Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Nature's Basket Signature Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf





The tradition of making a dense rich cake filled with spices, candied fruits and nuts first
began in England. Fruit cakes were first made in the 15th century, when exotic spices, nuts
and fruits were first introduced to the English by the traders. These cakes were so rich
that they were banned during the 18th century across most of Europe. A law was passed
which stated that fruit cakes could only be baked on certain festivals and special occasions;
Christmas being one of them. They were thought to be too decadent for daily consumption.
Since then the tradition remains, and people world over indulge in fruit cakes on Christmas
Day.

Try out a Christmas cake with a difference; one that’s bursting with dried fruits in rainbow
colours! Our shelves boast a range of dried fruits that go far beyond just raisins and fruit peel.
Dried Turkish Apricots, Gourmet Dates, Cranberries, Red Raisins, Blueberries, Pineapple,
Papaya and Prunes are all naturally sweet and incredibly colourful and offer a world of
new flavours to add to Christmas Cakes and Bakes. Rushina has the ideal recipe for all this
exotica with the Natures Basket Signature Fruit and Nut loaf.
We guarantee, you will LOVE it!

Nature's Basket Signature Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf



3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 cups coarsely chopped mixed nuts (pecans, hazelnuts, or pine nuts , walnuts,
almonds)

3 cups dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, dates, blueberries figs, dried pineapple,
Apricots) chopped

3 large eggs

1 vanilla bean, chopped fine

Time & Portion Size: Time 2 hours
Serves 6-8

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place the rack in the centre of the oven.
Butter or spray with oil spray, a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 12 cm) (8 cup) loaf pan and line the bottom
of the pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the
brown sugar, walnuts and dried fruits. Use your fingers to make sure that all the fruits and
nuts have been coated with the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer) the eggs and vanilla
until light coloured and thick (this will take several minutes). Add the egg mixture to the fruit
and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter. Spread
into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.

Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes or until the batter is golden brown and has pulled away from

the sides of the pan. (If you find the loaf over browning, cover with aluminium foil.) Remove
from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When cool, lift the loaf from the pan. Cut into
small slices with a sharp knife.
To store, cover with plastic wrap or aluminium foil. This loaf is best after being stored for
a couple of days. It can be kept for about 2 weeks at room temperature or for a couple of
months in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Bakes




What better time to stand beside a hot oven than during the cold winter? When it's chilly outside and you are wrapped in woolens, a freshly baked piece of cake gives you all the warmth you need. So it isn't surprising that bakes goodies are an integral part of Christmas traditions all over the world. Women in the family consult each other, browse through old recipe books and bring out the packed up baking trays in time for the season, to treat loved ones to traditional sweets. Though the basic preparations remain the same, each family has their own secret ingredient or unique method of doing things, which results in innumerable variations of the same recipe.

The centrepiece of most Christmas feasts is the Christmas Fruit cake. What defines a fruit cake is the use of dried raisins, currants, sultanas, orange peel, pine nuts and almonds. Usually these are candied or soaked in liquor for several weeks. The fruit cake can be as moist or dry as one desires. Traditionally the fruit cake was served without any frosting or decorations. Of course, there is no rule about this. Marsipan or fondant are often used to decorate the Christmas cake.

Mince Pies are another popular Christmas treat; little cups of pastry stuffed with rich, sweet, sticky fruit. Fruits like green apples, cherries, sultanas, raisins and currants are cut up and candied along with lemon rind, orange peal and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Brandy or rum are usually used in the mixture as well. However a alcohol-free version can be made using orange juice. Modern versions use fruits like strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, prunes and other fruits. They make a great bit sized treat, that are almost universal in appeal.



The Yule Log cake or Buche de Noel is an integral part of European Christmas traditions. The Yule log cake is a chocolate cake fashioned to look like a yule log, which is burned in the fireplace during Christmas time. A flat sheet of four-less chocolate cake is layered with chocolate frosting and rolled into a cylinder. It is then decorated with chocolate icing, and typically served with meringue that are crafted to look like mushrooms. Though created by the French, this whimsical Christmas cake has become a favourite world over.



