Putting on the Chef Whites

I can't believe I'm wearing Chef Whites!!!

I can’t believe I’m wearing Chef Whites!!!

I’ve been waiting, eagerly waiting; to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard… words and thoughts spilling out of my head… but thanks or no thanks to some unforeseen hindrances I’ve had to wait, wait to tell you about my time in a professional kitchen!!!

“Oh what an interesting Idea! They are letting non-professional cooks into their kitchen. That’s a nice gesture. Should I give it a go? No, no… What do I know about a professional kitchen? OK, I’ll just design the menu. You know, just for fun, I won’t send it in. Ohhhh I like my menu. Should I send it in? Ok let’s show mum and Tan the menu, let’s see what they say… ohh they love the menu. Fine, it’s settled then I’ll send it in.“ – This is the shorter, less painful-to-read version of my train of thought for a few months till I finally decided to throw my apron in the ring to be part of Café Zoe’s One Night Stand Chef.

All dressed up and waiting to be served

All dressed up and waiting to be served

Concept: – A non-professional cook who is passionate about food is given the opportunity to create a menu and work in the Cafe Zoe kitchen.

Date: 14th April 2014

Menu:

★APPETIZERS★

• Roasted onions & baby spinach salad with goat cheese mousse, walnuts & spicy orange dressing

• Crispy calamari mini sandwiches with spicy mayo, carrot & beet chips

★MAINS★

• Grilled aubergine steak with garlic yogurt, spicy tomato relish, pine nuts

• Honey lemon & spicy paprika chicken with creamy polenta, asparagus

★ DESSERTS★

• Chocolate Tart with homemade caramel ice-cream

• Friands drizzled with cream and fresh honey

It took me a while to wrap my head around the entire experience. Never in my wildest dream did I expect to wake up one morning and get ready to go prep for dishes that were created by me, in a professional kitchen! Imagine going from cooking and blogging for little over a year to cooking and prepping in a professional kitchen!!!! This one I did not see coming.

Finally I stepped away from the table and moved into the kitchen. A learning experience, a fun experience and an experience that answered a lot of questions I was too nervous to address when I realized how much food was the career I wanted.

So here it is, I’ll answer those question now… Would I have been a chef had I realized my passion for cooking a bit earlier? Yes.

Am I glad I did not realize my passion early on? YES. Why? Simply because had I become a chef I would never have started a blog or gotten to be a part of all these amazing experiences. I would have loved my job as a chef but I doubt I would have appreciated food and cooking as much as I do now. I doubt I would have been as passionate as I am.

So a big Thank you to: Chef Viraf – Thank you for your guidance and help.

The Zoe team – You guys rock! Thank you for all the help, support and encouragement.

Special thanks to Tarini, Jeremie and Viraf, your generous and gracious gesture made this experience possible.

And a big big big THANK YOU to everyone who made it to Café Zoe for dinner on the 14th. I could not ask for a better bunch of people to call my friends.

And to my family, you guys ate these dishes multiple times at home; when I was testing them out and then showed up at Zoe and devoured them all over again. Nothing I say will adequately express how much I love you!

Foodie Days

The Cook-off is about to begin!

The Cook-off is about to begin!

I went half expecting it to be an exhibition. I went because I wanted to buy some cheese and I knew The Cheese Collective was putting up a stall. I went thinking if nothing else, at least I’ll have a Sunday out with my family. I did not go thinking; I’m going to come back with a bag full of goodies, a belly full of food and a fantastic experience! It was a relaxed day filled with food, cooking, a live band, old favourites and new discoveries… A beautiful Sunday!

I’m talking about Mumbai’s Farmers Market by Karen Anand that took place last Sunday. If you’re an obsessed foodie like me you’ll agree that the city’s food experiences are getting better by the day and this farmers market is proof of just that. The next time the market comes to your city take your family & friends and make a fun day out of it!

Here is a list of what I enjoyed –

My New Discoveries:

  • RAW Pressery – I loved the BUILD juice.
  • Bean Therapy-Artisan Chocolates – My favourites are the Himalayan Pink Salt, Mysore Coffee and Cocoa Nibs. They also have a very interesting Blueberry and Panko flavor.
  • Mystic Kitchen Colors – Strawberry Butter, delicate balance of sweet and salty, perfect on toast or brioche or plain ;)
Bean Therapy - Artisan Chocolates

Bean Therapy – Artisan Chocolates

These guys have been on my radar for a long time, it was a happy surprise when I saw them at the market. Finally we meet….

