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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Summer (Watermelon Tomato Spanish Gazpacho) Mornings…

A hearty cold soup for the warm summer- Spanish Gazpacho with tomatoes, watermelon, celery, coriander leaves, white bread n extra virgin olive oil n pink rock salt

My summer morning breakfast  is changing as the temperature waves keeps oscillating, for most of the time of the year I’m loyal to my set breakfast which is oatmeal in milk with sugar or honey or jaggery n with fruits sometimes n I never get bored of it- almost, even if I do get bored that feeling doesn’t stay long. The real trouble begins when  I realize there are no oats at home n I don’t know what should I cook which is healthy, hearty n all that stuff…for a moment I feel I’m in shallow water n I don’t know how should I move, should I walk or swim?

You know there are options, in fact a few good ones which is healthy and tasty at the same time, no I am not gonna say parantha...but I  will say a bowl of yogurt with dry flattened rice re-hydrated in water with a touch of sugar or honey, it’s just delish. Often I will prepare semolina with milk n ghee n sugar, sometimes on the savory side with semolina with tomato, onion, peas- but I have got bored of all of them except the bowl of yogurt with flattened rice.

In one of these days I made my very first gazpacho n I realized what a great breakfast food it is,  healthy n full of flavors and almost no cooking involved at all except peeling the tomatoes n making the passata, not that the tomatoes need to be peeled for every gazpacho but only for this particular recipe. The good thing about this cold soup is it is hearty, so it a meal in itself and you can serve it with a few croutons if you feel like, the prominent flavors are that of the tomatoes n the extra virgin olive oil and the watermelon. Few days ago I was going through a book by Yotam Ottolengchi n this recipe left an impression with me, it was a watermelon tomato gazpacho and both of them screamed ‘summer summer’ in the ears of my mind and I told myself “you have thought of making gazpacho so many times before, so maybe now you should really make it”, n I really made it n I’m very happy with the result, so a big thank you goes to the chef Ottolengchi.

There is certain feeling that comes to me as I involve myself with this chilled soup in  summer mornings, the crunchy croutons makes a pleasurable sound under the teeth and the cold soup is refreshing n light. So if you looking for another healthy summer recipe, this is the one, not just as breakfast, have it in warm afternoon or evenings. the original recipe has basil leaves in it , I replaced them with fresh coriander leaves because I love their flavor, in fact I was about to add musk melon to this recipe but that morning I just couldn’t find any in the market, I think it will be a great addition to this.

Gazpacho is an ancient dish; the name is of Arabic origin meaning ‘soaked bread’ literally, a popular dish in Spain n Portugal. Traditionally it is cooked in large clay bowls and served with garlic croutons and chopped raw vegetables, but vegetables are not the only options when serving Gazpacho, often hard boiled eggs are served with them, chopped ham, roasted cumin powder, crushed almonds are added often, why don’t you come with something for your family! Let me know when you come up with one. For now I will take you to the recipe.

For The Recipe: You will need

For the Gazpacho:
 Ripe tomatoes-500gm, about 6-7, blanched n peeled, then chopped
Celery stalks- 1 ½, washed well, fibers scraped if any, then chopped, only the lower parts
Garlic cloves- 1 ½ medium cloves
Onion- ¼ of medium onion, chopped
Watermelon flesh- 100 gm, seeded n chopped
White bread- crusts removed, then cut into 3 cm chunks
Tomato passata- 40 ml/ tomato juice
Coriander leaves- 3-4 tbsp, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil-50 ml
Pink rock salt- 2-3 pinches
Black pepper
Red wine vinegar-1/2 tbsp

For the Croutons:
White bread- cut into 2-3 cm chunks, about 100 gm
Soybean oil- 2 tbsp
Red wine vinegar-1 tsp
Salt – 3 pinches

For the Tomato Passata:
Tomato-2 medium, blended till smooth
Onion-1/2 small onion, chopped
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp, chopped
Garlic- 1 small clove, chopped
Soybean oil-1 tbsp
Pink rock salt- a pinch
Salt, pepper
Honey- 1 tsp

