Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Red Nose Day–Cookies


To celebrate Red Nose Day, Sainsbury blogger network had this Red nose day cookie challenge which I took part in and the result is these cute looking cookie faces with different shapes and sized red noses. Hope you find them funny as well. This is the easiest and quickest cookies I have baked ever in my life. Every thing under 30 minutes. This recipe will make 20 medium sized cookies.



Butter 200gms

Flour 300gms

Sugar 100gms

Vanilla extract 2tsp

Hand full of candid orange peal (optional and can be replaced by chopped nuts)

For decoration:

Dark chocolate 50 gm

Red candy



Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the sugar in to it. Stir and once combined add the vanilla extract first then the flour in to it and mix it very well. Now add the orange peal or if you want add chopped nuts but this is optional if you want to make just basic cookies. When the flour and the butter is mixed well just take a table spoonful of mix at a time and make small ball out of it. press it a little to give it a cookie shape. 


Pre heat the oven to 180 degree C and place the raw cookies on a baking tray wrapped in baking paper. Leave enough gap between the cookies as they will expand a bit as they cook. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or when the colour of the cookies are just changing. Let them cool in a wire rack out of the oven.


Now break the dark chocolate in to pieces and placed them in a bowl. Take a bigger bowl half filled with boiling hot water and place the chocolate bowl in it. Make sure no water gets in the chocolate.cover it for 10 minutes or so you will have lovely melted chocolate for decoration. Mean while the cookies are ready as well for decoration. Decorate them as you like. I simply dunk the cookies in the melted chocolate to make different hair styles and glued the red candy with the same melted chocolate to the cookies.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken and Chorizo Paella


Spain is an amazing country to visit. Beautiful weather, spicy food and lovely people. I went there couple of years ago and you can read about it here and here but for now let me tell you about the food I miss most from Spain. We went to Valencia first and I guess its not possible to go there and not have paella. I loved it then and I still love it. I have tried paella in other places as well but it was nothing like having it in a small village in Valencia. The other thing I miss is the chorizo. However now a days you do get chorizo and Iberico ham in the supermarkets but the selection I saw in a market place in Valencia is incredible.

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There is so much you can do with the endless types of ham and chorizo you will find in the market place. I made some tapas with the salami wrapped in grilled courgette and pan fried thinly sliced chorizo with bread fried in same oil or olive oil.


I never attempt to make paella at home until recently I got a paella pan and a spice mix specially made for paella. I never imagined that making Paella will be this easy. One thing to remember is the rice to stock ratio should be 1 to 3. No need to cover the pan while the rice is cooking.Try it, its delicious.



Paella rice : 1 cup

Boiling water 3 cups

Paella spice mix 1/2 sachet (Use chicken stock if you don’t get this)

Pinch of Saffron

Chicken thighs 6

Chorizo sausages 2

Chopped onion 1 medium size

Handful of frozen peas

Salt to taste



Start with placing the paella pan on medium heat and slicing the chorizo to roughly 1 cm disks. I prefer to take the skin off the sausages but its up to you. I didn't add any oil to the pan as the chorizo will release enough flavoured oil, which will be enough to cook the rest of the dish. So when you see the chorizo pieces are releasing oil and slightly browned then add the chicken pieces to it and coat them well in the oil. Keep an eye on the heat so that it doesn't burn the meat but at the same time it gets browned. Add the onion and continue to fry. Cook for 15- 20 minutes or until the chicken is at least half cooked.


*The cooking time will vary if you use small pieces of chicken or chicken breast.


Wash and dry the paella rice and make the stock with the spice mix and the 3 cups of paella spice mix or the chicken stock. Add the saffron in to the water as well.  When the chicken is almost half cooked add the rice and the peas and give the whole thing a good mix. Fry the rice for a minute and then add the stock in to the pan. Make sure all the elements in the pan is almost covered by the stock. Now cook it on high flame for 7-8 minutes then simmer the heat and cook it for further 10-12 minutes until all the stock is completely absorbed by the rice.


