Saturday, January 29, 2011

A new name & new blog..... Join me!

Wondering why a new name or a new blog? I just thought that this describes me better!

i2cook is a food and a review blog by my husband and I. I cook and he writes reviews.All the posts and comments from this blog have already been transfered. See you there!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Michelin Star - What is the difference?

What is so special about a Michelin star chef? The cook at the local restaurant can cook without being rated by a Michelin Star! Read on to know if they really need to be marked or the star is just a media bubble.

So what is so different? Is it about small quantity and high prices, names in European lingua? Is it about the ambience or the presentation of food? All these questions get answered when one has the privilege to taste the food created and I repeat ‘created’ by chef Igor Macchio.

Igor Macchio is a chef who runs an eatery in Italy called “La Credenza”. Chef Igor has been rated with a single Michelin Star which means that La Credenza is the best in its category of food creators of Italian food. This also means that Chef Igor caters to anonymous inspectors about 6 times a year and successfully assures them that his title of Michelin star is the basis of subjective and critical acclaim.

If not in Italy where can one taste the best Italian cuisine from a Michelin star chef?

VetroThe Oberoi (Left on the lobby) has a round door, which I thought was unique and confusing for a new visitor; because the glass and wooden door is completely spotless. Vetro means “glass” in Italian personifying its allegiance.

The restaurant is designed to exploit natural lighting using a curtain of coloured glass. The interior designer obviously made a killing on creating lines of glass holders and filled them with randomly coloured glass (probably left over from a previous job) which lacks imagination. I would not speak much of the décor, as it only reminds me of the lounges in an international airport. However, there is a little corner that contains a wine library and wine tasting table that is perfect for a group session adorned with some of the finest Italian wines.

I walked straight into the clean and organized kitchen where Chef Igor was in the process of creating a lamb marinated in Xanata coffee and served with sweet corn sauce garnished with cress. If you can digest the real name for the dish, “Agnello marinato al caffe’ con ragu’ di mais dolce e germogli lamb marinated in coffee, sweet corn ragout and aromatic cress.”

The Italians speak with their hands and work their mouth on every word rounding off the ends with precision and Chef Igor did the same with “scho-cho-laat’se” and “baat-saar”. It is quite a fresh breath listening and watching the chef make a complicated recipe sound like a tomato toast. While the presentation is a la 5 star complimenting the real test has always been the taste. So we sat in the Vetro over a glass of divine white wine while the chef explained the veg dish; pumpkin ravioli created in amaretti milk known in Italian as, “Ravioli di zucca con schiuma agli amaretti e pesto homemade pumpkin ravioli, pesto and amaretti milk foam.”

The taste of melting pumpkin ravioli is so different from the ingredients in solitary albeit precatory, cuts your interest in the world around you while you digest each sense on your face. Some of the recipes are more than 24 hours in preparation time to serve up quarter of a plate of mind watering taste, aroma and experience. For instance the fine risotto topped with a swirl of anchovies.

The staff at the Vetro comprehends Italian cuisine and aspire to learn more. They work in the background interacting with you in the most subtle manner to make sure that you need not lift hand or open mouth for service. The air-conditioning keeps you comfortable shielding the sun’s heat rays.

The Mumbai based Nariman Point restaurant has all the requirements that an Italian restaurant may require. A perfect destination for Chef Igor through his world tour promoting his piedmont style promising cuisine of exceptional quality. Chef Igor does not use garlic unlike most Italian chefs and yet has a clear understanding of why certain things are done the way they are. He explains, “We always puts the dra-ssing on the top and the sauce at the bot-tom as the garnish may lose frashn-ass as the sauce may bees hotz!” The whole process of cooking is about precise measurements and precise ingredients and combinations, to make sure that food is tasted in perspective of the right combination.

I believe that such hard work and precision can only come with substantial skill and experience and deserves a star rating which is done with equal diligence. Vetro is worth a visit not just by Michelin Star chefs but also Italian savouring audience. Are you one of them?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arusuvai Chain Season 2: Sauteed Mushroom

Arusuvai is a beautiful friendship chain  to bring together blogger and non blogger. A secret ingredient is mailed and all you have to do is create a dish from it. This was originally started by Bharathy of Spicy Chilly, Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons and Lathamma of The Yum Blog. Now the second season is organised by Sayantani of A Homemaker's Diary.

