Monday, 28 March 2011

Match-making with Pasta & Sauce

Long or short, smooth or ridged, thick or thin, with or without curves and crevices, different shapes of pasta capture and absorb sauce differently. Match correctly and you have hit upon a pleasing interplay of textures and flavours.



Pasta shapes and Sauce Pairings

The basic rule to follow is that the size of your pasta should match the size of vegetables or meats within the sauce as also the texture of the sauce itself. Choosing the right shape for your pasta will depend on how chunky or smooth the sauce is. When a sauce has smaller chunks of veggies or meats smaller pastas tend to pair well. A light sauce matches well with thin pasta.  If using larger chunks, choose a large pasta shape like penne or rigatoni.

Have fun with your pasta and imagination. Pasta is extremely versatile, and comes in a large range of shapes and sizes, with a number of different sauces to match. Pasta is so much more than spaghetti and meatballs or macaroni and cheese! It is a food for all occasions, just let your culinary creativity soar.
Perfect pasta pairings: Macaroni & Cheese; Lasagna & Tomato based Sauces-Napolitana, Arabiatta, Meat Sauces ; Spaghetti & Aglio Olio, Pesto, sea food, meat balls; Penne & Pesto, Alfredo, Arabiatta, Bechamel; Fusilli & all creamy white sauces, pesto and lumpy tomato-based sauces

Butter Sauces: Butter sauces are prepared in a rich base of melted butter instead of oil and offer a luscious and smooth texture to the sauce.  Add a dash of some aromatic herb like rosemary and you have a real winner. Pasta shapes that work well with butter sauces are linguine, fettuccine, farfalle and spaghettini (thinner form of spaghetti). The butter glazes the long ribbons uniformly giving a good consistency to the dish and also prevents the long pasta shapes from sticking together.

Oil-Based Sauces: Sauces where the oil is the main flavouring ingredient like Aglio Olio e pepperocine or pesto. In these sauces, the essence of olive oil come out strongly and gives a lovely savoury flavour to the dish. Sesame oil heated with roasted sesame seeds and celery tossed with spaghetti is a delightfully simple dish to savour. Spaghetti, Tagliatelle, trenette go well with oil-based sauces such as pesto and aglio and olio. The oil works to keep the longer noodles from sticking together, and coats the noodles well. Pesto also pairs well with fusili and penne as the smooth, thick sauce gets trapped in the ridges and notches of the pasta shape.

Cheese Sauces: Sauces such as Alfredo, bechamel or cheddar sauces which have a lot of cheese content work best with smaller pasta, such as macaroni, fusilli, penne, macaroni and pasta shells as the sauce sticks to their surfaces and also gets stuffed into their interiors. Fusilli works perfectly with a dense, creamy sauce which clings to all its twists and curls.

Tomato Sauce: These sauces are made from tomato puree or tomato chunks like Arabiatta, Nepolitana, Marinara flavoured with aromatic herbs. For a thinner sauce made with tomato puree, longer noodles such as spaghetti, linguine or fettucine are suitable but for a thicker tomato sauce having lumps of fresh chopped tomato with vegetables, smaller odd shapes like fusili, penne, rigatoni pair better.

Meat Sauces: These sauces have  meat as their  major flavouring ingredient. Shapes with notches like fusilli and orecchiette pair well with meat sauces as the chunks of meat get trapped in the pasta. These shapes, along with a suitable meat sauce, provide a rich textural experience.

Soups: Egg noodles work well with thinner broths, whereas smaller noodles such as tubetti, Cepellini, vermicelli are good to add to thicker soups.

Vegetable Sauces: These can be sauces made from pureed veggies or just pasta tossed with fresh chopped vegetable. Just like the meat sauces, look for pasta shapes that have crevices to catch and hold the vegetables. Orechiette, Conchiglie, macaroni, fusili are pastas that go great with vegetable sauces.

For long and thin pasta like spaghetti, slice the vegetables into long thin pieces to compliment the pasta. The opposite also holds true, cut vegetables into cube like pieces when adding to thick odd shaped pasta like penne.

You can be less particular when matching fresh homemade pasta with sauces. The nuances of shapes and texture are less pronounced in fresh pasta than in dried. Fresh pasta carries and absorbs any sauce more readily than does dried. Fresh pasta generally follows the same rules as dried.

Play match-maker and enjoy a perfectly prepared pasta dish.

