Thursday, 27 November 2014

Thanksgiving: Traditions, Treats and Tricks

A celebration of gratitude spent with family or friends; gorging on delicious food and leisurely catching up on each other’s lives; what’s not to love about that? Traditionally celebrated in the US on the 4th Thursday of November, the Thanksgiving holiday has now surpassed its American roots and is observed globally.

One of the best aspects of such a gathering has to be the sheer variety and diverse flavours put together in a meal that has come to be synonymous with indulgence and culinary gratification. Universally associated with roasted turkey and cranberry sauce, a typical Thanksgiving spread will also trays of relishes or appetizers, cocktails, dinner rolls, stuffing, gravy, devilled eggs, mashed potatoes, salad, blanched veggies and ended with apple, pumpkin or pecan pie. However this day can also be a great opportunity to partake in culinary experimentation. Plan a weekend gathering of your closest family and friends, don an apron, create a memorable meal and raise a toast to the simple, beautiful joys of life.

An integral part of a classic Thanksgiving dinner is a whole, roasted turkey; deliciously moist, tender meat that looks stunning as it is carried to the table and a great cooking technique to attempt and perfect. So go ahead, head down to our store and pick up a whole turkey that’s available all through the festive season. Alternatively, a whole, stuffed and roasted chicken is also a wonderful dinner centre piece that will wow your guests.

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While the roast will be the focus of attention, whet your guests’ appetite by laying out an appetizer tray. Start simply with a cheese board, crackers, fruit or put together a slightly more elaborate platter of olives, pickled onions, baby carrots, stuffed mushrooms or celery sticks filled with goat’s cheese. This will give your guests something to nibble on while chatting with each other and waiting for the big meal.

If this is your first Thanksgiving gathering then a helpful tip to consider is to cut down on prep time and work as much as is possible. For instance, along with the whole bird, pick up peeled garlic, chopped veggies, dinner rolls, low-sodium stock for the soup or gravy, ready-to eat salad mixes that can be dressed up, tart shells to fill and serve as pie. All of these will surely make feeding your loved ones a memorable meal all the more simpler. Another helpful tip is to prep as much as is possible the day before, leaving you relaxed to be play the host.

Since the star attraction of the meal is the roast, plan side dishes that will complement it. Think of creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy Brussels sprouts, a spicy, sweet fig-cranberry relish to round off the flavours and textures of the meal. Or go uber simple with buttery brioche rolls and a generous green salad alongside a slice of perfectly cooked turkey or chicken. To end the Thanksgiving extravaganza serve up small, individual pumpkin pies.

An important tradition of the Thanksgiving meal is eating the leftovers the next day. Be sure to sandwich slices of meat between crusty sourdough bread slathered in relish for a hearty but festive lunch the next day. And as you savour it, remember again the joy of the little blessings in life.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In Salad Heaven

Everyone loves a good meal; one that is freshly cooked, a complex yet perfect balance of flavours which leaves the diner with a deep sense of satisfaction & nourishment. A salad is basically such a meal in a single bowl. An artful combination of select ingredients tossed up to create a meal that is universally renowned for its nutritional goodness and bursting with a melange of flavours.

Imagine juicy orange segments paired with salty olives and zesty fennel shavings on a bed of mildly bitter arugula leaves dressed with orange vinaigrette. Each mouthful brings the five basic tastes together to create a perfect bite. The best part about this simple, elegant dish is that it can be easily personalized or recreated at home. Dont have arugula on hand? Swap it out for a mix of baby lettuce. Or switch the olives with capers.

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One of the reasons why salads are a popular meal across the cuisines of the world is the innumerable possibilities a salad bowl presents. Each person in the world can create their own salad simply by tweaking it to their tastes and preferences. Need to consume iron and vitamin rich foods? Try a kale slaw with spicy marinated tofu in a peanut dressing or combine shredded kale with grated pecorino, season and dress with a lemon-EVOO vinaigrette. 

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Can’t stand leafy, greens or mild flavours? Opt for a spicy Thai Som Tam made by mixing shredded green papaya, bean sprouts, thin sliced onions, ribbons of basil & coriander, cherry tomatoes and toasted peanuts. Flavour this salad with a piquant dressing of minced garlic, bird’s eye chili in fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar. Or convert the pantry staple, pasta itself into a salad. Combine tri-coloured, cooked fettuccine with crumbled feta cheese, slightly blanched broccoli, chopped olives, toasted pine nuts and dress with a red wine vinegar+EVOO vinaigrette.

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All these salad ideas showcase light, elegant, sophisticated recipes as well hearty, rustic salads. The taste, texture, colour and fragrance of each ingredient plays off the other in a marvelous culinary symphony. This is a great tip to bear in mind when building a salad at home. In fact, a salad is also a great canvas against which to try out a new speciality ingredient like roasted peppers, infused oils or vinegar, honey, chili sauces, cheese or even spice blends. Try it out in a pasta, cous cous or quinoa salad to figure out its flavours.

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If the above salad descriptions has you drooling and you need a bowlful of crisp lettuce, veggies, grilled chicken doused in a tangy dressing then simply come down over to the store. 

We have set up salad bars at our Bandra store where you can try out some of these suggestions for yourself. Featuring an extensive range of fresh ingredients in a hygienic set-up, this salad bar will give you a chance to explore and discover your own salad preferences. While at the store browse our shelves and stock up on your favourite salad ingredients and eat healthy delicious meals through the week. We have a wide range of salad greens, veggies, meat, cheese, nuts, fruits, fat-free dressings, oils & vinegars; all of which can be mixed and matched for salad utopia.