Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010 - Lamb and Date Tagine


I have never cooked on Christmas eve or Christmas dinner before. Every time either I will be at my best friend’s place or in India with my parents. In both cases I never had the responsibility of cooking the festive meal.


Couple of years ago I was at my friend’s place and I had the responsibility of decorating the Christmas tree. Last year I was in India and I shamelessly accept the fact that I never help my mom in cooking, I just enjoy it. This year it was different, my parents have visited me couple of months ago, I wasn’t going to India and my friend was working late on Christmas eve. So it was just me and my better half at home on a snow covered, –12 degree C evening.


I am a big Nigella fan. Simply because she makes such mouth-watering dishes with least effort spent. Whenever I have to cook something special I often look in her website or books for recipe ideas. This holiday season I was following her program Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen on the Good Food Channel and recording them for my future reference. I know if I am in need of any culinary help then where to look for.


This Christmas eve was one such occasion. I was about to cook my first ever Christmas eve dinner for both of us and I wanted it to be special. Very special. I decided to make Lamb and date tagine which I had recorded form Nigella’s Christmas series. It is an easy to make and extremely rewarding on taste for the least amount of effort spent in making this dish. I had a lovely evening with my husband, celebrating Christmas eve without spending hours and hours in the kitchen to produce a good festive meal. If you love lamb as I do, then this is most definitely worth a try.


You can find the recipe for the lamb tagine here or in the link above mentioned. I served the lamb with some couscous and a red onion relish which she suggested in the show. The recipe for the relish is very simple just thinly slice the red onion and soak them in pomegranate juice and half of a lime juice while the lamb is cooking and serve with the lamb and couscous. For couscous I followed my recipe which you can find here, only difference was this time I didn’t add the chickpeas and the orange jest. Enjoy.


Sending this to Maison Cupcake for this month’s Forever Nigella contest.


Next morning the Christmas day we went to our friends house where she was preparing for a massive Christmas dinner for eleven guests. She is an expert cook. In fact I learnt from her how to throw dinner parties. She is an amazing host and a great friend. Every Christmas that I have spent in this country was with her and family. So this time also we did the same thing and as always it was great! For the boxing day we went shopping, had lunch outside and when we came back home we watched Inception and two more movies before going to bed. Here are some photos :)




Happy holidays to all my readers :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Food Bloggers' Cafe on Facebook

“Are you on Facebook?”
That’s what you get asked nowadays when you make new friends :) I love meeting new people, making new friends, it’s just an amazing thing to do. Besides my routine work this is one of those few things that makes my day different from the last one. To enhance on this thought, about a week ago, I created a group on Facebook called Food Blogger’s Cafe. At that time I didn’t know what I will be doing in here or any member of this group as a matter of fact. But I created anyway, just the idea of having as many  food bloggers as possible under the same roof made me create this Cafe.  Little did I know that this group will grow much faster than I thought. Just more than a week and we are already 100+ members in the group and not only that, this is an extremely active group. Members are sharing their blogs, latest posts, news, adding more food bloggers in the group. It’s an absolutely happening place on facebook.  So if you are on Facebook and a food blogger please do join the group :) and share you blog links with rest of the members.
Since we are growing so fast, I thought it will be nice to have a profile picture for our cafe. A picture that represent our group. So, I invited the group members to submit one photo of their choice that they think will be suitable as a profile photo for our cafe, which meets the following guidelines:
* One entry per member.
* Your own work please.
* Post the photo on the group wall.
* Please see all the photos before liking.
* To "Like" click on any of the photos, then on the top left corner of the photo there is a link of "See all photos".
* Self voting will not be counted.
* The photo that gets most liked will be chosen as a profile picture of our Cafe :)
* The last day of submission is midnight 31st. December 2010.
* I will be featuring every entry with a link to the member's blog on my blog in a single post.

Here are the entries I have received so far. I will continue to update this list as I receive more entries.











And finally Mine :)
I am so glad to receive such a great response from the group. So thank you guys for being part of this Cafe and keep blogging. To like or comment on your favourite photo please visit the group album by clicking here.
For food bloggers who haven't joined the club yet, please do so and enjoy making new friends.
Wishing everyone Happy Holidays :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Cookies


It’s so Christmassy! That’s what I thought when I saw these cookies for the first time.  I had been thinking of baking some cookies for some time but never really got a chance to do it. As we are only couple of weeks away from Christmas, I decided to make these gorgeous looking cookies. I not only enjoyed making them I also loved the fact that these cookies go so well with the festive atmosphere. Those little bits of red cherries in the light golden brown butter cookies make the perfect accompaniment for an afternoon tea in this festive season. These are not exactly instant cookies or very easy to make either but they are not very difficult too! The most difficult part of making these cookies (other than the waiting part!!) is making the logs, which I have explained later in the method.



230 gm unsalted butter

200 gm white sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

350 gm all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

200 gm glazed cherries (chopped)



In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients (other than sugar) and keep it separately. Melt the butter and add the sugar in it and start beating. I use an electric hand mixer to do this. When the mixture is little light in colour add the egg and continue beating till it becomes a pale yellow mixture. Now add the vanilla extract and mix well.  Now add the dry mix you made earlier to this egg, butter, sugar mix and continue beating until the dough forms.


Divide the dough into three roughly equal part and place them on individual greaseproof baking sheets. Now comes the most difficult part of the recipe. Making a log of this mixture. At this point the mixture will be bit sticky so to make a log I placed another baking sheet on top of the mixture and used a rolling pin to roll the top surface of the mixture to give it a uniform shape. Now press both the ends (width) inside so that the log is evenly shaped and when you cut the log you get even pieces.


