Sunday, January 31, 2010

KUTTANADAN DUCK ROAST a virtual' virunnu' and a happy blog!

"Truly great friends are hard to find,difficult to leave, and impossible to forget".
Author Unknown

How many of you believe that we can be  friends  real good friends with people whom we have never met? Well, I am a strong believer of that. It could be the simplest of reasons for you both to be friends with each other. For me, through my love for food, have found many like-minded foodie friends who have been blogging as passionately or I would rather say, more passionately than me. Food was the topic that drew us closer, but as the days passed by, we realise there is something more that than just food! :) This is the best part of blogging.

So here is my lovely friend Maria , who instantly accepted my request to feed my ever-so- hungry blog during my wedding preparation time! It was a very short notice for her, but I was 100% sure that she can do it, because , she is a marvel at cooking! For all those who haven't been to her space,do check out her space!





I dont know how many of you know me, so I will do the introduction part first. I am Maria and I have a small space called MariasMenu.

It’s the first time I’ve got an opportunity to do a guest blogging, thanks a ton Ria dear. Am very excited about it :)

Before going to the recipe, let me wish our lovely bride & groom (Ria & Jobin) a happy & blessed married life!! I would like to quote a few lines from a wedding card, that I got for my wedding. I Liked the lines in that card, hence thought of passing it to you too.

A happy marriage means these things -

sharing little happenings,

togetherness that never ends-

hand in hand,

the best of friends,

encouragement,

a little kiss,

lots of pride in one another,

being honest with each other.

A happy marriage is

love and laughter,

and living happily ever after!!

May your marriage be filled with loads of love & laughter and may you live happily ever after!!

Now about the recipe…When Ria asked me to do the guest post I agreed immediately, even without thinking what will I post. As the days passed by I was getting more and more confused about what to make.

Then one day, I was chatting with my friend who got married recently and she happened to tell me about the “virunnu”. Virunnu kodukkal or rather virunnu (as its popularly known) is an age old tradition that we have in Kerala. Soon after the wedding, the newly weds start getting invitation from their relatives and friends (from both sides) to visit them. Its a time where you get to know the family of your spouse in detail. Not to mention that the highlight of the virunnu is the grand feast prepared by the host for the newlyweds. Each host tries their best to impress the bride & groom with their masterpiece dish :)

Now when my friend mentioned the word virunnu, I suddenly thought about Ria. I was thinking what will be that special dish that I would like to prepare for them. Finally I zeroed in on kuttanadan duck roast. If you are a frequent visitor here at Ria’s place, am sure you might have noticed her love for Kuttanad or rather her “motherland” ;). So here I am with this Kuttanadan duck roast especially for you. Hope you both will like it. Let me tell you how happy I am that I could atleast give you a virtual “virunnu”.

Once again wish you both a beautiful married life!



Here is the recipe:

  1. Duck – 1/2 kg (after cleaning)
  2. Shallots (small onion) – 1/4 cup, chopped
    Ginger & garlic – 1 – 1.5 tsp, chopped
    Chilly powder – 1-1.5 tsp
    Coriander powder – 2-3 tsp
    Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
    Garam masala – 1 – 1.5 tsp
    Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
    Vinegar – 2 tbsp
    Salt
  3. Curry leaves
  4. Oil & ghee
  5. Onion – 2, sliced finely

    For garnishing
  6. Onion – 1 small, sliced finely
    Potato – 1 medium, cut into wedges & boiled
    Curry leaves
Grind number 2 ingredients into a fine paste. Marinate the cleaned duck pieces with half of the ground paste. Keep it aside for 1 hour.

Heat oil in a pan (you can use a combination of oil & ghee also) and shallow fry the marinated duck pieces till it turns golden brown colour. Keep it aside. In the same oil add the finely sliced onions & cook. When the onion becomes golden brown colour add the remaining half of the ground masala. Fry it till the oil starts appearing. Add 2 cups of boiling water to the onion and masala mix. Combine well.

Transfer the fried duck pieces and the onion gravy to a pressure cooker. Cook till the duck is done. The cooking time varies depending on the type of duck (broiler or free range).Once the pressure is gone, open the cooker & cook till the gravy thickens. This curry usually doesn’t have much gravy, so you need to cook till the water is almost dried and each piece is thickly coated with the masala. Transfer the duck pieces to a serving dish and garnish with fried onions, potatoes & curry leaves. Serve hot with rice or appam.

