Chocolate art with Morde

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It all started when I grumbled to a friend about the non availability of a good brand of locally made couverture chocolate that could be used in confectionery and pastry. Imported ones are available but cost an arm and a leg.

That friend was L. Nitin Chordia, India's only certified Chocolate Taster. Within the next 10 minutes, I got a call from Morde Chocolate, Mumbai, telling me they would send across a bar of 55% dark chocolate for me to experiment with. Fast work, Nitin!!

Morde was as good as their word and in due course, a bar of 55% dark couverture was delivered. I used the chocolate on a cake, loved the finish as well as the taste and mailed a picture across to their marketing team. A day later, they called to say they would send across a chef who would demonstrate a few desserts using Morde chocolate, fillings and chips. All I had to do was bake them a sponge cake. Really?

Chef Krishnamoorthy, Morde's senior culinarian created some artwork that morning at a 3 hour demo class for a trio of us. A self taught patissier, it was amazing to see the way he worked, whether it was doing something as mundane as chopping up a block of chocolate to melt it or slicing the sponge cake into layers and decorating it. At the end of 3 hours, we had 3 kinds of desserts, cake pops and a tray of coffee filled chocolates that looked as shiny as little beetles. Along with the 55%, he had also used a 70% couverture.

Moulded chocolates with coffee flavoured filling 


The chef also showed us a quick way of making chocolate fans, scrolls and spirals with mango flavoured compound chocolate.


Sponge cake layers transformed into a gateau with compound chocolate accents

Chocolate mousse en verre with chocolate coated crisps


Finished with gold luster dust
Banded mousse layers en verre

Delicious cake pops

Morde has a range of cake and chocolate fillings that include hazelnut, coffee, plain dark and coconut which I loved. They also have chocolate coated raisins, butterscotch and chocolate coated crispies. Which is a good thing as that's just what you need to add the finishing touch to your dessert.


How did it all taste? Just one word - fabulous.

Watch out for the class announcement on the making of these bites of deliciousness.

The Madras Wok at Green Meadows

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We found him!! The biggest surprise was that he was just a street away from our home.

I'm talking about Chef Shivajee who makes hungry and homesick Singaporeans feel a little less hungry...and homesick! He tells me he's got all the authentic Asian ingredients in his store cupboard and what he cannot bring in a package or in a bottle, he grows in the little garden adjoining the restaurant.

Green Meadows (www.greenmeadowsresort.com) is a lovely resort at Palavakkam, Chennai. It doesn't face the sea but the greenery more that makes up for it. The cottages are built in the style of Kerala homes and with swaying palm trees around the property, it looks like a slice of Kerala that has been lifted and transplanted in Chennai. We've been to the resort's restaurant a few times and on a scale of 1 -5, the food has always been meh. The resort has a party hall and I've found the food served at functions way better than that at the restaurant.



But not any more. The restaurant has undergone renovation and is now called The Madras Wok. Large bay windows overlook the lawns where geese wander about. The garden is a riot of flowers and shrubs and there are tables arranged under canopies that one could dine at if one prefers to dine alfresco. Must be pretty romantic at night!



Chef took us for a walk around the grounds. Pandan and lemongrass leaves swayed in the gentle breeze and clumps of basil filled the air with their distinctive aroma. A gaggle of geese sunned themselves on the well tended lawns.

We chose to sit in the restaurant, a room that is awash with light and is an oasis of tranquillity. Multi hued upholstery add splashes of colour around the room and a wall of glass between the kitchen and the dining area allows you to see the food as it is being prepared.

As they are still in the soft launch phase, we were the only occupants that afternoon though a few of the outdoor tables were occupied and plenty of cooking was going on. I guess some of the guests had chosen to dine in the privacy of their cottages.


The menu indicated not only Asian specialities but also popular Indo-Chinese fare and some Continental as well which includes pasta.


Chef Shivajee suggested I order mee siam. The husband preferred hawker style char kway teow. We left the choice of starters to the chef and what he brought us were these-


Tahu goreng or deep fried cubes of beancurd with a peanut sauce and cucumber. The peanut sauce tasted flat and I missed the beansprouts it's usually served with. The vegetable spring rolls more than made up for it. The wrapper was home made and the roll, stuffed with finely shredded vegetables was fried to a beautiful golden crispness. The dip was equally tasty.