I received my first secret ingredient from Divya Kudua of Easy Cooking. Along with the ingredient; I also received a hand-written letter and a book - Dessert Puddings by Nita Mehta.Frankly, I've never used this ingredient nor did I know the name of it.I had a hunch that it was used in preparation of rice items like biryani or pilaf but I wasn't sure. I googled first for garam massala and tried to match the image with the ingredient  and finally I found that it's called 'Star Anise'.

Star anise is the almost ripe, dried, star-shaped multiple fruit of the star anise tree (Illicium verum), which is a member of the magnolia family (Magnoliaceae). The small, red-brown, star-shaped fruits contain 6 - 8 unevenly sized, boat-shaped individual fruits 12 - 17 mm in length, each containing a glossy brown, egg-shaped seed. It has a more powerful, pungent and strong flavour when compared to other spices.Whole stars can be used as such or they can be grounded as well. A note to keep in mind, because of its powerful flavour, only small amounts are used.This spice is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and to a lesser degree in South Asia and Indonesia.
This is my first experience with the spice and I wanted to use it in a completely different manner. Star anise is commonly used in Indian rice or curry and it can also be used in baking or in flavouring fruit salads.

250gms of button mushroom, cleaned and cut into cubes
2 nos star anise
2tsp olive oil
2tsp minced garlic
1stp ground pepper
1/2tsp chilli flakes
salt to taste
Fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish

Heat oil in a pan and add star anise. Allow it to change it's colour to blackish brown and add garlic. Let the garlic turn a little brownish and crisp, I like garlic nice and crispy; if you don't like yours brown or crispy then let it cook only for 30seconds. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Cook on medium flame until the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are cooked.Switch off the stove and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve hot as a side with anything you like! Serves 2.

My tastebuds: I found the flavouring too strong and different from the usual.

The chain of friendship continues and I will be sending secret ingredients to Veena of Kitchen Celebrations and Vidya of The Black Ladle.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

English Winter Soup

It's winter time, well technically in Mumbai too.... It's  pleasant and the best part is that a you don't have to cover yourslef up from top to bottom. December and January are the only two graceful months of pleasant weather in contrast to the humidity.
Winter is also the time for some delicious soups and it is the best way to hydrate yourself too. I found this recipe here and liked it instantly. The soup is a meal by itself and one bowl can really fill you up!

1/2 cup arborio rice
1tbs olive oil
2 medium sized potatoes, sliced
1cup fresh or frozen peas
2tsp crushed garlic
1tsp nutmeg
2tbs finely chopped parsley
4cups water or broth
salt & pepper to taste
2  hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Heat some oil in a skillet, and roast the rice until gloden brown; this will help the rice to cook faster and give it a nice nutty flavour too. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pot and add crushed gralic, cook for about a minute and let it not turn brown. Add potatoes and allow it cook for a minute. Add parsely and mix well. Now add rice, peas, nutmeg, water or broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer the stove to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Serve hot with toast or egg or both. Serves 2.

This is my submission to this month's  No Croutons Required - Rice, hosted by Lisa's Kitchen, to Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen, to Soup Recipes, hosted by My Culinary Creations and to Winter Warmers, hosted by The Veggie Hut.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Asparagus,Mint & Lemon Risotto

This post has been a long overdue and for some reason I almost forgot about it.....The Risotto is inspired by Jamie Oliver and it's my first time to try out any of his recipes and I'm glad I did.
To get fresh asparagus in India is a rare thing and I happen to pick them at the Farmer's Market; fresh, green and also organic.The method for cooking  risotto is almost the same as my previous post Yellow & Red Pepper Risotto apart from the flavouring ofcourse...

1 cup arborio rice
1 cup fresh or canned asparagus, cut into desired length
1cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs butter
1tbs olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (can add more if you like)
2tbs  fresh mint leaves
1tbs lemon zest

In the cleaned skillet cook onions in 1tbs remaining butter over moderate heat, stirring until turned light brown, add garlic and onions, cook until soft. If using fresh asparagus, pre boil or if using canned; add them into the skillet and season with salt and pepper.Keep aside
In a saucepan heat broth and keep at a bare simmer or microwave.