  • Gourmet It Up – Can’t wait to try out a ‘Gourmet It Up ‘experience.
  • Sushi Koi – I’m craving more already… Spicy Tuna and California Rolls here I come!
  • Sassy Spoon – Brownies & Cookies and I got a goody bag from them too! How sweet!
    Sushi Koi!

    Sushi Koi

    And Old Favourites:

    • The Cheese Collective – The most subtle Blue Cheese, perfect for beginners sold by the most wonderful Cheese Monger – Mansi Jasani.
    • Between Breads – Burgers and Bacon Fries, life is good! This is the place I go to and recommend for that burger fix.
    • BusaGo – Those yummy Chicken Momos…  If I wasn’t so full I would have eaten everything on the menu.
    Mansi Jasani of The Cheese Collective

    Mansi Jasani of The Cheese Collective

    There was a lot more but this is what I managed to fit-in in 3hrs! I’m going back and maybe I’ll bump in to you there! Stay tuned to The Treat Truck FB page for more pictures of the farmers market.

    In other news: The Treat Truck celebrated its 1yr anniversary on the 30th of Jan. A big Thank You to everyone for the love and support! :D

Beginning the year on a savoury note

Dips and all

Dips and all

 

 

 

 

Parmesan Crusted Prawns with 3 Dips

Ingredients:

For 12-15 large prawns you will need:

  • 50gm parmesan, grated
  • 75gms flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Oil, for frying or use a fryer, if you have one

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                       Method:

Ok, this should be fun! Create a production line. Heap the flour on one plate, the beaten egg in a bowl and the grated parmesan on another plate. Place a big clean plate at the end of your production line for the end product.

Now you know how this goes… coat the prawn in the flour, then dip in it in the egg and finally coat with the grated parmesan and place on your clean plate. Do this one at a time to avoid making a mess! Once all the prawns are coated deep fry in hot oil till golden brown. Place the cooked prawns on a paper napkin to soak up the excess oil.

For the dips:

Mayo Dip:

  • 2tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • A squeeze of lime
  • A pinch of freshly cracked pepper
  • Sour Cream and Mustard Dip:
  • 2tbsp sour cream
  • ½ tbsp mustard
  • 2-3 squeezes of lime

Method (same method to be used for both dips):

Place all your ingredients in a bowl and mix well. That’s all there is to it! The dips are ready! Taste as you go along add more of the same ingredients or add your own ingredients to tailor the dips to your taste.

Chilli Oil Dip

  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • A few pinches of finely chopped green onions (spring onions)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil, enough to cover all the ingredients

Method:

Place the chillies, garlic, lime zest, green onions and salt in a very small saucepan. Pour over enough oil to cover the ingredients. Heat till the sides start to bubble; then take the dip off the fire. Serve warm.

The Table Is All Set

The Table Is Set

I know we are well into 2014 and it’s a little late to wish you but, Happy New Year!!! :)

I won’t lie I’ve had plenty of time and opportunities to get back into the kitchen and back to blogging but I didn’t. I was being lazy and ended up in the kitchen on two out of the 14 days I set aside for cooking. On one of the days that I pushed aside laziness and went near the cutting board; I sliced off the tip of my finger with a knife that, in my words, ‘Cuts like butter!’… lol! That’s what you get when you chop in laziness. I am happy to report that the food I was cooking survived and so did I, with finger fully healed now… :)

Laziness ultimately took a back seat as passion fought its way through and I started jotting down recipes and ideas every time I came across an ingredient or watched a cooking show or saw something that looked like food! I’m jumping at all and any cooking opportunity I get now… I can’t wait to see if my ideas will be successes or not.

Now let’s talk about the prawns for a bit. I got the idea for these parmesan prawns while watching a show on food trucks. It’s a must try recipe so don’t let the simplicity of it fool you; when you bite into this deep fried wonder the salty-crunchy parmesan crust crackles and gives way to that sweet-luscious prawn… So get into the kitchen and start cooking!