Christmas cookies are a must during the season. They don't always make their way onto the Christmas lunch table, but at this time of the year pantry shelves must be stocked with jars of cookies to accompany warm cups of cocoa, milk or coffee. Cookies have been a part of Christmas celebrations since medieval times. They can be simple shortbread cookies or elaborately decorated ones filled with chocolate, nuts and fruit. In several parts of the world children keep a glass of milk and cookies near the Christmas tree for Santa to snack on when he sneaks in!



It's time to bring out those oven mitts and mixing bowls! Make sure you've stocked up on all the ingredients you need. If you plan on baking a traditional fruit cake, it's time to start soaking your fruits and nuts in brandy, rum or cointreau. Very soon we will bring you our own special Christmas cake recipe!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Masterchef Judges, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, visit Godrej Natures Basket!


The most recognised and loved faces of Australia after Brett Lee, Australia’s Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris, from Masterchef Australia, are visiting Mumbai as a part of Oz Fest from 21 to 23 October. And the first stop on their itinerary is your own Godrej Natures Basket! Yes Gary and George, are coming to our stores in Mumbai and Delhi.

Over four seasons, contestants on Masterchef Australia have cooked up a storm with audiences young and old. Oz Fest is now bringing Gary and George out of our living rooms and into our lives here in Mumbai. The visit will give Gary and George the opportunity to meet some of the many fans of Masterchef Australia, and have an interactive session with them. The Masterchefs will be coming to our Store in Mumbai on 22 Oct and the Store in Delhi on 26th Oct.

Win a chance to meet the Masterchefs at an exclusive event in Mumbai and Delhi!
Tell us what you would cook for Gary and George at this Contest link and if your answer is whacky enough you could win a chance to meet the Gods of food.

3 of the wackiest entries will be shortlisted to participate in a cooking standoff to be judged by Gary and George. The winner will win a hamper worth Rs. 4000 along with an autographed copy of a Cookbook written by one of the Masterchefs Gary or George. Runners up will win hampers worth 2500.

Gary Mehigan is a British-Australian chef, restaurateur who loves pork crackling and puddings. Gary, trained at the Connaught and Le Souffle in London prior to moving to Melbourne in 1991.Having  headed the kitchen in some of Melbourne's most prominent restaurants, including Browns, Burnham Beaches Countryside and Hotel Sofitel he went on to open the award-winning Fenix in Richmond in 2000 and later the Maribyrnon Boathouse.

George Calombaris is a Greek-Australian chef and owns three restaurants in Melbourne and one in Mykonos, Greece. George who draws on his Greek and Greek Cypriot heritage for inspiration cannot handle too much chilli in his food. His flagship Melbourne restaurant, The Press Club, was awarded The Age Good Food Guide "Best New Restaurant 2008" with Calombaris named 'Chef of the Year 2008'.




Monday, 13 August 2012

The Heart Of Italy - Minestrone


The best way to describe Italian soups is to call them hearty! The Italians combine fresh veggies with loads of nutritious beans flavoured with aromatic herbs and yummy cheese to make some extremely beautiful soups. Due to its unique origins and the absence of a fixed recipe, minestrone varies widely across Italy depending on traditional cooking times, ingredients, and season. Minestrone typically includes lots of leafy greens, other veggies, and beans. Which to choose? You're only limited by the contents of your refrigerator and pantry.

Whatever the recipe is, the overall flavour is pleasant and warming! It is jam-packed with goodness and will do anyone who eats it the world of good! You can either keep it hearty and chunky or you can cook the soup without the pasta in it, whiz it up in a blender, pour it back in the saucepan with some pasta and cook until the pasta is soft. Delicious! So go ahead and make one using the recipe given below. You will find all the required ingredients at any Nature’s Basket Store!

