Saturday, 27 February 2010

Tiramisu Royale - another Daring Bond story



Another Daring Bakers Challenge which means another Bond story! I don't know how long I can keep up these Bond stories though but I do so enjoy my Bond! First though, the obligatory lines:

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.


James Bond in Tiramisu Royale

Bond looked dashing in his Naval outfit. A sexy brunette hung off his right arm while his left hand caressed a glass full of martini - shaken not stirred. Veronique leaned in to nuzzle his ear and Bond turned his face to give her a passionate kiss when his pants started to vibrate. Veron raised her eyebrows as she felt the vibration.

"Oh James, I didn't know I had such an effect on you." she cooed.

Bond smiled softly as he pushed her away before digging deep into his pocket to pull out his latest phone that also doubled up as a gun. He read the text message and frowned as he did so. It was from M with just one word.

URGENT

That could only mean trouble. With a frown on his face he turned to Veronique.

"Duty my dear." He stated, matter of factly. "I am, after all, Britain's finest."

Veronique sighed as she watched Bond walk away. She tugged at the top of her low cut dress and adjusted her bosoms to show more cleavage. If Bond didn't want to have his way with her, she would just have to find someone else who would...

*** ****

M looked up as Bond entered her office, the frown on his face practically matching the one on hers.
"It's serious Bond. Two agents from RAW have been kidnapped..." M announced. "...Deeba and Aparna...The evidence at the site seems to point back to us Bond...and it appears you know this Deeba"

The last bit was a statement more than a question. Bond didn't answer nor show any outward emotion but his heart skipped a beat. He had no idea that Deeba had joined RAW - the Research and Analysis Wing of India, otherwise known as the Indian Spy Agency.

"They're being held captive, Bond, and they're demanding a Tiramisu as ransom." M explained.

James puffed out his chest, smiled and said rather proudly. "No issue there M, I've made my own Tiramisu many times before. In fact I've got two versions"

"That may be so Bond, but I think there IS an issue James." M went on. "You see, you need to make everything from scratch. MASCARPONE + SAVOIARDI BISCUITS + ZABAGLIONE = TIRAMISU! From scratch. Everything."

Bond was crestfallen. How on earth was he expected to make Mascarpone and Savoiardi biscuits on his own? Zabaglione, otherwise known as Sabayon, was not an issue. He had experience with that. Everything else though could be a problem.

"I considered not putting you on the case, Bond, due to your fondness for all things Indian...and the fact that YOU are being implicated in the kidnapping. But you are our best James." M said almost kindly. "Do what you have to Bond. Godspeed."

James left M's office with an even deeper frown on his face. He read the fax again and wondered if he would be able to save Deeba and Aparna. He also wondered why the rebels had chosen Tiramisu as the ransom. Strange. Very Strange indeed.




Bond spent the next few days with Leng Loi. Her beauty never failed to enamour him as did her intelligence. Her nubile body wasn't bad either. One of the best he had seen he had to admit to himself. Perhaps not Britain's finest, but perhaps China's finest. It made sense too as her name, Leng Loi, translated to Pretty Girl in Cantonese.

It was the weekend before the Lunar New Year and Bond always enjoyed the company of the gorgeous Leng Loi during this time. He had met her when she was on attachment to MI6 as an exchange spy from China. It hadn't taken Bond long to discover her and more than friendship had blossomed between them. Unfortunately though, this year he had to cut down on the time spent with the Chinese beauty and instead spend time on making the Tiramisu.

He had read and re-read the recipe and realised that it was indeed a rather cumbersome and complicated recipe. Far more complicated than his own version of the luscious Italian Dessert. He thought back to Francesca Sofia Giada Alessandra Valentina del Piero and how she had not only introduced him to Milano Biscuits but also to Tiramisu. She had explained that there was a legend to Tiramisu, literally translated as 'pick me up'. The legend has it that in Venice of old, there were a group of courtesans who worked in the brothel above a restaurant. Apparently, the ladies needed a "pick me up" to fortify themselves between amorous encounters. He believed the legend as the 'pick me up' had certainly worked with Francesca. She would tire herself out, proceed to have a bowl of Tiramisu and then tire herself out again and again before finally tiring him out...

Bond came back to the present and decided he would make the Mascarpone cheese first. James decided he was only going to make half the measure as not much cheese was required. He heated the cream by placing a stainless steel bowl in a pan of simmering water. He used his special thermometer gadget that Q had designed for him to record the temperature as he stirred the cream. It didn't seem to go up by very much although it was supposed to hit 190F. Then again, not much of the cream covered the thermometer - so that was probably the reason why. After a while, Bond got tired of measuring the temperature so he pulled the thermometer out and added in the lemon juice. The mixture thickened after a while and Bond happily poured it into a strainer lined with damp handkerchiefs as he didn't have any cheesecloth. One component down another 3 to go, or was it 4?

Bond consulted the recipe again. It looked like it was going to be a long night - everything needed to be refrigerated overnight as well. Damn this dessert! He would much rather be spending his time with Leng Loi.

