A roundup of all things foodie (and some things not), that caught my eye last week and things to look forward to next week.
It's been a busy week.
Busy because my head is like a can of worms! The ideas just wont stop coming! And wherever I look, there is a new trigger! I need blinkers. With the book, blogs, website work and the usual duties of mom, wife, homemaker, I am multitasking so much, I start one thing but finish another!
Ideas of note....Lemon olive oil cake from One Perfect Ingredient with Chinese toasted sesame oil, an expensive but oh so indulgent proposition and cheese straws two ways ie. two flavours of cheese on the same cheese straw- ambitious and foolhardy but what fun if I manage it!
Being a Virgo I have this tendency to make lists so I keep things in order with notebooks. In multiples! Each new project must have a new diary.My long suffering husband (who had the onerous task of cleaning up my desk or drowning in my stuff this weekend) exasperatedly counted 6. 1 each for My Mumbai cookbook and my Pahari food book, 1 each for 2 future book projects, the latest - a notebook dedicated to sorting out the meals in my home and a task book with a list of things I need to take care of in general.
This obsession with lists occasionally back fires on me, but I'll come back to that.
I didn't get around to baking his week, but I DID keep my commitment to doing a healthy tiffin stuffer for my son. It was a simple old fashioned vegetable cutlet in which I rather cunningly camoflaged grated carrot and mashed peas. Or at least I thought so... the carrots worked but the peas unfortunately didn't. They came home in a neat little pile of debris on one side of the box thanks to a 6 year old's anathema to anything green!
I also managed to cook most of the stuff I picked up on my marketing trip with Vikram, I had a lot of fennel, two big bulbs, so I pickled it with orange according to a recipe from Joy of pickles. The sweet potato leaves I stir-fried with garlic and a touch of chilli. The thai chillies are drying as we speak - to go into a spicy seasoning I will use round the year. The Kantolas - which incidentally I was correct in assuming were the Meethe Karele of Uttarakhandi cuisine - were delicious in the ubiquitous onion tomato preparation that I resort to too much these days. The water chestnuts became a spicy curry of green masalla and coconut.
But thanks to Vikram, Moras Bhaji was the theme of the week. I started with a raita, then I did a Pithla and lastly a salad with the sorrel, lettuce, fresh pomegranate and sweet provolone cheese. Yet to try the papadi (a tiny nut I have never seen) but the Aam papad (mago fruit leather) was wiped out, it was just delicious. And Aman equates it with treats so I am happy - much rather that then candy.
The onion flakes are destined for my patented herb seasoning - the one some of you have been asking me to make more of. I am going to be making that next week so do book your bottle now. (I will courier/deliver to addresses in India only).
Thursday I bestirred myself to leave the kids and to drive to the Grand Central hotel. Discovery Travel and Living had an event to kick off their new lineup. Will Studd whose program Cheese Slices airs Tuesday was in town to promote his show with a cheese tasting session - a first around these parts and one reason I made it a point to go (a point the organisers made five too often times). The session itself was really good. The show promises to be food porn to beat all food porn - amazing locales of pastures stretching as far as the eye can see, idyllic places where owners of artisnal cheese factories cycle to work, hammer at huge wheels of cheese to check if they are cracked and some eye candy of another kind with italian cheese- makers getting physical (in an entirely kosher way) with cheese in all its forms - but most of all it what is goint to get me to wathch is the presenter, Will Studd who has me sold on Cheese. He's Obviously, stark raving bonkers about artisnal cheese and makes no apologies for it, having dedicated a lifetime to the subject. He has written a cheese bible called Chalk and cheese and travelled the world in an effort to document and preserve artisnal cheese - making. I have a date with my telly on Tuesday and dinner will revolve round cheese!
Perhaps cheese pakoras to wind up my Pakora contest, those who've been meaning to send in their entries, it 30 July. On the subject of he cheese tasting, the whole thing as very slickly put together, down to the slickly packaged giveaways we were sent home with. I have just one itsy bitsy peeve, why are banquets (meals/buttets et all) that follow up food events such as this so badly executed. The high note struck with the event itself instantly comes down a few notches with limp salads that have discolored lettuce and oxidised apples, soggy baby corn and woody asparagus. The soup and grilled red Snapper were excellent although the servers were being extremely frugal in their portions. Had to run so had no time to try the pasta station and definitely didn't need dessert after all that cheese and wine so no comments there. Its lamentable when this happens with any event but when it follows up a food related event, it's inexcusable!