For mains, Chef remembered I liked mee siam - thin vermicelli rice noodles in a spicy, tangy gravy with plenty of prawns and chicken strips, tofu cubes and a boiled egg. The noodles were cooked perfectly and all the bits and bobs added to the flavour. Yummy, and you can drink up all that gravy in the end.








It was served with a sambal that didn't have belachan (prawn paste). [Chef, do add it for your hardcore S'pore diners please!!]



The husband doesn't like food floating in gravy so his plate of char kway teow had flat rice noodles with prawns, chicken, egg and lap cheong (dried Chinese sausages). Here again, the noodles were cooked perfectly and the dark sauce and the toss up in an extremely hot wok gave it a slight charring and a smoky depth of flavour. It was so delicious that it would have given my neighbourhood hawker stall a huge complex.


Dessert was ice kachang, a concoction of shaved ice, red beans, jelly squares and attap chee (palm fruit) in a bowl. Coconut milk and date palm sugar syrup are poured over the top. At hawker stalls and food courts in Singapore, each serving of ice kachang has a measly 2 or 3 attap chee( I swear they must be counting them out) but here, there was plenty. Chef explained that since he loves attap chee, he's generous with them. We shared a bowl and it was plenty for 2 people! In case you're wondering what the fruit tastes like, it's bland, but it has a certain texture that pairs well with that colourful sugary icy concoction. It's the perfect way to finish off a spicy Asian meal at any rate.

Happy diners = happy chef

There's plenty more on the menu including Singapore's famous chicken rice and dim sums. And Chef has another claim to fame - he is a master in hand pulled noodles.

Service was very good, There have been issues in the past but here's hoping it's now water under the bridge.

A meal for 2 at The Madras Wok will cost about 2000/++.

Green Meadows
4/364, Anna Salai, Palavakkam
Chennai 600041.
+91 44 24515555
+91 99449 90950




Burritos for a brand new year

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Wow!! Where did the last year go? Which also made me realise it's been ages since I posted a recipe. December '14 was a bake crazy hectic time that took me right up to New Year's eve.

Here's some of the stuff I did...

Rich fruit cake, pineapple tarts, mushroom puffs, chocolate date cakes, iced Christmas cake, coffee-misu tart,  chocolate truffle cake, chicken mushroom rolls, cut out Christmas cookies 

... and some more bakes for a Christmas carnival...

More fruit cakes; chocolate and lemon filled cupcakes; chicken& mushroom quiche

One of the things I miss in Chennai is good Mexican fare. Even Tex-Mex will do. A couple of restaurants have opened in the city but the reviews have been mixed so I felt the next best thing was to make it myself. Fortunately, all the ingredients are now available at local food stores and these include tortilla wraps and burrito seasoning. I've done a simple version of the filling which has just chicken strips, coloured peppers and onions and left out the beans. I find ready made burrito seasoning quite mild so I like to spice it up with some additional chilli and cumin. One other thing is that I like a bit of crunch in the veg so I don't cook them till they are limp.

Serve the burritos with salsa and sour cream and it's ole all the way to Mexico!



Chicken burritos

Ingredients
750 gm chicken breasts, sliced in strips
1 pack burrito seasoning (40 gm)
Juice of 1 lime
3 large onions, sliced
6 pips garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin powder
4 coloured peppers, sliced in strips
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
Oil
Salt
6 large tortillas

Method
Mix the chicken strips with the burrito seasoning and lime juice, keep aside for about half an hour.
Saute the onions and garlic in a large skillet over a hot flame.
Add in the chilli powder (or flakes) and cumin powder, toss well.
Add in the coloured pepper strips and saute till they are cooked through but crunchy.
In another pan, heat a little more oil and saute the chicken strips till done. Do this in 2 batches.
Mix together the chicken with the onions and peppers; if the filling is too dry, add in a couple of tablespoons of hot water and the chopped coriander leaves.
Check seasoning, add more salt only if necessary.
Warm the tortillas in a hot pan.
Divide the filling equally among the wraps and roll up tight.
Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa in separate bowls.


Salsa

 
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