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

·         1 tablespoon olive oil 
·         1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped 
·         1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped 
·         2 carrots, washed and chopped 
·         2 sticks celery, chopped
·         1 zucchini, chopped 
·         1 small leek, washed and chopped
·         ½ teaspoon dried oregano
·         1 bay leaf 
·         7-8 chopped plum tomatoes 
·         1 large potato, scrubbed and diced 
·         1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained 
·         4 cups vegetable broth
·         ½ cup small pasta shapes
·         A bunch of basil
·         1/8 teaspoon sea salt 
·         A large pinch freshly ground black pepper 
·         5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

1.    Heat a large pot over a medium heat and add a lug of olive oil. Cook the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, leek, oregano and bay leaf for about 15 minutes, stirring now and then, until the vegetables have softened.
2.    Add the tomatoes, potato, chick peas and vegetable broth, then cover with a lid and bring everything slowly to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes and then verify whether the potato has cooked through.
3.    Add the pasta and cook for 10 more minutes till it has softened. If the soup is too thick for you after cooking the pasta, thin it with a little more broth or water.
4.    Add chopped basil leaves into the soup. Finish by seasoning with a little salt, black pepper and grated parmesan.
EQUIPMENT LIST


The Soup of India


Soups originally evolved from peasant cookery and virtually every country has a national soup. National soups differ from country to country because of their ingredients and the influence of local food products.  All have their individual taste, aromas and historical backgrounds which reflect the gastronomic culture from which they originated.

The national soup of India is the Mulligatawny. Mulligatawny Soup was actually the anglicised version of the Tamil “Melligu -Thanir”. (“Melligu” means pepper and “Thanir” meaning water or rasam). As the name suggests it was originally just pepper in a watery soup.

The original Mulligatawny Soup can be traced back to the early days of the East India Company in Madras to around the 18th century. Supposedly, it was simply an invention to satisfy the British officers who demanded a soup course for dinner from a cuisine that had never produced one till then. The Tamil servants in those days concocted a stew like dish that contained pepper and water on the lines of their local Rasam. It was an interesting mix of East meets West, and was the nearest thing to soup in the cuisine of Colonial India.

Recipes for mulligatawny were quickly brought back to England by the British and its popularity spread throughout the country. It has made a lasting impression on British cuisine right down to the present day, though it has undergone many changes. It is now available even in cans in some stores in the UK. It is still an excellent “Comfort” dish on a cold rainy day and will surely lift the spirits when one is down in the dumps.

Mulligatawny Soup –

Ingredients:

·         2 tbsp butter or olive oil
·         2 stalks celery, chopped
·         1 carrot, peeled and chopped
·         1 large onion, peeled and chopped
·         4 cups stock
·         1/4 cup red lentils
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         1 tbsp curry powder or bullion/stock cube
·         1-2 cups cooked rice
·         1/2 cup raw apple, chopped fine

Method:

1.    Sauté the celery, carrots, onion, and pepper in the butter at a low heat until the onion is translucent.
2.    Stir in the curry powder to blend and cook for a minute.
3.    Pour in the stock, add the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add apple and then puree in a blender. Strain the solids. Return to the pot, add salt and pepper.
4.   When ready to serve, bring the soup to a simmer and add the rice.

Slurp on Soups



Soup is the synonymous with comfort food. It is recognized as a wonderful soul warming food filled with wholesome ingredients and fantastic flavours. Soups are quite versatile and ideal as appetizers or starters, as a side dish, or as a one-pot meal. They make a wonderful addition to any meal, and once you make a pot or two, you'll discover it isn't really that hard to make. Final adjustments can be made before the soup hits the table. Some soups are finished with special sauces and garnishes, allowing each guest to create a dish that suits their particular taste.
High-quality stock is the backbone of any soup recipe. Although not difficult to make, stock does require a couple hours of cooking time, but the flavourful result is well worth the effort. Making stock also is a great way to use up items that would otherwise be thrown out, such as bones, shells, celery leaves, and carrot tops.
Here is an easy recipe for vegetable stock for you to try. Simply visit any of our stores and pick up all the essential ingredients –

Makes about 1L of stock

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

·         1 tbsp olive oil
·         ½ onion, diced
·         ½ leek, diced
·         1 carrot, diced
·         3 garlic cloves, left whole and gently crushed
·         20 black peppercorns
·         8-10 button mushrooms
·         1 stick celery, diced
·         3 tomatoes, diced
·         3-4 fresh parsley stalks, roughly torn
·         2 Bay Leaves

Method:

1.      To make the vegetable stock, add the olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat.
2.      Add the onion, leek and carrot and sweat for 2-3 minutes.
3.      Add enough cold water to generously cover the vegetables and turn up the heat to high.
4.      Add the garlic, peppercorns, mushrooms, celery, tomatoes, bay leaves and parsley and stir together. Bring        to the boil and boil gently for 15 minutes.
5.      Pour the stock through a sieve. Discard the vegetable pieces or reserve for another use. The liquid stock is ready to be used. It can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or frozen in batches for future use.