Bond suddenly remembered he had to make the Savoiardi. He figured he would make them into three large circles as his Tiramisu was going to be round. The instructions said he was to use the handmixer for the eggwhites and James briefly contemplated using his special K Mixer from Q. Leng Loi distracted him at that point though, appearing in a white gauze like sheer dress that didn't hide very much of her beautiful figure.

"James Darling, it IS Chinese New Year and you DID promise to delight me. This is the only time we get to spend with each other you know."

Bond almost threw his instructions away. Here was Leng Loi in all her glory! He thought about the two RAW Agents, then looked again at the Chinese Beauty. What was that about a bird in hand being better than two in the bush?? Leng Loi was his bird in the hand while the RAW Agents were the two birds in the bush. Ah, decisions, decisions.

He had to make this dessert though and try and save Deeba and Aparna, the two RAW agents. He could never live with himself if he didn't try - especially for Deeba's sake. He remembered the times spent in Delhi Airport with her.

He kissed Leng Loi softly, explaining that he would be upstairs as soon as he made the sponge fingers.

"I'll be waiting James" Leng Loi cooed. Bond watched her shapely behind wiggle seductively at him as he left the kitchen. He felt as if the kitchen suddenly became hotter - or was it just him.

Bond whisked the egg whites and then folded in they yolks and the flour. He spread out the mixture onto parchment paper and in his rush to go up to Leng Loi, he forgot to dust the batter with icing sugar. He only realised his mistake once he put the batter in to bake. 15 minutes later and all he had was sunken sponge cake. He was not pleased nor was he impressed. Bond figured he could just disguise his failure as, after all, he was going to soak the sponge in espresso.




He ran upstairs to find Leng Loi lying in bed waiting for him. He eyed her greedily but somehow he was distracted. He climbed into bed and snuggled up next to the Chinese Beauty. Somehow, something didn't feel right and he could only think of the soft, sunken sponge rather than her sensous figure. He excused himself hurriedly, earning a scowl and an admonishment from the lovely Leng Loi. It was a good thing he didn't understand Chinese as he was sure that what she said was peppered with obscenities.

James skulked back downstairs and checked on the sponge. It was rubbery and he knew that he would have to make it again. This time, he decided to use the cleverly designed mixer by Q. This machine whipped up the egg whites magically and the whites were far, far stiffer than his hand held variant.

"Should have trusted my instincts", Bond thought to himself as he piped circles out. This time, he remembered to dust icing sugar on the piped batter and 15 minutes later, he had pretty awesome sponge fingers - err, sponge Circles.


James considered going upstairs to have his way with Leng Loi but he could still hear her ranting and raving. Hell truly hath no fury like a woman scorned - especially one that was scorned for Sponge Fingers - made to save ANOTHER woman. Make that Two other women. Ah, the tribulations of being a famous Secret Agent, not to mention a fantastic lover...

With nothing else to do, Bond made the pastry cream and the Zabaglione. Two items that he had plenty of experience with and they both came together rather easily.



He then left it to cool and then placed the items in the refrigerator before sneaking away to sleep in the guest room. Sleep came with great difficulty though. His thoughts were filled with Deeba and Aparna and he hoped they were both safe. He also kept thinking about assembling the Tiramisu the next day. The reason for the Tiramisu ransom was also nagging at him. Finally, he dozed off...

The next morning, Bond woke early to finish off the Tiramisu. He whipped the cream and then made two cups of coffee as his espresso machine had been destroyed by stray gunfire after an attack on his domicile one night. He then combined the cheese, pastry cream, zabaglione and whipped cream together. James lined a round pan with cling film and them placed one layer of sponge inside. He soaked the sponge and layered the cream on for three layers. He then covered the entire pan with cling film and let it chill in the refrigerator.

There was some leftover coffee mixture left and Bond added some milk to it for a lovely Caffeine fix. Never let coffee, especially one laced with rum, go to waste.



As he was enjoying his coffee, Leng Loi appeared, looking more stunning than ever.

"James, I'm sorry I was so upset last night. I had no idea that two RAW Agents had been captured." She said softly, holding the fax that James thought he had hidden. "I've worked with Deeba and Aparna before on a mission in Tibet. I wish you had told me..."

James detected a tear in her eye and he held his arms open for her. She walked in and sobbed quietly into his shoulder.

"James, you know what will make me feel better?" She asked softly.

"We've got the whole afternoon babe, I can definitely make you feel better." James said, rather arrogantly.

"I'd like that James, but that's not what I meant." She replied as she looked him straight in the eye. "I want to come with you tonight when we deliver the dessert. I need to help my two friends out too. There's something not quite right about this whole thing"

*** ****
After a passionate morning, afternoon and evening, James wathed as Leng Loi got ready. She wore a black catsuit with several hidden layers that enabled her to hide guns, knives and all sorts of armaments. The best part about the cat suit though was the lacy bits and how sexy it made her look.

As they drove to the delivery point, Bond's face was dark and his lips were pressed thinly together. Leng Loi had helped him piece together the puzzle but he didn't like where the road seemed to end. He hoped that some mistake had been made.

