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Amita Nene's Yummy Expressions

Amita Nene's Yummy Expressions
Zucchini & Asparagus Rice
There is this premium food store which was a hop and skip from my office and one of my favorites at that. I was a regular there and picked up almost all my grocery needs from there. So just before my last day at work a week back, I made a quick trip to the store during lunch to take a last dig at picking up some of the things that I have so grown used to. Last dig, because I would no longer be visiting there often. It is a nice and long 75-80 minutes drive from my home.
So while I stocked up my regular breads and pastas and pestos and salad bags, I also picked up some fresh zucchini and asparagus. You don’t get these very easily around the place I live, so it was more like an impulse buy.
Back home, I wanted to use both these and dish out some quick yummy food. I squared down on making two dishes - a Pasta Farfalle with Basil Pesto and a Zucchini & Asparagus Rice.
I will take you guys through the pasta preparation some other time, today let’s quickly check out the Zucchini & Asparagus Rice… its quick, nutritious and of course… yummy!!
So we start with 1 fresh zucchini sliced and halved and about 5 spears of asparagus trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces.
We also need,

½ tablespoon of home made clear butter
1 mid-sized onion, chopped
½ teaspoon each of dried spices - oregano, basil & thyme
½ teaspoon of finely chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
2 cups of water
1 cup long grain rice, washed thoroughly.
In a cooking pan, melt butter and add chopped onion and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes till brown and then add the zucchini and asparagus. Saute again for about 5-6 minutes till the veggies are bit tender.
Add the dried spices, pepper and salt. Mix well so that the veggies are fully covered with the seasoning. Add the uncooked rice and stir fry for about 2 minutes and then add the water. Stir well and cook covered on medium flame for about 10-15 minutes or till the rice is tender.
It’s ready to serve! Enjoy while it’s hot.

Coffee Cream Pudding

I celebrated my birthday two months back, all my super enthu friends made this one, a very berry merry extra special for me.
From phone calls at 12am, surprise cake cutting at 5.30am followed by a surprise breakfast party, a relaxed set lunch at a fancy Italian restaurant, flower baskets and cakes got home delivered, a lively family dinner at my favorite haunt and finally cutting a chocolate cake at night; I was on cloud nine having enjoyed all the pampering.
I have this lovely bunch of friends who celebrated my birthday in a most ‘out of the box’ way. I will leave the details for some other time and get straight to the most exciting part of this blog. So along with a number of very peculiar birthday gifts that I got from them, these guys presented me with fresh baked CUP CAKES, number equaling the milestone I reached. JJ
At the end of all celebrations, I was still left with a dozen odd cupcakes. And that was what I would have wanted! Awesome!!! I decided to do the next best thing….
A Coffee and Cream dessert!!
To make yourself a Coffee & Cream dessert, you would of course need…. CUP Cakes!
You also would be using…
4 cups of coffee decoction (2 -3 tsps of instant coffee powder and 2 tsps of sugar dissolved in 4 cups of hot water & cooled)
Vanilla custard of pouring consistency using 500ml milk, with 2 tsp coffee powder blended in
200g Fresh whipped cream with castor sugar OR for those in a hurry, just get a pack of Instant Whipped cream. You will get awesome whipped cream ready in about 6 minutes.
Sweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Some sprinkles for decoration
This dessert is best made directly in serve sized bowls. Once cupcake per bowl.
Starting with cutting the cupcake horizontally in to three layers, set the bottom piece in the serving bowl. Soak it with the coffee decoction till it is fully moist. Pour a layer of the custard mixture. Repeat with middle and top layer of the cake followed by the custard mix. Set in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile get the fresh/ instant whipped cream ready. Take the bowls from the freezer, and add a final layer of whipped cream. Lightly dust the cocoa powder on the top. Cocoa and coffee together leaves this yummy lingering taste in the mouth.
Freeze again for about 15 minutes. And your Coffee & Cream dessert is ready to serve…. Happy binging!