For garnishing

Heat oil/ghee in a pan and fry the boiled potato wedges, remove from pan, In the same oil fry the thinly sliced onions & curry leaves.

Notes: I cooked the duck with skin on. Since I used a broiler duck, I cooked it for 5-6 whistles on high flame.

Thank you SO much Maria for doing this for me! Muah! We thoroughly enjoyed the virtual 'virunnu'!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hiatus!

Hey there!


I apologise for  not updating my blog for almost 2 weeks. I am in such a hurry these days to finish the work pending before my D-day! :) With hardly 28 days left, I am doing a headless chicken run.


So, I thought, I would let you all know that I really miss blogging a LOT...but the good news is, I'll be back with a bang with all the recipes I am trying out recently.So kindly bear with me.


I am leaving behind some pics of what is keeping me busy these days ;) It takes a lot of time and effort to send out wedding invites and also to crochet gold flowers for my wedding saree :) So they are the culprits! :D







Golden crocheted flowers made by 'yours truly' for her wedding saree :)






Hope you are well!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

HONEY ROASTED ALMONDS...a sweet kick start for a new decade!


I had mentioned these golden beauties in the menu  for my Dad's 50th Birthday Party . These beauties are such simple li'l things which can give life to a party. I have had store-bought versions of it while I was studying in Bangalore and have always wondered how it was made without the nuts going soggy.

Recently, an old family friend of ours sent us a packet of almonds which were bought from Dubai. They were so so crisp and nice. But I am not a complete almond person. I'd prefer cashew nuts or peanuts anyday! Nevertheless, my dad and mom were raving about it's goodness. 


On the eve of my dad's birthday, they had gone out to finish some errands and I was thoroughly bored sitting at home. We didn't have good voltage ,so I couldn't bake anything.That was when I thought of roasting some almonds.





After reading through many many recipes, I zero-ed in on one. It was very simple and quick recipe!

HONEY ROASTED ALMONDS
Recipe source: www.cooks.com 

Ingredients:
Almonds-2c , whole with skin on
Sugar-1/4 c
Salt-1/2 tsp
Honey-2 tbsp
Water-2 tbsp
Oil-2 tsp

Method:

  • Spread the almonds in a single layer in a shallow ungreased baking pan and place in a cold oven. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the internal color of nuts is tan (12 to 15 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Thoroughly mix the sugar and salt. Stir together the honey, water and oil in a medium size pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the roasted almonds and continue to cook and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed by the nuts (about 5 minutes). Immediately transfer to a medium bowl and sprinkle sugar mixture over all and toss. Spread on wax paper and cool.
  • Variations for the above recipe: You can try spicing it up by adding a pinch of nutmeg/cinnamon/cardomom etc.

I was pleasantly suprised how good almonds could taste this way!! The salt and sugar combination makes it so addictive! My guests were completely hooked onto it...requests for the recipe were flying at me! My dad's best friend even thought these were imported! Wee! What a compliment! :) This has become a firm favourite in my house. Mom just cannot keep her hands off it! :D




My sincere request to all almond lovers: Try these at least once in your lifetime, there is no better way of eating them! It is really delicious!

Now I am thinking of trying some with peanuts/ground nuts. Might have to vary the cooking time depending on the type of nuts used...so will keep you all updated about how it goes! :D


Friday, January 1, 2010

VIENNESE CHOCOLATE GENOISE SPONGE with STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE...A sweet toast for the NY and my 100th post!

' Happy New Year Everyone! May your souffl├ęs rise, macarons have feet, and cakes have a beautiful crumb! '

Days, weeks and months flew by and here we are ... with a new year and a new decade! 10 years ago I was in school and now, I have exactly 45 days more to get married!! Phew! Those 10 years saw a lot of change in me! 2009 personally for me, was a very happy year. And 2010 is going to be a very very different year for me (& Jobin) since we are getting married on 15 February.So basically it would have been my last year being single(definately not ready to mingle again! :P)

2009 gave me lots,I must say. A very blogging supportive family :), a new circle of real real good blogging friends, lots of travelling(  ), lots of gastronomic adventures( how can I forget that??) and a lane of good memories! Hope 2010 holds even more better stuff for me and for all you guys out there!