Coming back to my latest notebook, Friday, my friend, Sharvari, sent me the link to this article, on planning meals. Called Save time money and health - plan your menu ahead, in it David B. Bohl advises " Create a chart with 7 columns for each day of the week and 6 rows for 3 meals and 3 snacks. Vary this to fit your particular needs, then make 4 copies for one month. Before the last week of the month, make 4 copies for the next month. This is easy to do if you create the chart on your computer in Ms Word or Excel." It stayed with me through the rest of that day and the night. (Sleep comes slow to me so waking up to get my baby her night feeds usually gets those worms going.)
So Saturday morning I snuck a new notebook out from behind my husband and inaugurated it. I actually got the first week done upto Thursday, factoring in health, budgets, seasonal produce, stuff in stock, person cooking (housekeeper/husband/me), my diet constraints AND picky kids preferances (cos although I REFUSE to cook seperate meals, its easier to have one thing they like (or can be ground to baby food as opposed to delaying their dinner to make something because everything is Boring or Yuck! I suspect by now you can see how lists backfire on me... Anyways at this point I had to go get dressed for the baby shower I was hosting for my sister in law so I put this on hold and rushed off. And then my darling husband being his usual thoughtful self went and did the vegetable shopping for the week while I was gone.
I gave him a big thank you hug, ripped out those two pages and decided to let the chaos reign untill next weekend when I shall try again.
By the by, if you are in Mumbai and if you need to plan a baby shower here are two contacts that you will thank me for (you can buy me a cup of coffee after). Delicie did the most adorable cake - a baby bed with a tiny pillow and blanket, quilting, patchwork, ruffles and all and Rupali of Sentiments did SUCH cute chocolate hampers that the games were an absolute success because EVERYONE wanted one.
Sunday dawned with me being lazy but having to shake off the laziness because I had given my housekeeper the day off. Lunch became a potluck with my sister in law from up the road bringing her mattar paneer (one thing out kids Lap up after ejecting all the peas) and me embarking on a kitchen marathon to make tamatar-tadka dal, pyazwali bhindi and a cucumber raita for which I lovingly sliced the cucumbers paper thin on my LATEST gadget, a almond slicer (that I have yet to slie almonds on) from Chef's aid. I also made sambhar, my best yet, and the aforementioned cutlets.
I also managed to line up a few things on the Mumbai Cookbook blog, for those interested.
Food writing this week,
Vikram's latest column on Olive oil has reminded me of something that as been bugging me for a while - the dissemination of WRONG information with regards to diet. I read the same meadvise from Nita Mehta he writes about with reference to Pomace oil and I was a little concerned too. Incidentally that link to all his stories that I blogged about last Monday, unfortunately does NOT renew itself. (Ambitious expectations from the ET website on my part I suspect...)
Pursuing the Indian Foodwriters roundup I unintentionally embarked upon last week, I forgot to mention Reshmi R Dasgupta considering she also writes for ET and I read the section every week.
I'd also like to add Antoine Lewis who turned Savvy Cookbook into a magazine I waited for every month (not so since he left however - its good in parts wanting too) he's moved to Paprika Media (of Timeout Mumbai and Delhi fame) so the already informative food section of Timeout has just gotten better. There's an illuminating piece on tipping this fortnight thats definitely worth a read ...And no mention of the TOM food section would be complete without a mention of Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi whose written this latest piece as well. I'd also like to add Lesley Estevez to the list. She was a real discovery, Marryam pointed me in her direction, and I managed to find her blog online.
GYAN and Links....
Here is a link to the article on planning menus, Timeout Mumbai online, Lesley E blogs on Diva Italian restaurant Delhi CHEESE SLICES, a 10-episode series, will air on Discovery Travel & Living every Tuesday at 8 pm starting July 22nd. Contact Rupali of sentiments at 65521595/26055316 (she does a whole lot of other events in addition to baby showers.