2013 was a superb year for The Treat Truck and that’s thanks to all of you Treat Trucker’s out there. Thank you for your support! Let’s tuck into 2014 together :D

Hitting Pause

It doesn't get better than this...

It doesn’t get better than this…

I’m hitting pause. I’m going on leave. I’m taking a break. For the first time ever I’m not happy about going on leave but, I have to. There are a ton of things happening and I don’t want The Treat Truck to seem neglected.

But, I’ll be back soon. I’ll head straight into the kitchen and I’ll cook up enough to feed a village with exciting new dishes, savoury (I promise) and sweet (how can there not be sweet!). I hope you miss me. I know I’ll miss you :)

Stay tuned to the FB page for updates on my foodie life, I’m only taking a break I can’t possibly stop eating now, can I? ;)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Treat-Truck/144440575718765?ref=hl

For a cause…

Immunity Building Juice

Immunity Building Juice

Cancer Patients Aid Association’s (CPAA) Rose Day is an initiative that was launched in 1994.To know more about this awesome day check out the website http://www.cancer.org.in

Rose Day 2013 is fast approaching (22nd September) so let’s lend a helping hand in any way we can.

Why not start with a small movement; a movement involving food to help anyone we know who is fighting against cancer…

So when  Joan Shenoy (Aunty Joan to me), CPAA’s then Director Communications & Chairperson, approached me to start a small movement among The Treat Truck readers, I was beyond happy and visibly honored to be a part of this day in any way I could and I am sure, dear reader, you feel the same way.

After talking to Aunty Joan this is what I found out, there are two super recipes that are not only easy to make but will help in the fight against cancer.

Get your ingredients ready and let’s make either the ABC Juice – Apple, Beetroot and Carrot Juice…enhanced with a squeeze of lemon and a mint leaf, this juice helps in building immunity or we could make Pumpkin Soup – Yellow veggies help to fight cancer too.

Try Donna Hay’s Roasted Pumpkin Soup (recipe available on the net) it’s easy and delicious. You can leave out the pouring cream in Donnay Hay’s recipe or substitute it for milk, but add the milk carefully to get the consistency of soup you want.

So here is what we are thinking… let’s band together, on the 22nd of September, by making either of the above two recipes or both, if you like, and take it to anyone you know who is fighting cancer. Let’s give a helping hand, small as it maybe, let’s make this 22nd of September count.

Illustration courtesy Tanishka D’lyma. 

Kumquat Crème Caramels

Simple Ingredients

Simple Ingredients

It’s been an exciting time here at The Treat Truck, with Chefs being featured, radio host Hrishikesh K interviewing me on his show and most recently I was at a dinner hosted by Tourism Australia for Chef Matt Moran of MasterChef Australia fame!

As I sat down for the dinner hosted for Chef Moran and intently listened to him talk about how he began cooking when he realized at 15 that he and school did not get along and so they made ‘A mutual decision to quit each other’. He spoke about how fresh produce excites him and how everyday he is still learning.

Listening to him I was excited about one aspect – I’ve only just begun and I have so much more to learn! So I am going to keep growing & learning. I know food will always excite me, just like all things ‘food’ excite the Chefs featured on my blog! I can’t believe I found my passion and the route, the Lord guided me through, to get here is one I would never trade for anything.

The support and love I’ve received from friends and obviously my family have been amazing and humbling, to say the least. It’s been fun. Super fun. And I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.

Since we are celebrating I wanted to make something simple yet fancy but most importantly I wanted to put the focus back on the food! So when I found Kumquats at the supermarket I could not wait to put them to use. So here is my take on the classic Crème Caramels.

Creamy, Silky Creme Caramels

Creamy, Silky Creme Caramels

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 10 Kumquats or the zest of 4 large Clementine oranges
  • 500 ml milk
  • 60gms castor sugar
  • 250gms granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

 

 

Method

Step 1

Cut the kumquats in half and scoop out the pulp, if any of the white pith is left behind gently scrape if off with the back of the knife. Discard the pulp.

Step 2

Blend the kumquat skins and castor sugar in a food processor till you get a wet-ish powdery consistency.

