Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream

A couple of weekends ago I went down to our grocery store and saw some beautiful fresh pumpkin. It was lovely and plump and its ocher-orange color was so eye-catching. Pumpkin is one of my favorite veggies, so I couldn't resist buying a whole lot of it. 

I love pumpkin in just about any form- soups, salads, grilled with some garlic, salt and olive oil... the list goes on and on. But this time I thought... 'lets try something new...' And I decided on pumpkin ice cream. Something I have never tried. 

After some internet research I worked out a recipe and was quite happy with the results.

If you would like to try it out... here's the recipe

Pumpkin Puree

1 heaped cup of  chopped pumpkin
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper


2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/4 tsp almond essence 
2 tsp corn flour
1/3 cup condensed milk
200 ml cream
200 ml whole milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp clove
1/2" piece of ginger (slightly crushed) or 1/2 tsp of ginger powder

In a bowl mix the pumpkin cubes with a drizzle of olive oil and salt salt. Warp the cubes in foil and bake in an oven preheated to 150 degrees Celsius till the pumpkin is soft and has started to brown very slightly. Remove from oven and cool. When the pumpkin is cool, puree in a blender with olive oil  and pepper until it forms a paste. 

In a bowl, beat the eggs yolks with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the golden syrup, almond essence and corn flour and beat once again. 

In a pan, heat the cream, milk and condensed milk with the ginger, cinnamon, clove until it is about to boil. Slowly add half of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture while constantly beating the mixture. Then pour this mixture into the remaining milk mixture and heat on a low flame until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture.

Combine the pumpkin puree with the custard and cool over night in the refrigerator. Churn cold custard in an ice cream maker as per manufacturer's instructions.

[Images- Shalini Pereira]

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Featured!- Our Home on Aalayam

Want to give a big shout out to Deepa from Aalayam for the lovely feature on our Gurgaon home. She had some wonderful things to say and it really has made my weekend! Deepa's description really captures the essence of what we have tried to create in our tiny rented apartment which we call home.

I regularly visit the Aalayam blog, the brain child of Deepa and Supriya. They have some great homes featured, great content and lovely images that are a real inspiration. So when Deepa approached me a few weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in getting my home featured,  I immediately agreed. 

My wonderful and extremely talented sis-in-law was responsible for the images. (Ujwala has her own photoblog and you can see here work here.) We had a great time setting up the apartment and we clicked away happily for several hours, adjusting a cushion here and a book there, while the hubby rolled his eyes :)

Here's a small peek....

You can see the entire feature here.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Feature- Kunal Shah Designs

I've noticed that I have been focusing quite a lot on international designers and their projects, and while that will still continue, I also wanted to highlight some of our own, homegrown talent. So with this in mind, I'm starting a new section in the blog which focuses on  showcasing young Indian designers who are going places. 

To kick off this section I'm really happy to be able to show you the work of my friend and fellow IED alumni, Kunal Shah. Kunal founded Kunal Shah Designs in 2004. This boutique design firm believes in a restrained and understated design aesthetic that focuses on subtle nuances and finer details. I love the clean lines and almost minimalist feel to the spaces he creates. They are very contemporary and yet unmistakably Indian.

Kunal travels a lot and often draws inspiration from his travels and his other passion, art. He is inspired by the works of Geoffrey Bawa, John Pawson, Gaudi and Bijoy Jain. Here are a few select images of the firm's work...

[All images courtesy- Kunal Shah Designs]

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Mid-century Home Restored....

I came across this lovely home in Architectural Digest. This weekend retreat in New Canaan, Connecticut,  is a great example of Mid-century modern structure that has been lovingly renovated and restored. A process through which the home has been brought up to date with contemporary living while still proudly celebrating its mid-century roots. 

Take a look...

[Images- AD]

Friday, 14 June 2013

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream with Poppy Seeds

I finally got myself an ice cream maker, and to celebrate I decided to make some ice cream for the family. Made this last weekend and was surprised at how nicely it turned out. So I thought I'd do a post on it since its Friday- the weekend is almost upon us and you may want to try it out :)

I'm always on the look out for new and interesting ice cream ideas and came across quite a few Earl Grey tea ice cream recipes. Now, I have to confess that I'm not crazy about Earl Grey tea... it reminds me too much of scented soap. But, for some reason I thought that in ice cream form the bergamot flavor would be much more subtle and mellow, so I thought to myself, what the heck, right?

And I have to say I was very pleased with the results. The ice cream was rich and creamy, and the flavor beautifully subtle. The hubby was very impressed and this ice cream is now ranked number two on his list, just behind my lemon ice cream.

So if you are looking for an interesting recipe that will keep people guessing, this is definitely worth the try.

Here's what you need...

200 ml whipping cream 
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup condensed milk
4 tea bags Twinings Earl Grey tea
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)

Here's what you do...

Heat the milk, cream and condensed milk in a heavy bottom pan. Don't allow it to come to the boil. Add the tea bags to this. Cover and allow to steep for about 15-20 mins. Remove the tea bags, squeezing out all the liquid that you can. Re heat.

While the milk mixture is heating, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar is almost dissolved and the mixture lightens in color. Then add in the golden syrup, corn starch and vanilla extract. 

Slowly add half the warm milk mixture to the egg mixture. Make sure to beat the mixture while adding the milk.

Empty this into the remaining milk mixture and heat while stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This is the custard and once its ready, remove from heat and allow to cool. Once at room temperature, keep in refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. 

Churn chilled custard in ice cream maker as per manufacturer's instructions. I add the salt and the poppy seeds right at the end. Once its ready, I place the ice cream in the freezer to harden for another few hours. Serve it up and watch it disappear! 

Happy weekend everyone!

[Image - Shalini Pereira]

Monday, 10 June 2013

In Search of the Perfect Brownie....