Treachery, treason, deception, betrayal. It was enough to make anyone angry. What more Bond?

Bond and Leng Loi arrived at the 4 storey warehouse - the appointed exchange drop. Bond rolled out of the car unseen while Leng Loi drove up just before the entrance and and stopped.

Bond climbed the fire escape behind the building and quietly entered the top floor from the rooftop. He snuck into the unguarded control room and placed his gun against the head of the figure that stood watching his Aston Martin parked outside.

"The Tiramisu gave it away." Bond said with hardly a whisper. "You always had a passion for Tiramisu and you always wanted to see me fail with that dessert. Why? Why did you do this and put Britain at risk?"

Veronique turned to look at Bond. Her eyes dark and smoldering.

"You must know by now that I'm a Double Agent Bond. Well, triple or maybe quadruple." Veron said softly. "But it was you Bond. I couldn't handle all the women you kept having your way with. It was always you Bond! Take me with you James and lets start a life together. Alone."

Veronique pulled her dress down, exposing a diamond studded Bra that she had received as payment for one of her double agent jobs. Bond swallowed hard as he stared at her bosom. Bond stared at her shapely form and seriously considered running off with her. He had to admit that he was tired of the agency, tired of his work and tired of his meagre salary. The diamonds on the Bra itself would be enough to set them up for life.

Veron seemed to sense Bond's indecision. She unclasped her Bra and tossed it to Bond. She smiled wantonly at him, enticing him with her naked breasts. Bond composed himself and realised where his loyalties lay. He pulled the trigger - not once but twice. As Veron's lifeless figure fell to the ground, Bond walked out of the room, the diamond bra slung over his shoulder. Treason against Queen and Country was simply unforgiveable.

He worked his way down to the warehouse, shooting a guard and acquiring a sub-machine gun on the way. With guns blazing, Bond shot everyone that walked into his path. Leng Loi on hearing the gunfire, opened the large loading bay doors of the warehouse and stepped inside. Deeba and Aparna were tied up in the middle of the floor.

Working quickly, Leng Loi untied the two RAW Agents and made for the exit just as Bond appeared, his face bloodied and covered in sweat. His sub-machine gun clicked signifying his cartridge was empty. He pulled out two small guns hidden in the folds of his shirt and started blasting away at the enemy behind him. As more rebels appeared, Leng Loi and Bond fired at will, watching bodies drop like a deck of cards.

As he walked out with the three lovely women at his side, he threw the diamond encrusted bra back into the warehouse before thrwoing a timed grenade back into the building.

Two minutes later, as the helicopter appeared to whisk the two RAW agents to safety, Bond watched with satisfaction as the rebel headquarters blew up, destroying all evidence that it had even existed in the first place and destroying all the evil that it contained.

Vengeance had a name and it was Bond. James Bond.

Leng Loi sidled up to Bond. She had a hint of a tear in her eyes and a soft, sad, smile on her ruby lips

"I'm sorry about Veron, James. I do know how you felt about her." She said softly before her voice turned urgent. "But that's in the past James. There's still another day left. Let's not waste it thinking about rebels, alright?"

Bond picked her up in his arms and carried her off to his car that with one press of a button, turned into an auto-piloted helicopter - with a bed in it of course. Bond still had the Tiramisu with him. With how they were going to spend their time, he was sure both of them would need plenty of the dessert as a 'pick me up'...



**************

Whew! This was a rather cumbersome challenge but one that I am glad I did. Who would have EVER thought that I could make my own Mascarpone?!! Or even my own Sponge Fingers! The mascarpone turned out really well although the recipe didnt produce the amount that it was supposed to. I still had enough though so that wasn't a problem.

The tiramisu was tasty but I have to say that I prefer my own version. I've got two versions, one with Zabaglione and one without and I think both versions taste better than this one. I use cream cheese and cream, rather than mascarpone and it produces a more cheesy texture that I prefer. The Lovely Wife and the kids, whilst enjoying this tiramisu, professed to liking mine better as well. My versions are also far easier than this one so I think I'll be sticking to my tried and tested!

To be fair though, I do lace my version with far more alcohol and I also made a mistake of not making the coffee mixture strong enough for this Tiramisu. 2 cups of Espresso are far stronger than two cups of coffee...my mistake.

Nonetheless, a Superb challenge and one that I really enjoyed completing - even though it meant that my Chinese New Year holiday was spent in the kitchen!! Great Fun though and I was really pleased to have made Mascarpone as well as Sponge Fingers.

See below for the Loooooong recipe and please enjoy all the other Tiramisu's on the blogospere today, courtesy of the Daring Bakers!



TIRAMISU

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:
For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

Ingredients:
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method:
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,

Method:
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.



Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A drink called Michael Jackson and more cultural exchange



Malaysia is famous for its food and where there is good food, there must also be good drinks! One of the favourite beverages here is Soya Milk. You can get Soya milk in cartons and you can also get it fresh from roadside hawker stalls. Some stalls sell them in plastic bottles too and you can get the milk sweetened or unsweetened.