One quick test is to take a fork and check the centre of the pan if there are no liquid left on the bottom of the pan then the dish is ready. Check for seasoning and the serve hot. You can decorate with  lemon wedges but I didn’t have any at home. So I went without it. It was delicious. Try it and you will know what I am talking about.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review–Gu Chocolate Cookbook


Once in every 3-4 months, we have a book sale organized in our office by lunch time by the book people, where we can buy book at a discount rate. Usually cheaper than the high street prices. Some times even cheaper than Amazon. Usually they will have lots of cookbooks, kids books and some novels. I love cookbooks so I make sure that I pay a visit to the sale, every time the book people comes to our site.


This time among all the lovely cookbooks I spotted the Gu chocolate cookbook. I didn't know that Gu had published a book on chocolate, so it came as a surprize to me and I knew I was going to buy that book instantly. Who wouldn’t just look at the cover picture. However people do say don’t judge the book by its cover! So I went in. Every page I turned I felt good. At the end of it it was like a magnet got stuck in my mind and hand, I just had to buy the book!



The hard covered, 200+ pages book contains many interesting recipes along with the usual suspects. The book has 6/7 chapters and you can choose recipes based on your situation demands. I just love the last chapter name its called “…for Chocolate Extremists”. The pictures of the book kept me glued to the book for a long time. They just looked out of the world. If you are  a chocolate lover, trust me you need to have this book.



I came back to my desk and just couldn't resist letting everyone know about my latest treasure. One of my colleague suggested that I should bake a cake from the book. I knew I was going to make something from the book soon but his suggestion narrowed it down to the exact thing. There were two chocolate cake recipes I was toggling between, but then in the end decided to go with Chocolate mousse cake with chocolate glaze on top.


I started on with the sponge which was pretty easy and straight-forward. Just melt the butter (200gm )add sugar(200gm) and start the mixer. Now added one egg at a time upto 5 eggs (the recipe suggested 6 but I thought 5 would be enough). I got the chocolate melted in a double boiler and set aside to cool down before adding to the cake mix. In a separate bowl I mixed all the dry ingredients, 150gms flour, 3tsp baking powder and 1tbsp baking soda (my addition).  Added the dry mix spoon by spoon to the wet mix while continue to mix with that electric mixer. Finally added the melted chocolate and gave it a good mix again.


I had preheated the oven to 170 degrees and placed a lined cake tin in it before starting on the cake mix so by now the oven is and the tin both are ready to bake. just pour the cake mix on the tin and baked for 50-55 minutes or until the skewers came out clean. Took the sponge out to cool it down and turned the oven down.


Now on to the chocolate mousse. This is an eggless mousse, just two ingredients 200gm dark chocolate and 200 ml double cream. Beat the cream till it forms the soft peak and melt the chocolate and add into it to a smooth mix. Chocolate mousse is ready for the spread. All I needed is the sponge to cool down. Since there was some time to that so I started to make my chocolate glaze.  Again started with melting 100 gm chocolate with 100ml double cream. To that added 100 gms of caster sugar and half a sachet of gelatine mix with 2 tbsp of water. I made the gelatine mix before so that no lumps formed in the chocolate glaze. Mixed every thing together and when it turned in to a rich dark pool of chocolate sauce, took it off the heat and let it cool.


Building the cake: I must say this was the toughest part of all. I have done this before but not with chocolate cream. I have always found cream and cream cheese frosting is the best frosting. Easy to spread and holds shape well. This chocolate mousse spread wasn’t an easy one. It took me longer time to do the icing than I anticipated and It wasn’t as smooth as I expected. Maybe I should have beaten the cream a bit longer but anyway, here I was spreading the mousse on the cake.first I added a bit of mousse to the cake base so that when I work on my sponge it shouldn't move. Next cut the cake in to half and spread generous amount of mousse on top of the bottom half.Carefully placed the top half of the sponge. Now covered the cake with rest of the chocolate mousse. This took a while. Finally when I finished I placed the cake in the fridge to set for at least 2-3 hrs. Then pour the glazed on top of the cake, making sure to cover every bit of it. Once that’s done, placed the cake back in to the fridge for the glaze to set on mousse and this time overnight.


I must say I didn’t manage to get the look I was after but I hopes it would taste good, and that’s what happened. My team mates loved it. I took the cake to office on Monday morning and there was nothing left when I left the office that evening. I was happy, all that hard work paid off.


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