Take a non-stick pan (chances of burning the rice is lesser),add olive oil and keep stirring dry rice for several minutes in the oil over medium-high heat until it is golden, but not burnt. This also helps the rice to release the starch later on, and creates a nice nutty flavour.
Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine is absorbed.If you are not using wine; you can start adding broth.Add about 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.
Continue adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, and cooking, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is 'al dente', about 20 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and stir in the prepared mixture of onion and asparagus , parmesan cheese, mint, lemon zest,salt and pepper to taste.Serves 2.

My tastebuds: the mint and lemon gives risotto a different and a tangy flavour. I didn't like the lemon too much and felt that the flavouring was not complete.

This is my submission to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cindystar.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A good 2010 and some yam fritters...

It's been four months of blogging and I really feel like I belong to the food blogging community. I always look forward to your comments, which are a source of encouragement. 2010 was a  good start and I look forward to this coming year with a lot more blogging :)
We all love snacking and for some reason we enjoy the fried ones much better than the oil-free ones. I've always enjoyed yam deep-fried and like  other roots it fails to give a good taste when consumed just boiled. Yam fritters are good evening snack or can be even eaten as a side-dish along with your main-course.

10 medium sized yams cleaned, boiled & skin removed
oil for frying

for dry massala
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp amchur powder
salt to taste

Flatten all the boiled yam with your palm. Deep fry the flattened yam and serve hot sprinkled with the prepared dry massala.You can also use chat massala instead of the dry massala.

You might like to know: Choose yams that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Avoid those that are displayed in the refrigerated section of the produce department since cold temperature negatively alters their taste.
Yams should be stored in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place where they will keep fresh for up to ten days. They should be stored loose and not kept in a plastic bag.
(Source: WH foods)

This is my submission to this month's Deep Fried Snacks, hosted by Tickling Palates.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Namaste says Santa & a double treat!!!

Warning: This is going to be a long read, so please stock up your coffee & cookies.....

Santa greeted me first by saying Namaste, when I visited him in 2009 in Rovaniemi (Finland), Santa's official address. The Santa park has it's own post office from where you can post greetings to your loved ones sitting anywhere in the world. Rovaniemi is the land of reindeer and yes I got to try out reindeer meat with wild berries and I know I sound like a carnivore now....
This Christmas, I'm  remembering my wonderful holiday and would like to share some of my happy times!

That's ME with Santa

Reindeer meat served with wild berries

All smiles with Lapish hospitality

No...wait! I'm not done yet....
I would also like to share with you a double treat of  sweets that I made from sesame seeds that I received from iherb, for being  selected as one of the winners among ten  in  SOS Challenge in the month of October, hosted by Diet, Dessert & Dogs and Affairs of Living.
I'm heading home for this holiday season to Bangalore and looking forward to some travelling and exploring new recipes.Since it's Christmas time and you would want to gift some cookies, cakes or nibbles and I have come up with two easy to make recipes that would be easy to pack and can last up to a week even without refrigerating. So here it goes...

Sesame Chikki (Til ke Chikki)
4cups of sugar
1cup hulled sesame seeds
1tsp lemon juice
2tsp cardamon powder

Heat sugar in a pan and just when it's melted and before it's crystallizes, add lime.Once the sugar is fully melted, add sesame seeds, cardamon powder and turn of the gas. Mix well. Grease back of a plate or tray and spread the prepared mixture while hot. Allow it to set for an hour. After an hour, you will be
able to break the pieces easily. Break them into desired sizes and store them in an air tight container. I got about 30-35 medium sized pieces.

Sesame & Chocolate Balls
2cups hulled sesame seeds
1cup dessicated coconut
4tbs butter/ghee
1/2 cup honey
2tsp cardamon powder
1tbs raisins
1tbs cashew
50gms dark chocolate

Mix all the dry ingredients except for the chocolate in a bowl and mix well. Make small balls and keep them aside. Melt the chocolate in a bowl (microwave it) and dip the balls one by one, until it is fully covered with chocolate. I prefer to have a thin layer of chocolate rather than thick one. Allow it to dry and refrigerate for an hour. Store them in airtight containers either at room temperature for a week or refrigerate until they can last. I got about 25 pieces.

My tastebuds: I've had sesame chikki before and they are not my favourites. Sesame & Chocolates balls has been tried out  for the first time with the intention to clear my  fridge before I head start out on my travel. This recipe seems to have become an instant hit with me and hubby.

Wish you all Merry Christmas!!!

Sesame & Chocolate balls is my submission to this month's Monthly Mingle - Chocolate Extravaganza hosted by Ria's Collection and What's for lunch, Honey?

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