A couple of years back, an interesting drink started to appear in many coffee shop and restaurant menus - Michael Jackson. My son loves this drink and it has nothing to do with the fact that his name is Michael!

So what exactly is a Michael Jackson? Well, it is Soya Milk with Cincau - otherwise known as Grass Jelly or Black Jelly. I'm not exactly sure what Cincau is made out of but a quick check on Google shows that it is a jelly made from boiling the aged and slightly oxidized stalks and leaves of Mesona chinensis - some sort of mint like plant.

There is also another drink called Cincau which is simply Cincau with sugared water. Cincau is also used in other desserts like Ais Kacang (Shaved Ice with syrup and a whole host of beans and nuts) and many more.

I've also got no idea why this drink is called Michael Jackson. Maybe it has something to do with his song Black or White as the drink is a mix of Black and White? Who knows?



I understand that many Asian stores in Australia, UK and even the USA sell Cincau (Black Jelly/Grass Jelly) in cans so I'm providing this recipe for all of you that want to try and sample a Michael Jackson.



Ingredients
Soya Milk
Cincau (Grass Jelly / Black Jelly)
Method
Dice the black jelly and set aside
Fill a glass with Soya Bean Milk and sweeten to taste. Add in the Cincau and lots of ice.




See how Michael is enjoying his Michael Jackson?!
Its a very refreshing drink and very tasty too. Serve it with a spoon to scoop out the jelly Try it, I'm sure your kids will love it - maybe even you will!


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sarah's 6th Birthday



Im my last post, I gave you a sneak preview of the cakes I made for Sarah's 6th Birthday celebration as well as what transpired on her actual Birthday that fell on a Wednesday this year.

As is usual practice for both the kids, the family comes over for a small tea party on the Saturday following the child's birthday - unless of course the Birthday falls on a Saturday in which case we celebrate in on the actual day - and this is what happened yesterday.

Deciding what to make as a cake for my princess this year wasn't really that difficult. She has become football crazy (like her brother) and supports Arsenal (like me). Most Saturdays, both children go to the nearby park for a game of football with the neighbourhood kids and although Sarah is the smallest one there, she can hold her own.

Saturday nights she will sit and watch the football on tele and every Sunday morning she will want to know who won, who scored and what the latest standings on the English Premier League look like. Both kids also enjoy their Match Attax cards (football trading card game) and have memorised all the player stats and player names. I was initially planning on a football field with plastic goalposts and players but decided to make a jersey for her instead. Michael suggested putting the number 6 on it and I asked quite innocently "Why number six?" knowing that the current Arsenal number six is Phillipe Senderos who is on loan somewhere and definitely NOT a player that Sarah likes. Michael rolled his eyes skyward and said matter of factly. "Because she is 6 years old Dads." Ahhh... how foolish I felt.

So an Arsenal Jersey and a Football were made as the cakes for Sarah. I chose to make an Orange Chocolate Chip Cake where I just added Choc Chips and some Orange essence to my trusted Butter Cake Recipe. The design for the football got a bit messed up as I didnt measure the size of the cake to correspond with the pentagons and hexagons but at least it still looks like a football!


She actually wanted to wear her Arsenal jersey to match the cake but The Lovely Wife thought it would be better if she wore a dress. I agreed too as both the kids had worn their football jerseys for Michael's Birthday. There IS such a thing as being too football crazy...!

Before cutting the cake, she had a lot of fun playing on the trampoline. Her cousins took turns playing on it too.





There was a lot of food too that included sausages, chicken nuggets, Vadai corn chips with salsa and fried mee. There were also some Fruit Tarts that we 'hid' in the fridge as Sarah kept bugging The Lovely Wife to make her some fruit tarts!

After having our fill of fodd, it was time to cut the cake. Michael played Happy Birthday on the piano for Sarah while everyone sang along.




Time to blow out the candles and cut the cake...




She had fun cutting two cakes - first the football and then the jersey. She cut right into the number 6 - causing it to break!



She had a good time and so did all of us. I can't beleive she is already 6 years old. Time is flying by so quickly.

Sarah insisted of taking a picture of me with the cakes. She took this herself using a small compact digital that we let the kids use!



HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sneak preview of the birthday cake for a Football Mad Princess

Today we are celebrating the Birthday of my princess and this is a sneak preview of the cake that I quite literally just finished making. Well cakeS actually. Two cakes. One small and one big.

I made two designs for my Football Mad Princess. In case anyone can't figure it out, its an Arsenal jersey - the Football club she supports - with her name on it and the number 6 signifying her age.



I also made a Football cake for her as well.



Her actual birthday was on the 17th February and she was lucky enough to have the day off due to her kindergarten (and all other schools) being closed the whole week for the Chinese New Year break.

The Lovely Wife took the day off to spend it with the kids but I had to go to work. As usual we woke her up early and left presents under her bed.



One present was left under the covers of Mummy and Daddy's bed as it was too big to fit under hers - it was a small trampoline!



Later that night, The Lovely Wife cooked up a feast comprising of all of Sarah's favourite dishes. Her grandparents (my parents) came over too and a lovely meal was had by all.

