High tea with Chef Anees Khan of Star Anise Patisserie, Bandra

So far the most gratifying part of my work as a food blogger and writer – apart from all the amazing food of course – has been meeting interesting people and having lengthy conversations with them about food. The idea of such meetings has always been more inviting than restaurant reviews. One such invitation recently took me to Bandra’s Star Anise Patisserie which opened last year. The bakery and dessert shop is helmed by Chef Anees Khan who, apart from being an excellent chef, is extremely passionate about food.

Chef Anees hails from Orissa and has worked at The Leela Kempenski, The Leela Goa, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Canada, Hyatt Regency, JW Marriott Cairo and many other hotels around the world as a pastry chef. In 2001 he joined hands with Chef Moshe Shek to create a dessert menu for his café Moshe’s.

Carrot Cake with Jamun Frosting at Star Anise Patisserie, Bandra West

Carrot Cake with Jamun Frosting at Star Anise Patisserie, Bandra West

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Nigella Lawson’s Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake

I love Nigella Lawson and practically everything that she cooks. Of her all the recipes that I’ve tried, this is the one which I’ve tried mastering. The first time I made it turned out brilliant, second time wasn’t so good cause I used desi oranges. This time i went with one of those imported looking oranges, not sure what are they called. Their rind is just bitter enough to give this cake a perfect flavour. I’ve added just 2 tbsp of Nutella but you can add more or less as per your taste but this ratio will give a perfect bitter-sweet taste which is divine.

Ingredients:
Oranges – 2 medium
Eggs – 6
Cocoa powder – 50 gms
Castor sugar – 200 gms
Baking powder – 11/2 tsp
Dark chocolate – 2 tbsp (chopped) I used the Royce chocolate bar that I just bought 😀

Method:

  • Place oranges in cold water in a pan and boil them for 2 hours or till they become soft.
  • Cut them from the centre and remove the pips if any.
  • Throw the oranges in the food processor (with the skin) and pulp everything together.
  • Preheat oven tp 180 degree Celcius.
  • Add eggs, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and the chopped dark chocolate to the orange pulp and run the motor till everything is mixed properly. You’ll get a slightly runny batter, don’t worry this is how it should look.
  • Grease the cake tin and pour the batter in.
  • Bake for an hour. The tester will come out clean by this time.
  • Let it cool for a while.
  • Dust it with sugar, add frosting, decorate it with orange rind or just eat this rich dark goodness plain.
This is when it just came out of the oven. The husband thinks I am promoting Nutella a little too much : / so  the next picture is without it.

Peanut butter and Nutella cookies

This is my 75th post on the blog and demands a very special recipe. So here’s something that I sort of experimented and it turned out really nice. I had a bottle of peanut butter lying in my fridge given to me by Reema on mu birthday…Oh! I need to mention here that she made a really awesome cake for my birthday. It was a layered cake with peanut butter, chocolate and butter frosting and I don’t remember what all was there but it was brilliant.

So yeah, coming back to the peanut butter, it was The Gourmet Company product and I had no idea what to do with it. Yesterday while browsing through some random recipes online I though why not make cookies with it. Well, I searched for a recipe, altered it a bit and made these lovely cookies this morning. Very proud of myself cause this was my first attempt at baking cookies and they were yum!

Note: I haven’t used any sugar here because the peanut butter already had sugar. If you have a plain peanut butter use 300 gms of sugar.

Ingredients:
Peanut butter – 300 gms
Nutella – 4 tbsp
Butter – 50 gms
Eggs – 2
Flour – 200 gms
Baking powder – 11/2 tsp

Method:

  • Let peanut butter, butter and nutella come to room temperature.
  • Beat butter in a bowl for 2 minutes (add sugar if you are using it and beat some more), add peanut butter and keep beating so the mix properly.
  • Add nutella and keep mixing.
  • Beat in the eggs.
  • Mix flour and baking powder separately and then add to the mix.
  • The mix will give you a little thicker consistency than the cake batter.
  • Preheat oven at 220 degree Celsius.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the cookie tray, put small dollops of the batter on the tray using a spoon or your hand. Don’t put more than 7-8 so that there’s enough space for them to spread.
  • Let them bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Keep checking.
  • Let the cookies cool down.
  • Top it with some nutella or dunk it in a glass of hot chocolate and enjoy.


NOW WHO’D LIKE A COOKIE!!! 

All you need is loaf!

Coming from A small city in North India, the only kinds of bread you are exposed to is the normal sandwich loaf or a pre made pizza base; both completely unhealthy. In the city I come from you still don’t get brown bread easily. There’s not much bread culture there anyway unlike Bombay where you get brun pao, fugias, focacia and what not. Around 15 years ago when my maternal uncle showed me a picture of a French baguette (he had just returned from a trip to France) I was amazed to find out that such varieties existed. I had a similar feeling when I visited The Baker’s Dozen earlier this year.