Blogging wise, it was a roller coaster ride for me. Some months saw me blogging immensely, some rarely.Food photography gave me a share of emotional highs and lows :) I am still struggling to get enough light for my pics..sooner or later I will , hopefully! :) Sometimes I did feel that it is quite a struggle to feed my hungry blog especially since I started my trousseau shopping.But I definately didn't let it starve! I can't be that bad! ;) Anyway, I am starting this new year with my 100th post! Woo Hoo!! :) Time did fly by! That means, I tried out 100 recipes, clicked a minimum of 300 pics?!? WOWIE! :)

It was only in November(15th) that I added a widget to track the no. of people who visit my blog. I was so amazed to find out that I have an average of 800 visits everyday and 1400 being the highest! So that shows I have many many silent readers! THANK YOU! :) Y'all make my life (&blog) feel so special!

So here I am, raising a toast to the NY and a new decade with a VIENNESE CHOCOLATE GENOISE SPONGE  with STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE.I made this cake for my Dad's 50th birthday  3 days ago. It was indeed a very berry cake! 

Menu for his Birthday:



VIENNESE CHOCOLATE SPONGE WITH STRAWBERRY MASCARPONE

Ingredients:
For the sponge:
125 g flour
125g powdered sugar
125g chocolate,melted
100 g butter
5 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
75 ml fresh cream
4 tbsp vanilla sugar, ground or to taste
150 g strawberry, chopped
Gelatin-1 tsp bloomed in 1/8th cup of water, melted (I got this idea from Deeba ,Oops! Sorry Deeba, forgot to mention this here before!)

For the frosting:
25 ml fresh cream
2-3 tbsp vanilla sugar, ground or to taste
50 g strawberry , chopped

Method:
For the sponge:


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Grease and dust a 10" baking tin and line the base with a greaseproof paper.
  • Melt the butter in a small bowl over a pan of hot water and leave for any sediments to settle. Pour off the clear ghee from the top of the bowl ( you can use homemade/storebought ghee instead).It should not be hot when it is added to the mixture.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder twice.
  • Separate the yolks and whites and keep in 2 bowls.
  • Add sugar to the yolks and beat over a pan of hot water until thick and creamy.Add vanilla.
  • Sieve the flour on to the egg mixture.Do not stir in.Pour the melted butter slowly over the flour, around the sides. 
  • Pour the melted chocolate. 
  • Whisk the egg whites stiff(not dry) . Add a little whisked egg whites to the flour and mix gently.Fold in the remaining whites carefully.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 mins. The cake is cooked when it shrinks from the sides of the tin and springs back into shape when pressed.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and leave it for 2 mts in the tin on a wet cloth and then turn it out on a clean dry towel.Peel of the paper and invert the cake on a wire rack
  • When cooled, slice horizontally into 3.


Filling :

  • Beat the mascarpone with a wooden spoon still smooth. Add the remaining ingredients(except gelatin) and mix well. Check for sweetness.Pour the melted gelatin and give a good mix.


Frosting:

  • Beat the mascarpone with a wooden spoon still smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Check for sweetness


Assembly:
Place one layer of cake on the cake stand or plate .
Pour 1/2 of the filling and cover the surface of the cake completely. Leave to set in the fridge for 30 mins. Repeat the same for the next 2 layers.
Frost the top and sides of the cake. The scrolls have been inspired from Deeba   & Art of Dessert. 
Refrigerate the cake overnight for the flavours to blend well.

The cake was downright delicious! The chocolate wrap around the cake was a stunner.Never knew I could get it right at the first time! :) Many of our guests thought that the cake was bought from a patisserie :D It sliced beautifully and the mascarpone filling made it ever so luscious! Everybody(including me, definately ;D ) enjoyed the cake to the last crumb! :) This is a perfect party cake!




I have another reason to kick start the NY. My friend Jitha's dentist actually sent her an sms asking her to check 'ria's collection' since he heard it was real good!






Whoa! What more do I need!! :)


*~Jitha: riiiiiiiii'
me: heyyy
 *~Jitha: ur blog is super famous
  :D
  im soo proud of u ..lol
 me: LOL!
  y????
 *~Jitha: my dentist msgd
 n i was telling him dat i was luking up a few recipes
 me: aha
  ennnittu?
 *~Jitha: n hes like oooooooo chk out rias collection..i heard its real gud


Wishing you all a very happy new year! My NY resolution remains the same: To make a resolution.
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