My contribution was to make her a trifle!



This afternoon, the family - grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and godparents - will get together to celebrate her birthday. Stay tuned for more stories and pictures of the birthday...

Friday, 19 February 2010

H20pe for Haiti - a BloggerAid initiative


Malaysia is far removed geographically from the events happening in Haiti and sometimes we are too caught up with our own internal problems that we fail to see the hardship that other people are faced with. All we hear or know about Haiti is what we read in the newspapers - and it is all rather tragic.

From Sunday, February 21 - Sunday, February 28th, BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) will be launching H2Ope for raise funds for Concern Worldwide's relief effort in Haiti. This is in the form of an Online Raffle.

For more information on how YOU can make a difference, click on this link:
http://bloggeraidmarketing.ning.com/

Feel free to publish this on your blog as well. Haiti needs all the help it can get...

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Bond makes Mezze - The Daring Cooks



Most of the Daring Bakers are familiar with my Bond stories but this is his first Appearance in The Daring Cooks although this is my second time doing a DC Challenge. This time, one of my good blogging buddies who is also a fellow Daring Baker - Deeba from Passionate About Baking makes a guest appearance in another sordid Bond story. Thanks for being a good sport and letting me write you into this post Deeba!

But first, a word from the host...


The 2010 February Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.


And now on to another chapter of Bond...




Bond tapped the toes of his shoes, irritably. It made no noise on the carpeted floor. He tried to loosen his collar but it wasn’t the tie that was too tight. More like his collar was too small for his neck. He glanced at his watch again. Twenty minutes had passed since he had last glanced at it. Bond wasn’t used to waiting. Not for this long anyway.

It was hot in the MI6 waiting room with the heating turned up on high to compensate for the freezing cold outside - London's worst winter in years. The heat contributed to his irritability. It was compounded by the fact that his back hurt. What was even worse was that Arsenal had just been knocked out of the bloody FA Cup.

What the hell was keeping M so bloody occupied that she had to make him, Commander Sir James Bond, Britain’s finest, wait outside for such a long time? Just then the door opened and M stormed out.

“There’s a problem James. In the Middle East.”

“Terrorists? Religious Extremists?” Bond queried, almost excitedly.

“Pita Bond.”

“Huh, Pain In The Ass? Who’s being a Pain In The Ass, M?” Bond countered.

“No, No, Bond. That’s not it.”

“Ummm where exactly does it hurt then M? Bond asked, with a hint of concern. Maybe her knickers were in a knot and that was causing her some pain. His eyes moved up to rest on M’s bounteous cleavage, almost bursting out of her dress. It wasn't that her dress was too small, more that her cleavage was just... well endowed so to speak.

“For God’s Sake Bond! Listen up." M had caught him staring at her cleavage and she had to admit it kind of got her excited. Nonetheless, there were more important matters at hand. She continued:
"The Middle Eastern countries have heard of our Western fondness for Pita Bread. Not only Pita but Hummus as well. They’ve cut off the entire supply lines out of the Middle East. America is affected as is the rest of Europe. To compound matters, there’s a gathering of Arab dignitaries in London and the Foreign Office has promised them a Mezze night.

“And you cant have a Mezze without Pita or Hummus!” James exclaimed, rather excitedly.






“Brilliant James. Right on the ball! Now off you go to see how you can make some Pita and Hummus. Better yet if you can do a Mezze. We don’t want any excuse for a diplomatic row just because of Mezze or rather a lack off. Run along now.” M dismissed Bond with a quick wave of her hand.

Bond watched her go, admiring her shapely behind in her tight skirt. He didn’t notice any Visible Panty Line and for a brief moment Bond wondered if M actually went Commando...

** **** **

Bond lay back on the bed. Sweat creased his brow and he was panting heavily. The Middle Eastern beauty beside him lay on her side, caressing his face, a soft smile of satisfaction on her own face. She picked up his hand and placed it on her naked breast.

“Another round perhaps James?” she teased.

Bond wanted to say yes. His spirit was definitely willing but the flesh was weak. Very weak actually. Age was definitely catching up with Bond.

“You know I would love to Darling, but duty calls and I have to try and make that Pita and then the Mezze.”

“I can help you out you know.” Ayesha smiled coyly, her hands tracing invisible patterns on Bond’s torso as she threw one naked leg over his thigh. "I have many talents."

“Yes, I do know that my dear but I really have to try and make the Pita on my own.”

“Well, let me help with the Hummus then.” Ayesha offered. “You do remember how much you loved my Hummus the last time you stopped over in Dubai.”

“How could I forget?” James mumbled as he got out of bed. Memories of his last visit to Dubai came flooding back to him. He had disguised himself as a Sheikh and stayed in the fancy Burj hotel. Ayesha had met him there and brought along some home made Hummus that she had spread all over her legs, right up to her thighs. Apparently it was good for her skin tone. After leaving it on for 10 mintues, she had asked Bond to help her remove the Hummus. James had never enjoyed Hummus so much in his life! He also had to admit that the skin tone of her legs was rather remarkable.