1. For the passata, heat the oil in saucepan on medium low, add the garlic n onion,  don’t let the garlic  go brown , so stir n then add the tomato puree, add a bit of coriander leaves, give this about 7-10 minutes on low heat, when it will be concentrated, add the salt, pepper , pink rock salt n honey and the rest of the coriander leaves, mix well, add a dash of water if it is too dry, then take it off the heat.
2. First of all pour boiling water over the tomatoes, give them a minute, then replace with cold water and when you can handle peel the tomatoes by pulling their skin, then chop roughly. Put the tomatoes, celery, garlic, coriander leaves, watermelon, bread, passata into a blender with salt n black pepper, then blend until smooth, you can do with hand blender too, when smooth check for seasoning and adjust, after that with the blender still running add the vinegar and the oil and you are done, place it in a bowl, cover and let it chill in the refrigerator.
3. For the croutons pre-heat the oven to 200 Celsius, pour the oil in the baking sheet, add the vinegar and salt with the oil, then lightly toss the bread cubes in this mixture, heat a frying pan or griddle pan on high heat, when hot add the bread chunks and toss them in between until they are slightly charred but not too much which will take about 2 minutes, then pour them in the baking tray and place into the oven for about 8-10 minutes when they will get golden n crispy.

That’s all; it seems ridiculously simple, isn’t it? When the soup is chilled and you are ready to serve, pour the soup into bowls, place some fresh coriander leaves on top, a few cubes of cold watermelon cubes, a few drops of olive oil in each bowl, a little touch of salt and finally when you are eating drop the golden crispy croutons, but before you take the bite pause for a second and have a second look at the bowls, what a beautiful color…let it make you happy. Bon Appétit.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Indian Mango Ice-cream- You Are My Summer

GulabKhaas Indian Mango Ice-cream with Pistachio praline dust n leaf-the true essence of summer n why home-made ice-cream makes all the difference

I set the battery in the camera, I set the two plates ready, the pistachio praline dust is ready and the praline leaf has come out of the oven 5 minutes ago and they came off the baking sheet in one shape, much relief, now all I need is the ice cream on the plate. So I run down to the ground floor to get the tray of ice cream and I start scooping as soon as I reach the veranda, the rays of the evening sun are on the plate, one by one I put 3 scoops on the plate and by the time the 3rd scoop is getting ready the first two starts to melt, at this time I start to panic, I should have frozen the plates, the sun is at 42 Celsius  and I have to take good pictures before my ice creams melts down, with a stiff heart I place the fresh mango puree on the plate around the ice cream, place the pistachio praline leaf on the ice cream and I start to shoot, gosh it’s not easy at all, every second the ice cream melts a little more and loses its height, I’m worried now, if I can’t find good frames in this frame of mind today is gone, I have to shoot next day because the ice cream wont set again in 5 minutes and the evening sun isn’t going to stay…tough. 

That’s what I go through almost in every shoot, though some are more dramatic like this one, but then at the end of shoot when I spoil myself with the half melted ice-cream, all the hard work seems fine, I can just eat it like that but the photographs are for you really, who come to this blog to find some beautiful delicious food.

I love ice-cream in every season n I think it’s only in the summer when you can enjoy it like in no other season. I dream of a warm beach, I’m sitting on a rock looking down at the sea with the wind on my face with ice –cream on my lips, I imagine of walking inside a dark green forest with an ice-cream in hand with the sense that something is following me, I imagine of walking in the woods in golden sunlight with heaps of dry leaves under my every footstep with ice-cream drops running down my hands, I imagine of sitting by the bone sculpture of a dead camel in the Kalahari desert with chocolate ice-cream in my hands.

Right now in India the summer is tremendous and not much rain till now, we are waiting for the rains, our genes are praying for the rain n at home I’m making ice-cream with mangoes n I realize these are the best mango ice-cream I have ever eaten, the freshness n the flavor of the mango is in every scoop, every time I’m making it with different varieties of mango the flavor changes, the store bought one are the same all the time and most of the time the flavor is artificial. So why would you not make a little effort to create something so good?

In my ice-cream I use fresh mangoes, single cream, full-fat milk and sugar syrup and corn flour n a touch of salt-that’s all. The first mangoes to appear in the market every summer in Kolkata are ‘Golaap khaas’/’Gulab Khas’/’Gulaab Khaas’, they are in a prominent shade of green with a stroke of red on one side esp. on the lower half on the mango, the flesh is smooth and not fibrous and  it is not completely sweet when ripe, it still has a touch of acidity or tartness, that’s what makes them so desirable in a hot summer afternoon, the perfect balance of sweet with a touch of tartness.

When I put the ice-cream in the freezer to set I give it about 4-5hours as it begins to go solid, since I don’t use an ice-cream maker I take it out, put the solid parts in a blender and blend it until it becomes a smooth mixture that can be scooped with spoon, then it get in the freezer to set again for 3 hours, I repeat this blending process for 3 times with the gap of 3-4 hours, the result is an ice-cream that is smooth in texture with less icy crystals in the bite, if you freeze the ice-cream right away overnight and eat it next day it will give much less smooth mouth feel n more icy crunch feel than if you churn it every 3 hours.