Add this to any of your favourite savoury soups for a rich, intense flavour.
Godrej Nature’s Basket is celebrating the warming joy of soups from all over the world, all this month. Watch this space for loads of soupy tricks & recipes and be sure to follow us on facebook & twitter as well!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

It's All about Presentation!

Today, we will share with you a few secrets on the presentation of these mouthwatering delights. The more enticing and alluring you make your food look, the more tastier it is perceived.

 Soft, runny cheeses can be left in their box and guests can use a spoon to scoop the soft cheese onto a cocktail plate or a slice of baguette. Round cheeses, such as Camembert cheese should be cut in half and then into small triangle wedges. Larger firm cheeses should be cut into wedges and placed on their side to be sliced. Square cheeses like Taleggio can be cut diagonally and then into smaller triangle wedges. The rule is that every piece should get a little of the centre, where the cheese is at its strongest and a piece of the rind where it is at its most mature. 

And we are not done yet! Once the selection is finalized, do not forget to add some accessories! Grapes, crackers, wines are classic pairings to cheese. Having already discussed what fruits and nuts pair well with the different types of cheeses, here is a list of wine pairings that you might find helpful! You'll find all these wines and other trimmings at any of our Godrej Nature's Basket Stores.


Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon; Cheeses to Consider:Camembert, Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Parmesan, Blue cheese, Roquefort
Wine: Chardonnay; Cheese to Consider: Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, Gouda, Gruyere cheese, Parmesan, Provolone
Wine: Champagne; Cheese to Consider: Beaufort, Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Chevre, Edam, Gouda, Gruyere, Parmesan
Wine: Chenin Blanc; Cheese to Consider: Camembert, goat cheese - Feta, Chevre
Wine: Chianti; Cheese to Consider: Fontina, Mozarella, Parmesan or Provolone
Wine: Dessert Wine; Cheese to Consider: Blue cheese.
Wine: Merlot; Cheese to Consider: Camembert, Gouda, Gruyere, Pecorino
Wine: Shiraz; Cheese to Consider: Edam, Sharp/Mature Cheddar, Gouda

 So what are you waiting for? Treat your guests to the exotic gourmet evening That definitely is going to have them keep asking for more. 

Plating Your Cheese

We know that cheese can be quite tricky when it comes down to selecting only a few options. You never know how many varieties to serve to ensure a good spread but not overwhelm the palate. It is advisable to serve five cheeses, because this allows you to offer an interesting variety without being too extravagant. 


Allow about 60g of cheese per guest if it is a tasting or appetizer plate before a meal, for a main course, allow 90-100g. How you cut your cheeses is important. Avoid cutting cheeses hours in advance because their flavors are at their peak when they are first sliced! Use a sharp chef's knife for semi-soft to hard cheeses, a thin utility knife for softer cheeses. Don’t forget to dip the knife in warm water and wipe before use.

Its all about presentation folks! The way you compose your platter can influence how well the cheese board is received. Lay your cheeses on the platter in a way that the mildest cheese is at the beginning followed by the strong ones. Your spread can have a mix of a fresh cheese such as a Boursin or Chevre, then the slightly sharp flavoured rind cheese such as a Brie, the stinky ones like the Limburger, Muenster or a Tallegio, cooked pressed cheese such as a Gouda, Chedder, Emmenthal, Gruyere, or even Parmigianino for the less adventurous ones, and one Blue cheese such as a Gorgonzola, Stilton or Roquefort to finish off.

Pick Your Cheese Wisely


A whole counter full of exotic cheeses, all with different colours, textures, flavours and aromas can be quite  dazzling! You might want to get your hands on a bit of everything. However, it is  important to know how different cheeses pair together. Some may be sharp while some might be subtle and delicate. So how do you choose the perfect combination of cheeses?

The most convenient way of selecting cheeses for a platter is to go with a theme. This helps one to dish out an assortment much faster considering the selection is then from dozens and not from the hundreds that are available at Godrej Nature’s Basket.all this month, we at Nature's Basket are having a "World Cheese Fest" where they will be sourcing cheese from all over the world. This gives you all the more reason to get yourself acquainted with the delights of some yummy cheese slices. 

