny bit goes a long way in jazzing up your meal instantly. 

For those who are new to the technique and art of Curing meats, here’s a little info about the process of curing – 

To put it very simply, ‘Curing’ is a technique of flavouring & preserving foods, such as meats, fish, vegetables & fruits. 

The aim of curing is to draw out moisture from the food by adding Salt, Sugar, Seasoning and such other natural preservatives, to increase the shelf life of the food, and store it year round, for consumption when certain fish/fresh produce or not available or in season. 

Dehydration is the earliest form of food curing, which also includes processes like spicing, pickling, cooking, or smoking. 

Curing decreases / completely draws out the water content from foods, thus making it inhospitable for the growth of microbes that cause food spoilage. 

On my recent visit to Spain, I got a chance to sample various types of cured meats, be it in their original form as a quick nibble between meals, or in Sandwiches, Rice dishes, as a flavour enhancer in Salads, and very prominently as Tapas and on Cheese platters, served with Drinks. 

There are literally thousands of types of cured meats, all over the world. 

Some are made using a single meat such as Pork, some with a combination of 2-3 different meats (eg- pork, beef, deer, wild boar etc) or even offal. 

Some sausages also use a combination of spices like Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Pepper, Coriander etc, if the meat is to ‘Gamey’.

The one that I particularly liked, & bought in huge quantities to take back home, was the ‘Iberico Salchichon’. 

(Iberian/) Iberico Salchichon/Sausages are made from the famed Black Hoofed Iberico (Iberian) Pigs, native to Spain.

 They roam free, and feed on leaves and acorns. Extremely flavourful (& needless to say, quite expensive !) these are quite the delicacy in Spain. 

The pork is dark red and marbled with delicate fat, creating an intense flavour and melt in the mouth texture. 

Unlike Spanish Chorizo, which is infused with a lot of garlic, smoked paprika & other spices, (which btw, is also Truly delicious! ) this Salchichon uses only Salt & Pepper (sometimes Oregano) for curing. With a simple curing solution of Salt & Pepper, these sausages are filled in natural casing (read- beef/pig intestines) & are hung to cure in the cool mountain air for several weeks/months. 

Sliced thinly, this delicious treat can be served with a crisp white wine, some cheese & crusty sourdough bread. 

Makes for a perfect gift for someone who loves cured meats & wines, & even to bring back home, and stash it for the days when you want to sit back and enjoy these, while reminiscing about your beautiful Spanish vacation. 😊

Quick Fried Rice 

​This one dish meal works wonders when you have a cup of leftover cooked rice and want to rustle up a quick meal on a busy work day. 
This literally takes the same amount of time it would need to cook a packet of Instant Noodles. (ok… maybe a minute more, to mince and chop the veggies…. but so much more nutritious than a pack of junk food)
I generally stock up a few bottles of Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, and Curry Pastes to instantly jazz up boring veggies and meats.

You can use any meat/veggies you have at home, as there are no set rules for this recipe. 

So don’t be lazy, and try this simple recipe next time you have the urge to just pop a ‘ready to eat’ packaged meal in the microwave. 
● In a wok, heat a tsp of Sesame Oil (any other oil would do) Add in minced Ginger & Garlic,  Soy Sauce, (Fish Sauce- optional), Black Pepper/Chilli Flakes. 
● Add lightly whisked Egg (/Sausages/Bacon) and any of the following veggies – Pak Choi/ Bok Choy /Mushrooms /Cabbage/ Spring Onion. Add Salt to taste.

Saute on high heat for couple of minutes.

● Add in the cooked rice (should be cold/room temperature) and toss it just enough, so that all ingredients mix well. Serve hot. 

Party Platters 

​Nothing brings people together like good food ! 

I always follow the golden rule –

*Keep things Simple* 

Party Platters are my favourite. I always create  generous platters of nibbles, ahead of time – A stressed host is never fun ! 

These platters are easy to assemble. Easy to serve. Require little cooking time. And there’s always something for everyone. 

You can have a mix of different cheeses, crackers, olives, fresh/dry fruits, chorizo, cold cuts, vegetable crudites, variety of dips, finger sandwiches, sliders…the options are endless! 

Except for frying up some chicken nuggets, making some dips and sandwiches, all other snacks are pretty much just assembly/arrangement work, that takes a few minutes. 

Simple Cucumber Sandwiches, Chicken and Cole Slaw Sandwiches, are great for warm summer evenings. Ham sandwiches, cut in bite sized pieces, or mini pulled pork sliders are a great snack with your drinks. 

 Have an assortment of cheeses, some soft enough to spread on crackers, some hard, some mild and some sharp. 

Plenty of Fruits like Strawberries,  Grapes, Pears or Apple, to cut through the saltiness and richness of the Cheese. 

Cold Cuts are always a good idea. Some spicy Chorizo works well too, and Olives ofcourse. 