Place the kumquat and castor sugar mix in a saucepan, add the milk and warm together, stirring occasionally. Bring to a gentle simmer and turn off the heat, cover your mix with a lid and leave to infuse for 1 hr.

Step 3

While the milk is infusing make the caramel. Sprinkle a thin layer of granulated sugar on the bottom of a heavy-based pan. Once the sugar melts sprinkle another layer. Continue this method till all the sugar is melted and has turned a deep brown colour. Swirl the pan to help the sugar melt consistently but do not stir or you will end up agitating the sugar molecules causing the caramel to crystallize.

Pour some caramel into a ramekin and swirl immediately, coating the bottom of the ramekin. Repeat for 3 more ramekins.

Step 4

At this stage turn on your oven to 190 C.

In a big bowl lightly beat the eggs, egg yolks and the vanilla extract together and the strain over the orange infused milk. Gently whisk the mixture together until well combined and strain the mixture into a clean bowl, to get a smooth mixture. You can double strain if you think the mix is not smooth enough. With a spoon remove the froth and ladle mix into the prepared ramekins. Fill the ramekins to the brim.

Place the ramekins in a deep roasting pan and fill the tin with hot (not boiling water) so that it reaches the outside of the ramekins by about three-quarters of the way up.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the sides are set and the centers are wobbly.

Tips:

  • Preheat your oven earlier if it takes time to heat up.
  • A good way to know when the custards are done is to poke the center of the custard with a knife, if the knife comes out with the custard coating it you will know that it is done.
  • Do not overcook or under-cook the crème caramels or you will end up with an egg-y tasting dessert.

Check out the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Treat-Truck/144440575718765 the RadioOne interview with Hrishikesh is up now; go have a listen. Pictures of Chef Moran & me along with the four course dinner we had will be put up on the facebook page in the days to come.

Did you know…

Chef Moshe Shek. Photograph from Google Images

Chef Moshe Shek. Photograph from Google Images.

Did you know… that Chef Moshe Shek tried his hand at a number of different things including toying with the idea of becoming a pilot and taking up photography before he decided to become a Chef.

Did you know… he decided to take up cooking as a profession at 21yrs after he worked in the Kibbutz (the fame community kitchens in Israel). His love for food grew from here.

Did you know… he still does food related courses; he considers them a good refresher and great way to learn new things.

Did you know… he spends every New Year in the Moshe’s kitchen cooking. He says if his boys are working on New Year’s he wants to be there cooking with them.

Did you know… he once did a Christmas Cake decoration course, he says the ladies there were quite amused to see a young boy learning to make decorative flowers J

Did you know… he drove from Canada to Vermont to go stay with Goat Cheese farmers so he could learn how to make Goat Cheese! It’s only fair to say the officials at the border were fairly confused as to why anyone would fly all the way from India to Canada and then drive to Vermont to learn to make Goat Cheese; they called the farmers to verify his story! (It only goes to show you the lengths to which foodies, me included, would go to for a good food experience).

Do you know how Moshe’s came to have the largest dessert menu in the country? Chef Moshe Shek spoke to me about this and more when we sat down over a cup of coffee at one of his many Cafes.

The Favourites List:

Favourite dish you ate in Israel

Chef Moshe: Maybe not favourite but the best thing to order is the Mezze. You can include a number of dishes in the Mezze when you order it; always pick the maximum so you can try a variety of dishes.

Favourite food scene in a movie

Chef Moshe: Ratatouille. I was amazed at the details; you don’t expect to see such intricacy in an animated movie. The kitchen and food were portrayed beautifully.

Favourite Restaurant in the world

Chef Moshe: I stay off the tourist path and eat what the locals eat. I recently had an amazing fish dish in Portugal.

Favourite ingredient to cook with

Chef Moshe: Of late it’s Sweet Smoked Paprika (from Spain). My favourite ingredient keeps changing.

Favourite mid-night snack

Chef Moshe: Not favourite but ‘The’ mid-night snack has to be Lindt; first it was the Dark- Chocolate Lindt then it was the Chocolate-Orange flavor and now it’s the Milk-Chocolate one.

Fast Five:

Would you choose…

  • Cookies or Cake?