Bond shook his head to clear his mind and get things into perspective. James pulled on his clothes and made his way downstairs. The ingredients looked simple enough but as soon as he opened the pantry he realised he only had instant yeast and not regular yeast as the recipe stated.

Not to be flummoxed, he decided he would just use the instant yeast. He mixed it with the lukewarm water and then the flour. He followed the requirement to mix for 100 turns, causing his arms to get slightly tired.

It was time to let the dough proof and with his libido back in full swing, he bounded up the stairs to see if Ayesha was still willing. He found her sitting on the dressing table, applying some blush to her already beautiful face and sadly, fully clothed.

“Just need to pop out for a while James darling.” Ayesha leant in and gave him a soft kiss. “Try not to make too much of a mess – like your pants!”

Bond looked down and realised that his dark, nicely pressed pants were all covered in flour. He watched Ayesha walk out the door, her long shapely legs barely covered by a short skirt. James realised that most of his women seemed to leave him alone at home while they attended to some task or the other. Quite the reversal of roles.

Bond pouted and sulked.

After whiling away some time, almost two hours, he went back to the kitchen to check his dough. It was Alive! The dough was bubbling and almost hissing.



He quickly threw the salt over it and then some olive oil before adding more flour, a cup at a time until the dough was quite too stiff to stir. Bond tossed the dough into his trusty multi purpose mixer cum weapon that Q had invented for him and let the machine do it’s kneading magic.

James put the dough back into a bowl to let it rise again. Bond glanced at his watch and realised that it was only 1230 in the afternoon. He only needed to make the Pita for dinner that night for the Arabian function and he realised he had mistimed his whole approach.

Bond decided he would retard the rise by placing the dough in the fridge. He wasn’t sure how this would affect the outcome of the bread, but there really wasn’t any choice in the matter.

To kill time, Bond removed his medals and polished them. He wasn’t invited for the dinner but it was always good to keep his medals polished. One never knew when he may be invited to a full dress function.

“Mezze! Damn!” Bond announced to himself as he slapped his head. He didn’t just need Pita, he needed Hummus as well! He remembered that the lovely Ayesha had promised to make the Hummus but surely a Mezze couldn’t just have one dish...

He quietly pondered what would go well with Pita bread when one of his favourite Bollywood songs started playing on the radio - Hum Tum from the movie Bobby. Bond knew the lyrics to the opening stanza by heart.

[subtitles flash on the screen as Bond sings lyrics in blue]


Baahar se koi andar na aa sake
No one can come in from outside
Andar se koi baahar na jaa sake
and no one inside can go out
Socho kabhi aisa ho to kya ho

Imagine, if something like that happened, what would it be like?
Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho, aur chaabi kho jaaye
You and me, shut up in a room, and the key gets lost!



He smiled as he vividly remembered where he had first heard the song and why it meant so much to him. He was taken back to that rainy night in India where the rains were so bad that all aircraft were grounded and he was stranded at Delhi airport. That was when James had met Deeba, the oh so gorgeous British Airways ground crew. She had come sashaying over to him wearing a lovely Saree. Bond could never understand how so much material could still make a woman look so sexy. He was used to skimpy dresses and women showing off copious amounts of flesh. This however was a completely new experience for him. 6 yards of cloth and still this woman oozed sex… He wasn't quite sure what it was but she was simply fascinating. Maybe it was her doe like eyes; or perhaps that lilting Indian Accent that shook him like a martini (shaken, not stirred) never could; Perhaps it was the way the Saree accentuated all the right places…

“Mister Bond?” Deeba enquired. “Terribly sorry about the delay but British Airways has instructed me to take care of you.”

Bond’s eyes lit up. “Take care of me? Exactly how do you plan on doing that?”

“Now, now Mr Bond.” Deeba smiled, licking her lips softly as she did so. “I’m quite well aware of your reputation. I must have you know that we Indian women are not slaves to you Colonial Masters anymore.”

That statement made Bond desire her even more. His hand snaked out to grab her full hips to pull her toward him but before he reached her, his own hand was grasped by hers.

“Come come Mr Bond.” She said as she briskly pulled him into a room just off the airport concourse, closing the door and locking it quickly. “We must feed you.”

Bond sighed in rapturous pleasure. Sometimes good food was as good as sex. Or was it sex was as good as food? He wasn’t quite sure after that evening with Deeba. She had served him Chapati (a kind of flatbread) with Tarka Dhall . While eating his flatbread dipped in the rich Dhall, he had been completely enamoured by how sensual she looked just sitting in her Saree with her legs folded sideways.

The angle of her body caused her bosom to angle up sharply and he couldn't keep his eyes off her. Deeba ate with him and as she finished off her chapati, Bond pulled her Dhall covered hands toward him and slowly sucked her fingers clean.

"Ohhh Mr Bond! What are you doing?" she cried.

"I am Bond, James Bond. Famous British Agent and Lover, I do this to women and they love me for it." James replied confidently.