Also, you can buy white butter online from Natures Basket store at best prices!!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bon Apetit

The French have always had a sensual love affair with food and their reverence for gastronomic pleasures is evident from their rich and flamboyant culinary traditions. Their avant-garde contributions to the world of culinary pleasures has been Haute cuisine meaning “high cuisine” where unlike in the middle ages where the dishes were rich and elaborate, this new style concentrated on creating lighter dishes that were relatively easy to prepare with more emphasis on presentation. The dynamic French cuisine is a result of constant change and a collection of regional specialities that focus on fresh ingredients, extensive use of butter, fresh herbs, cheese and wines.

This week we bring to you the enchanting delights of French cuisine as we share with you some gourmet French recipes. Do visit our stores for a demonstration on French cooking with Chef Cedric of Chez Vous French Bistro and avail of the great offers on French Products on the 23rd at Juhu, Mumbai and on the 24th of March with Chef Vikram from Olive Bar & Kitchen at Delhi, from 4pm to 6 pm.

Recipes:

Open sandwich of mushrooms and goats cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 400 g mixed mushrooms

  • 2 spring onions finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

  • Sea salt o taste

  • Fresh ground black pepper

  • 4 slices good quality bread

  • 100 g mixed baby leaves

  • 150 g goat’s cheese

  • 50 g toasted nuts (optional)


Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and toss the mushrooms until gently browned.

  2. Add the onion and cook until they are soft. Add the wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

  3. Toast the slices of bread and top with salad leaves and mushroom. Sprinkle with crumbled goat’s cheese.


Crostini with sardines, mustard and lemon baisil

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin sardines in lemon basil

  • 1 egg yolk

  • Slices of good quality bread

  • 1 bottle Dijon grain mustard


Method:

  1. Drain the sardines and reserve the oil. Toast the bread lightly and set aside.

  2. Whisk the egg yolk until it thickens. Slowly add the reserved oil and form a mayonnaise

  3. To assemble, spread the mustard on the bottom of the toast and top with the sardine.

  4. Gently spoon the mayonnaise on top and garnish with red pepper.


Apricot Upside-down Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet readymade pastry sheet

  • 1 jar bonne maman apricots

  • Lune de mile maple syrup

  • 20 g butter


Method:

  1. Drain the apricots and dry well.

  2. Melt the butter and mix gently with maple syrup. Remove from the heat and arrange the apricots.

  3. Gently place the pastry sheet on top and bake until golden brown.

  4. Invert carefully onto a plate and cut. Serve with whipped cream.





Blueberry Vacherin

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar borde blueberries

  • 100 g caster sugar

  • 3 egg whites

  • A pinch of salt


Method:

  1. Preheat the oven. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

  2. In a bowl, lightly crush the blue berries and set aside.

  3. Place the egg whites and salt in a clean dry bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gently and continue whisking until the mixture becomes stiff. Spoon into moulds and bake until ready. Remove and allow it to cool.

  4. Serve with ice cream.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Recipes from Lebanon

The temperatures are rising as the warm South-Western Winds are bringing in their wake a humid and hot summer. Summer inspires
fashion, holidays, quick getaways to cool hill-stations and most importantly it inspires food. We find extraordinary joy in savouring
something cooling and refreshing after a hot tiring day or conjuring up a quick and nippy snack for lunch when the sun, at its peak
snatches all our tolerance and calm.

But do not let the heat restrict you to only a few cool cucumbers or watermelons, for there lies before you a world of luscious warm-
weather treats that quell your hunger and give joy to your taste-buds. Following up on our last week’s post about Lebanese food where we introduced our new range of Middle-Eastern Al-Fez products , this week we bring to you two Lebanese recipes to help you keep cool and tackle the heat waves.

Tabbouleh :

Tabbouleh works excellently as a vegetarian side dish, salad or even a quick wholesome lunch. The lemon, herbs, tomatoes, and
cucumbers in this Middle-Eastern dish offer a fresh succulence that will instantly perk you up.

Serves: 4
The classic Middle Eastern tabbouleh is a bulgur salad with parsley;

Ingredients:
Substitute the Bulger with Daliya

  • ½ cup fine organic bulgur or daliya
    1 ½ cups minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1 bunch green onions, sliced fine
    1 large tomato, peeled and diced
    3 tbsp organic extra-virgin olive oil
    3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
    ½ tsp ground toasted cumin seeds
    salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Method:

Place bulgur or Daliya in a bowl, cover with cold water and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Then drain, place in a clean kitchen towel or a
double thickness of cheesecloth and squeeze dry.