So what exactly must one consider while buying cheese? The Country of origin, milk type, texture, producer, cheese type, rind, matching a wine you are serving – all of these are potential themes for a plate. While this is an easier path, not having a theme also works. Picking one cheese each from the category of milk types –sheep, goat, cow – can create a cheese plate with textural, flavor, and visual treat. Depending on the kind of cheese you select, you can pair it up with nuts and fruits. 

Here are a few pointers to help you decide your cheese platter -

  • Fresh goat and sheep cheeses (Feta, Chevre): figs, fresh peaches, plums. 
  • Double and triple creme (Brie, Camembert, Picolo): Try some dried fruit like apricots, cherries or cranberries. 
  • Blue cheeses (Stilton, Gorgonzola) : Most blue cheeses have a natural sweetness to them and go very well with honey and fruit jams such as membrillo, apple, or cherries. If using fresh fruit I would stick with stone fruit, grapes, green apples or figs. When using dried fruit your options are almost limitless. In particular we like dried apricots, cranberries and figs. They also pair well with caramelized walnuts or hazelnuts and toasted almonds.
  • Cheddars : For fruit, apples. pears, apricots. Nuts are also nice (toasted or caramelized). Jams/compotes such as quince, apricot, fig, blueberry can be a great addition.
  • Gouda: Apples and pears.
  • Smoked cheeses(Smoked cheddar, smoked gouda) : Toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts are nice. 
  • Firm cheeses (Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano): Sharp flavours like pineapple with pepper, or anything with some sweetness and a little bite goes well.
That's all for now folks! Stay tuned for more notes on how to present and compose your cheese platter.


Let's Get Cheesy!


Everyone is a closet cheese addict. No one can get enough of it! Be it the hard parmigiano reggiano, creamy flavoured cheeses or the crumbly Feta, one can indulge in all! Its pretty strange that cheese is such a popular ingredient in India since, Indian cuisine does not really have cheeses in its repertoire. The only indigenous cheese we can call our own is Paneer, or the cottage cheese.


It can get really confusing to decide what cheese platters to serve for dinner parties. How does one decide what cheeses to serve together, what was Gorgonzola, what was the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano? Which was that Cheese with the holes in it? What wine did one serve with cheese? If you've ever had these queries, then they are about to be answered in the most delicious way possible. So keep checking this space as we will be updating it with loads of cheesy tips as part of the "World Cheese Fest" we are currently celebrating at Godrej Nature's Basket with exotic cheeses sourced from all over the world.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

IPL Season is back again!

There is a new epidemic hitting the country; the IPL is back! This time every year the nation is glued to their TV screens as they root for their favorite teams to win in bars and restaurants with some beer and food.

This year avoid the crowds and throw magnificent IPL parties at your own house. Simply grill up some of our sausages and other cold cuts with our ready marinades or fry our ready to eat frozen snacks and serve or for those who prefer to not make a big effort we have a variety of crisps, chips and dips all washed down with your favorite beer from our stores.                                                                   
           
This IPL season just sit back and enjoy the matches with your friends and family and allow us to provide the refreshment. Choose from a variety of gourmet snacks and an international selection of beers from our stores and have an IPL worthy party without any trouble.  Send us some delicious ideas for quick IPL themed snacks using ingredients from our stores and you may win a six pack of beer this IPL season

Monday, 26 March 2012

The Tulleeho! Book of Cocktails

The first cocktail book of its kind with a uniquely Indian focus, The Tulleeho! Book of Cocktails provides you with information about the techniques and different styles of mixing drinks, including easy-to-follow cocktail recipes with accessible desi ingredients. Peppering the recipes are delightful trivia, anecdotes and facts, making the reading priceless for the home bartending enthusiast or even the most serious social drinker.

The inspiration for the book came on an August evening in Delhi,the authors are, pioneers of an array of beverage-tasting formats for consumer audiences, the foremost providers of beverage training and wine education in India, and advisors to some of the world's top beverage companies. Founders: Venky (P Venkatesh), Chanty (Vikram Achanta) and Krishna Nagaraj.