Six Yards of Saree material never came off so fast. Good sex WITH good food was definitely a winner! Who said they had to be separated? Each time Bond visited Delhi, he was greeted by Deeba and each time was even more pleasurable than the last. Sadly though, Deeba had eventually retired from the airlines and trips to Delhi were never quite the same again...

Bond snapped out of his reverie and decided he would make some Tarka Dhall to go along with the Pita. He would also serve some Green Salad together with the Pita as well as some Fried Breaded Chicken. He had a plan and the plan was working out well.

Ayesha returned home and proceeded to make the Hummus. Bond watched her, alternating between staring at her shapely legs and trying to peek under her short skirt as she made the Hummus. Just as she was grinding the chickpeas in the food processor, Bond snuggled up behind her.

“Oh James!” Ayesha cooed. “Is that your weapon or are you just happy to see me?”

Unfortunately for Bond, it was his gun that he had forgotten to remove from his pants pocket. There was a time, Bond thought to himself, that the words ‘your weapon’ had a completely different meaning…

Bond scowled and looked at his clock. It was time to make the Pita. The kitchen was a little crowded with Ayesha finishing off her Hummus but he cleared an area for him to work on. Bond turned on the oven to high to allow it to preheat. He quickly removed the gun from his pants pocket and placed it somewhere safe. A hot and crowded kitchen was certainly no place for a loaded gun.

He cut off a piece of dough and rolled it out, not quite being able to get a proper round shape. He followed the recipe and placed a baking tray in the bottom rack of the oven before throwing in the piece of dough. It didn’t rise. He left it in for a good 6 minutes but still nothing happened.

Groaning softly, Bond threw the piece of bread away and decided that perhaps his oven wasn’t hot enough. He moved the tray to the top rack as he rolled out another piece. This time the dough puffed up somewhat after about 4 minutes in the oven!




Bond quickly made the rest of the Pita bread and they all puffed up and produced beautiful pockets. Bond quartered them and sent them off to the Foreign Office together with the rest of the items making up the Mezze. He send M a coded message to say that his mission was a success and that the items had been delivered. He even sent her a picture to prove that the Pita had pockets.



After tidying up downstairs, James slowly climbed up the stairs. He was weary. His shoulders ached and his back was troubling him. He entered the bedroom and found Ayesha standing there. She was naked from head to toe with only a sheer veil across her face. She held a small bowl of Hummus in one hand.

"Happy Valentines Day,James!"

Bond put his hands on his hips and willed away the pain in his back.

“Ahh James Darling. I see that your weapon is back” cooed Ayesha...

*** *** ***
This was a most interesting challenge and The Lovely Wife got involved too! She absolutely adored the Hummus recipe. She has made Hummus before but this recipe was really tasty. She only made a small amount - I think she quartered the recipe but it was more than enough.

The Pita was interesting to say the least. Like a lot of the other Daring Challenges, this challenge was the sort of thing that I would never have attempted otherwise. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to make Pita but I reckon that the oven temparatures stated in the recipe are too low. Or maybe it was due to my retarded proof or maybe even my dough consistency wasn't correct. Nonetheless, I think a higher oven temperature would have worked better.

The Pita tasted really good on the day of baking but unfortunately doesnt keep very well. I stored some in the fridge overnight and heated some the next day for lunch. It was a tad hard after reheating but both my parents were still impressed with my Pita. They thought it was store bought - but then again, my parents are not terribly fussy - they eat anything! I do too, but I will complain a lot more!!

My favourite taste testers were not too pleased with the Mezze. I dont blame them when they had leftovers from lunch to eat that constituted of one of their favourite meals.

All in all, this was really fun and I'm glad I did it. Go check out the rest of the Blogosphere for more Daring Cooks posts. Oh, and Happy Valentines Day!








Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook
2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)
Directions:
1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.


Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.
1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste
Directions:
1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.






Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Steamed Fish with Ginger



I'"m not a great fish fan, simply because I fear that the bones will get stuck in my gums or my throat. However, I do like fillets and even fish that don't have too many small bones.

One of my favourite fish dishes to order when we eat at Chinese Restaurants is Steamed Fish with Ginger. I always thought that it would be too difficult to make at home but once I did it, I realised it is really such a snap to do!


The key to a good steamed fish is to make sure the fish is fresh. The flesh is then still firm and slightly sweetish. The main seasonings for this dish is soy sauce and ginger with a little garlic.



Sesame Oil lends a little more flavour and gives off a wonderful fragrance as well. This is my recipe for Steamed Ginger fish:


Ingredients
1 pomfret or any other fish - clean well
1-2 inches ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 onion - sliced
1 Tbsps Sesame Oil
1-2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
Spring onions for garnishing
Method
Mince the ginger and garlic. Fry onions in sesame oil then add in the ginger paste. Fry lightly and then rub over both sides of fish, covering the top with more of the ginger mixture. Pour the soy sauce around the fish and then steam for about 15-20 mins. Spoon the sauce at the bottom of the dish over the fish again before serving.



Told you it was easy!

The fish is best eaten with rice or even on its own. I like this dish because you get the flavour of the fish itself as its not overpowered by curry or other sauces.