Transfer to a bowl and, with a fork, separate into individual grains. Stir in the parsley, green onions, tomato, mint, olive oil and lemon
juice.

Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but bring to room temperature
prior to serving.

Hummus dip

This savoury dip is full of protein and makes a delicious dip for pita bread and raw veggies. You can also use it as a sandwich spread or
topping for crackers. Chill it before serving and dip away to refresh your palate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (Kabuli channa) sea salt to taste,

  • 2 cloves garlic,

  • ½ tsp cumin powder,

  • 1 green chillies (optional)

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • 1 tbsp Al Fez Tahini Dressing


Method:

To make dip, place everything in a blender and blend to a coarse texture, drizzle with a little olive oil and leave in fridge to chill.

Serve with crudités, crackers or pita bread.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Food notes from Lebanon

A unique cultural past has helped make Lebanese food the most popular of all Middle Eastern cuisines. For most of its past, Lebanon has been ruled by foreign powers that have influenced the types of food the Lebanese ate. Ancient tribes journeyed throughout the Middle East, carrying with them food that would not spoil easily, such as rice and dates and this led to the evolution of Lebanese culinary culture.

The Lebanese gastronomy is a rich mixture of various products and ingredients coming from the different Lebanese regions. Olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon are typical flavours found in the Lebanese diet. A perfect balance of dairy products, meat, fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, food in Lebanon is one of the most colourful and well garnished cuisines that one can come across.


Try out a nutritious pita wrap using our Lebanese products to make a healthy snack.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes;  Serves: 2

Ingredients:



  • 4 tbsp Falafel Mix

  • 2 pita pockets

  • 2 tbsp tahini dressing

  • 2 tbsp Tabouleh

  • 2 tsp Sumac

  • Olive Oil for frying the falafels


Method:

Heat the oil in a pan. Scoop up the falafel mix and shape into balls/bullets/patties. Fry four of these in the oil till they turn crisp and brown. Set aside

Open up the pita pockets and stuff them with tabouleh. Place 2 falafel patties inside each pocket.

Drizzle tahini dressing and sprinkle the sumac spice mix.

Either serve warm by heating it up a bit in the oven for 2 minutes at 200 C/400 F or serve cold just the way it is.



Read on to know more about our collection of Lebanese products by Al Fez:

Falafel Mix: A ready-to-use mix to make fresh, hot falafels at home within minutes of experiencing those pangs of hunger. Shape them in the form of bullets, nuggets or patties and serve in warm pita bread, stuffed with salad and topped with hummus, tahini or mayonnaise. Try serving Falafel patties served on a bed of salad leaves and drizzled with your favourite dressing!

Tahini Dressing: This nutritious creamy paste is made from crushed sesame seeds with a lovely nutty aroma and a fresh zesty flavour. Mix Tahini with Hummus for a rich and intense hummus experience or use as a dip for falafels, pakoras, frech fries and a host of other finger foods. Pour this dressing to liven up your salads or simply use a dip for chopped vegetables and bread.

Tabouleh: Tabouleh is one of the most popular salads or side dishes in the Middle East,

A zesty scented salad of bulghur, mint & parsley tastes perfect when served chilled.

This versatile dish can be eaten as a salad on its own, as an accompaniment or used as a tasty filler in a Lebanese wrap.

Sumac (Spice Mix): Sumac is a deep red berry with a wonderfully sharp & tangy

taste. Sumac is considered essential for cooking in much of the Middle East; it served as the tart, acidic element in cooking much like lemons. Sumac is great sprinkled on kebabs and in s alads ad pairs exceptionally well with raw onions. You can add it to rice and couscous for fantastic colour and flavour.  Next time a recipe demands you to squeeze a lemon, substitute it with a gorgeous sprinkling of sumac for delightful twist.

Zahtar (Spice Mix): A herby and aromatic blend of thyme and sesame seeds is just what is needed to enliven that boring salad or to make that dull plate of rice or couscous interesting to the palate. Sprinkle over salads, vegetables and flatbread or mix with olive oil to make a delicious dipping oil. Make spiced pita chips by cutting open a pita pocket, drizzling the inside with olive oil and sprinkling a generous measure of Zahtar. Grill until crisp.