Before you read this post, I should warn you that its quite a long one, and I apologize in advance, but I guess this is a topic that I'm really passionate about. Chocolate brownies!

I love chocolate. In any form. It always amazes me how a tiny square of this dark brown, bittersweet deliciousness can instantly make the world a happier place! And when in comes in the shape of a gooey, fudgy brownie, well, you really can't ask for too much more, can you? However, I have to say that I am one of those people who DO NOT like cakey brownies. Nothing irritates me more than ordering a brownie at a restaurant or cafe and getting a piece of 'chocolate walnut cake' cut into a square! 

So now that you all know on which side of the fence I rest when it comes to the cakey versus the fudgy brownie, let me share with you my little brownie saga. Lately I've been trying out quite a few brownie recipes, but not really finding one that ticks off all the boxes on my checklist.

1. Crispy, wafer-like top
2. Gooey, rich center
3. Easy to make. There are a lot of recipes that call for a ridiculous number of eggs, or the use of melted chocolate, which let's admit, is a bit of a pain. Because in brownies, I think cocoa works just as well, and I can't be bothered to chop up bits of chocolate and melt it each time I want to whip up a batch of brownies.

Anyway, this Saturday was a nice slow day and when an old school chum who is working on a project in Mathura (a town a few hours away) told us he was dropping in for the weekend, I decided to use him as a guinea pig. He has a real sweet tooth and has been asking me to make him a batch of brownies for a while now. Perfect opportunity to do some more trials!

I have finally managed to work out a recipe which is inspired by the one on the Epicurious website. However I did make a few changes to this recipe. I used salted butter instead of unsalted, because I thing the extra salt worked quite well. I also added a little milk, because I found the melting of the butter with the cocoa and sugar a bit difficult without it. I also replaced the walnuts with roasted almonds because I didn't have walnuts at home. That was a mistake. I really wasn't too happy with how this worked out.

On the whole, I was quite happy with the overall taste, but I was still a little disappointed with the the top crust that is such an integral part of any good brownie. However after a little research  on how to achieve that perfect crust, I discovered that the crispy top of a brownie is actually a layer of meringue! It forms by beating the mixture very well after the eggs are added, but before adding the flour. I'll definitely remember this the next time I make brownies! Another change I'll make is to use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. Hopefully this will improve the look of the crust that forms.

All the obsessive experimenting aside, I love it when the things you make disappear quite quickly. And these brownies did. I guess that's another one of my 'Monica' traits. 

So, if you're like me, and you love brownies the way I do, all gooey and rich, then here's the recipe....

3/4 cup butter

2 tbsp milk

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cold eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup walnuts

And here's what you do...

Add the butter, sugar, cocoa and milk to a microwave proof bowl and heat it on high a minute at a time, till the mixture is smooth and runny. Allow to cool.

When the mixture is only slightly warm, add the eggs, one at a time, while continuously beating with an electric beater. Beat vigorously for about a minute or two.

Pour into a greased and lined brownie tray and bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for about 25-30 minutes. To check, insert a toothpick into the center of the brownie. It should come out with a few crumbs still sticking to it.

Here is the result...

[Image- Shalini Pereira]

I am going to try this recipe out again this weekend. This time I will use powdered sugar, and also follow the tip about beating the eggs. Will update you with the results...

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Ellen Pompeo's Hollywood Hills Home

Most of us know her as Meredith Grey on the hit show Grey's Anatomy, and those of us who follow the show, envy her for her luck in ending up with the totally delish McDreamy played by Patrick Dempsey. I have to own up to the fact that I love Grey's Anatomy. I follow it religiously, and have done, since I was doing my MA in the UK. Back then I would lock myself  in my room and, spend an entire day watching episode after episode. The hubby finds my fascination with the show hilarious and rolls his eyes at all the drama and emotion that is so much a part of this show. But I mean seriously, how can you not watch a show that has Patrick Dempsey in it? Seriously? 

So I was really happy when I came across Ellen's home in Elle Decor and wanted to share with all of you.

Here's a look into Ellen and husband Chris Ivery's home, a beautiful 1920s Spanish-style villa in the Hollywood Hills. Designed with the help of interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, who has also done actress & singer Cher's home, which I have earlier featured here

This home has a lovey earthy appeal, that I would describe as modern country style. The design draws inspiration from the Mediterranean- from areas like Tuscany, the South of France and Morocco, places Ellen loves for their design sensibilities as well as their way of living. This really comes through in the design. Stylish, with an underlying sense of 1920s glamour, this home has a real rustic simplicity and a easy going casualness that I simply adore. 

[All Images via Elle Decor]


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Capturing Poetry in Motion

Its quite a task to capture the movements and gestures of a dancer, those tiny nuances of expression and enthralling leaps that make an audience gasp in wonder. My good friend Soumita Bhattacharya does just that- she captures poetry in motion. 

A freelance photographer who specializes in performing arts, she gave up her job as a biotechnology research assistant to pursue her passion professionally. Soumita has always been an avid photographer and she describes her new endeavor as an intersection of her two passions- dance and photography. She likes to work closely with dancers, so that she can understand and convey their vision through her lens.

Soumita likes to photograph dance forms from different cultures, something she says, "stems from her interest in travel, and a curious eye." She was recently shortlisted for the Toto Funds the Arts Award (TFA 2013) for her project Body/CityScape, and her photographs have been published in various news dailies like The Hindu, Asian Age and The Sunday Guardian, to name a few, as well as magazines like Time Out, Caravan and First City. Soumita has also exhibited at the India Habitat Centre, The Russian Centre and the Max Mueller Bhavan.

Here are some of the fabulous images she has captured...

You can see more of Soumita's work here... 1, 2, 3

[All images courtesy Soumita Bhattacharya]

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