Aside from being easy, its the kind of dish that is always spectacular when served at the table whole. Whenever we order it in restaurants though, I always ask for Wan Yee (Common Carp/Grass Carp) as the meat is really chunky with very few small bones. I chose to make this dish with pomfret because it is relatively small and isnt too expensive. Pomfret may not be a particularly pretty fish but you can use any other fish (or pieces of fish) instead.

Whatever fish you decide to use, this is a delicious way to steam your fish and I will definitely be making it again...and again!



Saturday, 6 February 2010

Sarah Makes Banana Choc Chip Muffins



This afternoon I made a batch of Banana Choc Chip Muffins. I've always wanted to combine banana with choc chips and so I thought I would modify my Choc Chip Muffin recipe to include bananas.

My son was spending the afternoon at a friend's house so I got my little princess to help me out with the muffins. This is really the FIRST time she has helped me bake a cake from start to finish and I must say that it was really enjoyable explaining every step and making the muffins with her. She was very keen to learn too!


Mashing the Bananas


Creaming the Butter and Sugar


Laying out the muffin cups


Filling the Muffin Cups. We actually used a weighing scale to make sure each cup was filled the same - 3.2ozs for each cup! On hindsight, maybe we could have filled the cups more and had fewer muffins.


Getting ready to bake the muffins


The act of putting the muffins into the oven...


Sarah was really excited and couldn't wait till the muffins were baked. I sent her to check on the muffins periodically and she was thrilled how they started to rise after being a liquid like mass.

Finally the muffins were ready and you can see how proud she was of her effort!



This is my recipe for Banana Choc Chip Muffins


Ingredients
3 bananas (200g)
250 g Butter
220 g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
250 g Flour
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Honey
2 tsp Vanilla
200 g Chocolate Chips


Method
Peel Bananas and mash
Cream butter and Sugar till light and fluffy
Add beaten eggs a little at a time and continue beating
Fold in Sifted flour and baking powder
Add in Honey and Vanilla. Mix Well. Add in the Mashed banana and then Fold in Chocolate Chips ensuring it is well mixed
Fill muffin cups ¾ full and bake for about 25-30 minutes or till done in 190°C oven





The proof of the pudding is in the eating and Sarah couldnt wait to stuff her face with the muffins. She really enjoyed these and its no surprise as the muffin was very very moist with the addition of bananas and the choc chips complemented the slight banana flavour very well.





I enjoyed the muffins with a cup of tea but they were delicious all on their own! As I said the muffins were really tasty and really moist but perhaps if I bake them a little longer, they may hold their risen shape a bit more and not be so dense and moist. Dont care really as they were very yummy indeed!


Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Not just Vadai but spinach Vadai...



Vadai is a favourite savoury snack with its origins from South India. In Malaysia, many South Indian shops sell Vadai mostly at tea time but some sell them throughout the day as well. You also find Vadai sold in hawker stalls.

I am familiar with two types of Vadai - Ulunthu Vadai that is doughnut shaped and softer as compared with Paruppu Vadai that is rounded and is made with lentils and more crunchy. I'm sure there are other types of Vadai as well but these two are the most common.

Often in Malaysia, whenever you have family of friends coming over in the evening, you will buy a whole stack of Vadai to enjoy with a cup of tea (or coffee or cold drinks as may be the case). Vadai is just as famous as Currypuffs are in Malaysia.

I have to say that Vadai is the kind of thing that we would never imagine making. It looks too difficult and since its so easily available in the shops, we have never ever imagined making it.





The Lovely Wife however, decided she was going to try out a recipe from one of her Indian cookbooks. This Vadai is a little different. It is a version ofParuppu Vadai that uses spinach as one of the ingredients. That is rather uncommon and I believe made this Vadai all the more tasty.

This is her take on the recipe that comes from Indian Shortcuts to Success by Das Sreedharan

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups yellow split peas
250g spinach leaves, with stems removed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, chopped finely
1 inch ginger, minced
10 curry leaves, chopped
salt

Method
Soak the pentils in a large bowl for about an hour. Meanwhile, blanch the spinach in hot water until just cooked. Set aside to cook then chop finely.
Drain the lentils and then process in the food processor till it becomes a coarse paste. Don't grind it too fine as you want some texture to the paste. Tip into a large bowl and add the spinach, onion, ginger, chillies and curry leaves. Season with salt and then mix well.
Divide mixture into small portions and roll into the size of a golf ball with your hands. Flatten into a small round patty.
Heat some vegetable oil in a deep wok or frypan till hot. Deep fry the patties until a deep golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.




To say the the Vadai turned out well would be an understatement. They were simply fabulous! As I said earlier, the spinach added a nice touch to the Vadai. Making the vadai was no where near as complicated as we thought it would be and actually it turned out to be rather easy.

This is the kind of food that people will be in awe of when they find that you prepared it at home. The Vadais didn't last very long and the main culprit that kept wolfing them down was none other than Me!



The Lovely Wife reckons that the next time she makes these, she will add some chopped dried chillis to the mix for a bit of a piquant zing. I can't wait till she makes it again...

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