My log was 10 inches long, 2 inches in width and about an inch and a quarter thick. Once you are happy with your log cover it with the baking sheet and seal the edges. Repeat the same procedure for all three portions and keep in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight ( I kept it overnight). You can also freeze them to bake later in the month.


Pre heat the oven at 190 degree C. Use a thin bladed knife to cut the cookies roughly about 5 mm thickness. Place them on a baking try lined with a baking sheet and bake them for 10 –11 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool them in a wire rack and then pack in an ait tight container. Enjoy with a cuppa!   


Monday, December 6, 2010

Time for Goodies

Last Monday I had an invitation to the Sainsbury’s food blogger meet in London. I was all set to go and on the day of the event I had to cancel my invitation because I had to be in another place at the same time. It wasn’t very happy about it as I have been waiting for it. Anyway, it may be next time. The next day, I received an email from Sainsbury’s, which cheered me up! I was about to receive a box full of goodies from Sainsbury’s. Isn’t that wonderful! It made me feel like it was already Christmas.


Friday morning, I received a huge box in the morning post. Much bigger than the pervious panettone box. And guess what I found inside the box? Here is the list. Thank you so much Santa Sainsbury’s for making my this Christmas so very special. Cheers!!!


Taste the difference Almond Panettone – Italians are known for their taste when it comes to Christmas treats. I have tried the Panettone with chocolate bits and now this lovely almond one. It seems after baking this light, buttery textured Italian cake is hung upside down, which helps produce the exceptionally moist finish.


Taste the difference Swiss Truffles – The box had four types of truffles, and I have enjoyed them all.

  • Rich Dark, made with single-origin chocolate from Madagascan Trinitario beans;
  • Milk Chocolate, a traditional Gysi-family recipe using chocolate from Ghana and Ecuador;
  • Vanilla Caramel, with fresh Swiss cream; and
  • Marc de Champagne, filled with genuine French Marc de Champagne made with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes


Foiled chocolate racing cars – These little treats are ideal for Christmas stocking, but I would suggest buy them closed to Christmas eve, else you will just have to buy more and more of these goodies. As far as I am concerned I have finished these too. .


Taste the difference fruit and nut topped Christmas pudding is about as good as it gets. The glossy, luxury fruit topping is made with three different French glacĂ© cherries, American almonds and pecans and some sweet-sour candied Moroccan orange halves. The pudding ingredients include juicy Turkish raisins and Greek currants mixed with Californian sultanas and Chilean raisins – all soaked in a warming, boozy blend of sherry, brandy and mixed spices. The pudding is gently steamed and then cooled before maturing for six months, allowing the world-on-a-plate flavours to develop just in time for Christmas.


Taste the difference Holly leaf Christmas cake is baked at a low temperature and the oven gets blasts of steam throughout the cooking process, helping to give it an exceptionally moist finished texture. When cooled it is laced with Cognac before being hand finished with a rich layer
of marzipan, white icing and hand-made edible holly and berry decorations.


Shortbread selection packed in a cute Scottish dog shaped box, just melts in mouth. Its buttery smooth texture is just ideal for a cuppa!   


Note: Some of the images are courtesy Sainsbury’s and I am taking a break gobbling down these gorgeous goodies.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Frosty morning and a frosted rum cake


It’s December the festive month! Time for Christmas, shopping, gifts and snow!!!


Last Friday I was in my office, it was quite dark outside and as usual I was eager to go home but needed to finish something before I could leave for the day. One of my colleagues walked in to my cube and said “did you notice it’s snowing outside”. I jumped out of my chair and went out to take a look at season’s first snow. I went out of the office building, stood there in the dark, it was freezing cold and the little, light, small pearl drops were falling on me. I was there as long as I could and then came running back inside the building. I know it sound stupid but it felt good!!


I was hoping if only I had my camera with me I would have clicked some pictures. All I had was my mobile camera which would definitely not do any justice to the snow. Then again something is better than nothing! Thanks to the modern mobile technology I came back to my cube took my mobile camera and went out again to try and capture a moment that I can share. I wasn’t sure whether next morning I will be able to see some snow or not. I took few and this was the best of the lot.


I came back home and after dinner I had to bake a cake ( it was my birthday after all!) but was thinking what best would go with this weather. The suggestion came from my better half, “anything with alcohol would be nice ;)”. Hence decided! I found the recipe online, started baking and after an hour or so, my house was full with the baking aroma. I think everyone likes that! 


The recipe suggested that the cake tastes even better the next day, so I left the cake out of the oven and went to bed. Next morning when I woke up and looked out side this is what I saw and this time I had my camera with me :) Enjoy the photos!


After half an hour of photoshoot I realized its time for some breakfast and in this case its the rum cake. To match the weather outside I thought a frosting of icing sugar would be ideal for the cake and here you go!!



1 cup  butter
1 1/2  cups sugar
3  eggs
2  tsp vanilla extract
2  tbsp lemon zest
1/2  cup  dark rum
1 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
2  tsp baking powder
1  tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

For Rum Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup water



Melt the butter, add the sugar to it and start beating (I used an electronic mixer). When the mixture becomes pale in colour add the eggs and continue beating. Now add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and the rum to the mixture and mix well. Now in a separate bowl add all the dry ingredient give it a stir and start adding in to the wet mixture slowly while continue beating until it becomes a homogeneous mixture.


Pre heat the oven to 180 degree C. Grease a baking tin with butter or spray oil. Pour the cake mixture in to it and bake for 50 minutes or until it passes the skewer’s test. Bring it out from the oven and let it cool. Make the rum syrup by boiling all the ingredients together. Pierce the cake multiple times and pour the syrup on the cake. Let it cool completely.


I am sending this post to an event celebrating baking in snow called The Snow Day Bake-Off hosted by A Slice of Cherry Pie.


BTW, I had a beautiful birthday and you know what, I didn’t cook a thing on that day!