Every time you are blending the ice-cream to smooth, you are redistributing the ice-crystals already formed inside preventing them to grow bigger in one shape, with 3-4 churning the final ice-cream becomes more scoop able with smooth mouth feel and with much less icy crunch. So now here is the recipe.

For The Recipe:  You will need

For the ice-cream:
Mango-2 Gulab Khaas, medium size around 300-350 gm
Single cream- 200 ml
Full-fat milk-100ml
Sugar-8-9 tbsp heaped
Cornflour-3 tbsp
Water-11 tbsp
Salt- a pinch

For the Pistachio Praline:
Pistachio-14-17, slightly roasted for 4 minutes
Sugar-3 tbsp

1.  Place the sugar with the water in a saucepan on medium flame, as the sugar dissolves completely put the flame high and let it come to a boil, simmer for 4 minutes and you will see the color gets a little touch of yellow, the flavor of the sugar will change a bit, that’s what we want, after 4 minutes take it off in a container and let it cool.

2. Peel the mango and scoop the flesh out with spoon and then place them in a blender and blend till completely smooth, add a dash of water if needed.

3. In a deep saucepan or wok place the cream with the milk and let it come to a simmer on a medium flame, stir it often and make sure nothing catches at the bottom, dissolve the corn flour in little water , once the milk n cream comes a to almost a boil reduce the flame to minimum and add the corn flour tbsp by tbsp, stir continuously at this time and make sure nothing catches at the bottom, once all the corn flour is added give it 1 minute, then add the sugar syrup n pinch of salt n mix well, take off the heat. Taste at this point if you would want it more sweet, add more sugar if you feel like and make it dissolve. Pour the mixture in a flat container which is floating on cold water or ice to cool it down. When the mixture is at room temperature n not hot, add the mango puree and mix well until homogeneous. Then pour the whole thing into a flat container which will go inside the freezer. Freeze for 4-5 hours at the initial stage.

4. Once the mixture has begun to get solid, touch it and you can feel if it is still gel like or begin to get hard, if it is beginning to get hard take it out and cut the mixture with a knife and put inside a blender and blend with little breaks in between when you scrape down the sides n blend to a stage when it looks smooth n fluffy, at this stage pour it back into the container n freeze again in the freezer for 3-4 hours. Repeat the same thing after 4 hours, refreeze n do it again, repeat one more time.
This is why you should begin making the ice-cream in the day time so that by night your blending process is done and you are not blending at 2 in the night and everyone is wondering what on earth you are doing at this hour. So then let the whole thing freeze for a good solid 8-10 hours in freezer in that container or in moulds if you like and next morning your ice-cream is secretly ready, well not so secretly actually.

5. For the pistachio praline, toast the pistachios on low heat for 4 minutes, then in a heavy bottom saucepan place the sugar with water gently, make sure there is no sugar cubes outside the wet sugar in the pan , place it on low heat for 4 minutes, then increase temp to medium high, when it reaches brown color, shake the pan gently for even color, when it gets dark brown stage, throw in the pistachios and pour the whole thing on marble counter, after 5 minutes they will easily come off.
Place the praline in a blender and blend till you obtain a smooth powder, make sure the blender is dry before placing the praline into it.
To make leafs or round disc first make a template on paper and cut out those shapes, the place that paper on a baking sheet and with a spatula lift out the praline dust and scatter over the template, make sure the shapes are getting coated in a thick layer of praline dust, if they are too thin you won’t be able to get them out in one piece, so dust well, when you have dusted over all the template carefully lift up the paper and you have the shape on the baking sheet.
Pre-heat the oven to 150 Celsius/330 Fahrenheit and place the baking sheet carefully n bake for 2 minutes, then let the sheet cool n then with a spatula lift up the shapes carefully.

Ice-cream is ready, take out the tray and dip a spoon in water n scoop in a line and the ice-cream will curl with the spoon, what a beautiful thing to watch, place on cold plates, place each praline leaf over a scoop, scatter some praline dust around the ice-cream and add a piece of fresh mango in the plate or even a fresh mango puree. And then forget everything and take a spoonful of ice-cream and place it carefully in your mouth, close your eyes and be loyal to the ice-cream, everything else will fall in place. Bon appétit.