Add few munchies like assorted Nuts , Chips, and Vegetable Crudites with a variety of Dips. You could either make these dips, if you have the time, or you could even buy a couple of good store bought dips. 

The main aim is to have a variety of food, so that there’s something interesting for every guest. 

Just a little planning, a proper shopping list, and 1 trip to the grocery store is all it takes to make a perfect, stress free party platter which you can enjoy with your friends, without spending hours in the kitchen ! 

Quick & Easy Chorizo Fried Rice

There are times you are hungry, and tired after a long day…when all you want to do is just plonk in front of the TV and have a quick one dish meal. Something that you can rustle up under 10 minutes, and gobble up just as quickly.
My quick and easy Chorizo Fried Rice is just the thing for you, in such situations.

You will need –

* Cooked rice – 1 cup.
(Cold leftover rice works best for this, as it isn’t as sticky as freshly cooked rice, so gives better texture to the fried rice )
* Chorizo Sausages – As required.
* Egg – 1 no. (Optional)
* Garlic – 2-3 cloves
* Soy Sauce – 1 tsp (or as required)
* Sesame oil – 1 tsp (groundnut oil/any other oil is fine too)
* Salt – To taste
* Black Pepper – A big pinch
* Spring Onion/Cilantro/Mint leaves  -As required

Method –

* Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add finely minced garlic and sliced chorizo sausages. Stir on medium heat till fat from chorizo renders into the wok.
* Add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
* Add an Egg to this mixture and stir in for a minute till it cooks (Egg is optional, you can omit this step if you do not wish to use egg )
* Add cooked rice and strir till the soy sauce and chorizo oil mixture coats the rice evenly.
* Turn the heat off and add generous quantity of finely chopped Spring onion/Cilantro/Mint (or a combination of all, if you happen to have all of these at home) for a fresh, crunchy texture and flavour.

Your 1 dish meal is ready in under 10 minutes.
Chorizo gives the rice excellent flavour and just a little quantity goes a long way to pack in lots of flavour into the dish.
Egg gives you the required dose of protein.
Rice makes for a hearty one dish meal.
And the mint and other herbs add a fresh texture and flavour to this dish.

So next time you are tired after a long day at work, or simply too lazy to cook an elaborate meal, you can try this one dish meal that’s not just hearty and delicious, but also fast, fresh and simple !

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Syrakko , Mundhwa

Looking for a lovely fine dine, with a beautiful ambiance, delicious food and excellent cocktails, to impress that special someone? ‘Syrakko’ is The place.
Perfect for a quiet cozy date night, or even for a meal with your family.
They have a long list of cocktails and I strongly recommend, you try some of them.
My pick for a light refreshing summer drink is the ‘Fresh Mowed Lawn’
A refreshing blend of chilled cucumber juice and Vodka.
But if you are a coffee lover like me, then the Espresso Martini is a must have !
I twisted mine with Bourbon instead of Vodka…and boyyy the combination of that strong espresso with bourbon was an absolute delight !
Moving on to Soups- I tried Chicken and Almond Shorba.
Its one of those subtle, creamy soups that you could just go on having on a cold rainy night. So warm and comforting. The garlic melba served on the side deserves a special mention. I loved it.
I chose Malai Prawn Tartlets for starters. True to its name, the prawns were indeed very creamy and delicately flavoured. The flaky, buttery shortcrust base was done nicely and the garnish of microgreens gave the dish a fresh crisp edge.
I was keen on trying the Prawn and Chorizo Risotto from the mains.
I love the strong, almost pungent aroma of spicy chorizo sausages. But it can be overpowering if used excessively.
Happy to say, the rissotto was flavourful with just the right quantity of chorizo used in it. The chef was careful enough not to overpower the dish with too much chorizo, while still infusing the perfect amount of flavour required.
The tender, succulent prawns added the delicate balance to this dish. Quite impressive!

In a fine dining restaurant we are generally used to seeing tiny portions on the plate, which leave you wanting more. (or maybe I’m just the greedy one…lol)
But at Syrakko the portions are pretty generous…so much, that I found it difficult to finish my rissotto!

There’s always room for a little dessert no matter how full you are…and at Syrakko, you definetly have so much to choose from !

‘Paan’ pannacota….Yes you read it correctly. Paan infused panacota is definitely worth a try. A bit too sweet for my liking, but a nice dessert for all those with a sweet tooth.

But my pick is definitely the ‘Espresso Phirni with Tiramisu Granita and Chocolate Soil.’ Honestly, the idea of ‘Espresso Phirni’ didn’t quite appeal to me when I first read it on the menu.
But it was so flavourful, and the tiramisu granita with the crunchy chocolate soil was a medley of different tastes and textures on my tongue.

The massive coffee lover that I am, having coffee in my drinks, and in my dessert was like being in coffee heaven !

Syrakko opens this week, so next time you want to plan a family dinner, or want to impress that special someone, you know where to go !

Bon Appetit 🙂

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