Chef Moshe: Cake

  • Sorbet or Ice-cream?

Chef Moshe: Ice-cream

  • If you had to cook – Savory or Dessert?

Chef Moshe: Dessert

  • If you had to re-invent – Moshe’s Signature Fondue or Moshe’s Signature Cheesecake ?

Chef Moshe: The Fondue. The Cheesecake is perfect.

  • Pancakes or Waffles?

Chef Moshe: Pancakes

Q & A:

When Caterbility (A catering unit, Chef’s first business venture in India) was at its peak you dropped everything and went back to Israel. What made you take that decision?

Chef Moshe: I had this bug in the back of my head about going back. I always said I would go back and I did not want to regret not doing it when I was 40! So I went back and stayed there for 3 yrs.

What was your experience like working in the Kibbutz?

Chef Moshe: The thing I learnt was working with food and people. You get instant feedback there which is great. It’s a communal feeling and we were one big family.

You have spent a lot of time in India and Israel. Do you find any similarities in the food cultures of the two places or similarities in taste?

Chef Moshe: No similarities. The two are worlds apart!

Childhood food memory you treasure?

Chef Moshe: My mum makes a dish called Shorva. I hate the dish! I detest it! When mum made this dish I would eat biscuits.

Me: This is a childhood food memory you treasure!

Chef Moshe: (Shrugs his shoulders) you say food memory this is the first thing that comes to mind (smiles).

Do you have a sweet tooth? Go-to dessert when you crave something sweet?

Chef Moshe: Yes, I do! Again it depends on where I am travelling. So it was Waffles in Belgian, Gelato in Italy, Custard Tarts in Portugal; even the Starbucks in Portugal had Custard Tarts!

What’s your comfort food?

Chef Moshe: My mum makes Mhasha, a dish of mince stuffed vegetables. It’s delicious!!!

You set the Moshe’s menus. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Chef Moshe: It’s a mix of my travels and what’s in season; things I like to eat also make it on the menu. I used to sit in Goa and now Alibaug and draw up the menus.

Do you cook in your free time? What do you cook for yourself?

Chef Moshe: Baking is a passion. I love baking bread! I even have my own wheat grinder.

Complete the sentence. I make the best…

Chef Moshe: Red Velvet cake.

The one dish you will never try again?

Chef Moshe: Shorva!

And to end with…

Moshe’s has the largest dessert menu in the country. How did that come about?

Chef Moshe: Whenever I went out for a meal I found the dessert page on the menu frustrating; there were the standard choices and maybe one or two other choices on the menu. I did not want to ignore the dessert section on the Moshe’s menu; I wanted people to have a variety to choose from.

Thank you Chef for taking the time to sit down with The Treat Truck; your passion & love of food is refreshing and your eagerness to spend time in the kitchen is proof of that.

Since Chef loves bread and his current favourite ingredient is Sweet Smoked Paprika, I thought why not combine the two! I had this No Knead Bread recipe (from the show – Chuck’s Day Off) so I added my twist to it…

Wholesome Goodness

Wholesome Goodness

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups water – warm
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 360gms flour
  • 1tsp sweet smoked paprika, slightly heaped
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 300 – 360gms whole wheat flour*

Step 1

In a big bowl mix the dry yeast, sugar and warm water. Leave aside till foamy.(if the water is too hot the yeast will die and if too cold it will not activate, you will know the water is at the right temperature if you are able to leave your little finger in the warm water for a few seconds without getting burnt.)

Step 2

When foamy add the vinegar, olive oil, flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Then add the whole wheat flour & the sweet smoked paprika. Mix with a wooden spoon. Make sure to mix well till all the ingredients are equally wet. Divide the dough in half and place in two loaf tins greased with olive oil. Cover with a wet towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes or until it doubles in size.

Step 3

In the last 10 minutes of resting preheat your oven to 260 C (if your oven takes time to heat put it on before 10 minutes) and bake for 50 mins or until golden brown and the top of the bread is hard.

* Add  between 300 – 360 gms of whole wheat flour till you get a dough of floppy consistency. The dough is not a well formed dough but a wet-ish one.

One of the very first cookies I made with my mum was a Moshe’s recipe we found in a newspaper…Sweet memories :)

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