Mango Twist Dessert

The other day Shaina sent me a message on WhatsApp. She was having family over for dinner and she wanted me to give her some quick fix yummy of a dessert.
She was sure she wanted something that uses Mango icecream. So there we were, with the Mango season gone, but Mango flavour still being the favourite amongst ice cream lovers.
Serving mango delicacies with a twist can really tickle the taste buds and leave a lingering taste on your tongue long after polishing the bowl off its contents!
So we met up to discuss recipes over a lunch at our favourite haunt.
 I suggested she use a combination of vanilla cake base with tinned mango pulp and a dollop of fresh Alphonso ice-cream and finish it with a topping with a twist. Had it been the mango season, the obvious choice of topping would have been fresh cut juicy mango pieces. But in this month of July, she had to be more innovative to get a topping to add that twist. I suggested a swirl of fresh whipped cream in case she couldn’t think of something zanier.  But being my friend after all, “normal is boring” is her motto too J .
So here is what she got, to serve 6 people, a Mango Twist dessert. You start with half a pound of vanilla sponge cake cut into thin slabs and positioned at the bottom of each dessert bowl.
Then, we also need,
3 cups of Alphonso mango pulp (fresh pureed or tin)
12 scoops of Alphonso Mango ice-cream or Homemade Low fat Mango Fro – Yo (Frozen Yogurt made from double toned milk for the health conscious  J )
1 cup Fresh cream mildly sweetened
And for the topping – fresh whipped cream or strawberry flavoured jelly set and cut into cubes.
Pour half cup mango pulp into each bowl to cover the entire cake base. Allow the cake to soak the pulp for 10 minutes and then leave in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set.
Out of the refrigerator, drizzle sweetened fresh cream on the set mango cake before you add two scoops of mango ice-cream or the Fro-Yo.
Top it with a swirl of whipped cream and a cherry. Or you can add chunks of strawberry jelly as Shaina did.  She tells me it turned out to be a hit with her guests.
I am going to try my hand this week at giving this dessert its signature by trying out some novel ingredients along with the Fro-Yo.
Do you want to try something innovative with this one too? Let’s try make this preparation healthier and more happening.  Try out your version and write back to me with your yummy expressions!!
Happy innovating!
Will meet you again soon with more creative cuisine…

Its 4pm, I am at work and hubby dear calls to check with me if it is ok to have guests for dinner tonight. It’s his counterpart from across the world in town for the evening and hence there is no scope to check for a reschedule.
So I rush through the rest of my day, scramble through the store to pick few instant soup pouches, some basic ingredients for a quick fix pasta with chicken and veggies, salad veggies and for dessert of course.
My pasta is going to take me about 30 minutes, the soup about 15 minutes and salad another 15 minutes. Considering that I have little over an hour to get my meal ready, I must do a dessert that gets done real fast and can be served soon after preparing it.
And then I thought of the bread pudding my mom used to make with dates and walnuts and serve with 20 minutes of my demand. I modified it to suit the palate of the guests we were expecting and dished out a yummy variation of our good old bread pudding. 
So here we go with a quick fix dessert that is healthy, delicious and ready in a jiffy….
So if we are making the pudding for 3-4 people who would eat a decent helping, we need about 10 slices of whole wheat bread that is 2-3 days stale. Crumb the bread coarsely and line half of it at the bottom of a microwave flat bottom dish.
We also need…
3-4 eggs 

500ml toned milk

1 cup sugar

Few drops of vanilla essence
8-10 Fresh strawberries or 2 banana  sliced
2-3 tbsp of Caramel sauce
Handful of chocolate chips and nougat
Beat the eggs stiff and fold in the milk and vanilla essence. Pour half the mixture on the bread lined in the dish soaking all the bread. Add a layer of the sliced fruits and top it with rest of the crumbed bread covering the entire dish. Pour the remaining mixture on to this. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nougat on the top and microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Insert a knife in the middle of the pudding, if it comes out clean, the pudding is done. Else, microwave for 30 seconds at a time checking continuously if it’s done.
Once ready, allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve topped with caramel sauce.
Seasonal fruits like mango also can be used as a filling and then the pudding can be topped with mango sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds.
If strawberries are used as filling we can also use strawberry sauce and whipped cream as a topping.

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