The Baker’s Dozen, a bakery owned by Sneh Jain and his wife Aditi Handa, specializes in Artisan breads; breads that are made without any preservative and are hand crafted. The breads that I saw at The Baker’s Dozen were completely new to me, maybe except a few like focacia. The best part about these breads were that most of them were made of whole wheat flour thus making them even healthier. This and a bag full of breads at the end of my visit was enough to have me jumping with joy.

Till now I have tasted six of their breads and each has a different taste or as they put it, a character of its own. Pain au levain (Rs 120) or French sourdough has a crusty top and is soft on the inside and comes with filling like walnut+raisin, apricots+cherries and cranberries+blueberries. The bread is ideal to make tartines but I prefer it eating plain with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over it.

Pain au cereal (Rs 100) which is quite similar to Pain au levain in look and texture is packed with flaxseeds and sesame and is a little bitter. I had taken this bread to office and everyone happily gobbled it down with spicy haleem. The focacia (Rs 60) is very different from what I’ve eaten at other places. It’s a little dry and I was told that they do not use olive oil to make it. However, the Mediterranean bread is full of olives and is complete on its own.


One bread that you must not ignore is Brioche (Rs 100). This French bread is high on eggs and butter which results into an extremely soft crumb. Since I got a loaf version of this bread I cut it into slices and tried toasting it only to realize that the bread was too sensitive for that. A light toast with butter would be a good way to eat it. I had it with Strawberry butter given to me by Shivani (that deserves a separate blogpost altogether).

Next bread that I tried is Puccia (Rs 30 for two), Italian wheat flour dinner rolls packed with olives. These soft and fluffy breads were eaten with a carrot dip. I made this carrot+yoghurt+olive oil+garlic dip recently and became an instant fan.


After operating from their bakery in Wadala for initial few months, The Baker’s Dozen recently opened their first outlet in Prabhadevi. On World Bakers’ Day they launched a new Jewish Sabbath bread called Challah (Rs 120). The bread has a long History and religious significance to it. You can read more about it here. Challah has a lovely golden crust and is made with generous amount of eggs. I ate it with garlic n herbed butter, akuri and bruschetta topping and it was perfect with everything.


I’ll give a big thumbs up to Sneh and Aditi for introducing us to such great breads. While I write this post I already plan my next order from The Baker’s Dozen and pray that they have an outlet in every suburb. More breads for everyone.

Address:
9, Jayant Apartment, Appasaheb Marathe Marg,
Opposite Mercedes Benz showroom,
Prabhadevi, Mumbai
Phone:
022 6743 1313

Twitter: @FreshAtTBD
Facebook: The Baker’s Dozen

Life of (Apple) Pie

After procrastinating for the longest time I finally decided to bake the apple pie. A little inspiration came from my team mate Anjum so I decided to treat the family members and colleagues to a nice old fashioned Apple Pie. I Googled the recipe which mentioned Granny Smith apples (green apples). Although these apples are juicer yet I decided to stick to the normal apples available in the local market. Frankly I felt a bit lazy to get up and walk down to the supermarket. 
There are 1 crore 10 lakhs and 25 thousand apple pie recipes available on the net (okay, I might not be that accurate) Mine is no different hence I decided to click pictures of every step to make the life a bit easier for the readers. 
So, here you go….

Ingredients:

For pastry (makes two 10 inch pie crusts)
All purpose flour                                               4 cups (approx 500 gms)
White butter (straight out of the fridge)              250 gms
Salt                                                                  1 tsp
Chilled water                                                    1/2 cup
For filling
Apples (medium sized)                                    5
Sugar                                                              1 cup
Lemon Juice                                                    2 tsp
Cinnamon powder                                           11/2 tsp
Nutmeg powder                                              1 tsp
All purpose flour                                             1/4 cup
Butter/Ghee                                                    2 tbsp
Egg yolk                                                         1
Milk                                                               1 tbsp
Method:
For pastry         
Mix all purpose flour and salt in a dish. Cut slices of butter in it till it becomes a little grainy.
Add water slowly and keep mixing till it forms a ball. Wrap it in a cling foil or aluminium foil and keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 220 degree celcius.

For the filling
Peel and slice the apples and toss them in lemon juice.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg powder in a bowl and coat the apples with this mixture.

Sprinkle some flour on a flat, dry surface. Break the pastry dough into two balls. Roll each to make a 10 inch crust.

Place 1 crust in the pie dish and dot with butter. i used ghee which works equally good.

Pour the filling in the pie crust.

Cover it with the second pie crust and seal the corners.

Make cuts on the top crust to let the heat in. Beat the egg yolk and milk in a bowl and brush it over the top crust.

Bake at 220 C for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180 C and bake for 45 minutes.
Let it cool on the frame.

Cut a nice slice and serve.

Dig in and be happy.

Merry Christmas!