Friday, 6 July 2012

{Guest post} Bean and Potato Salad by Nisha of Look who's cooking too

I am travelling home tomorrow (27th june)and I am going to be there for quite a while. Packing, cleaning, arranging stuffs, last bits of shopping everything is over and here I am sitting totally exhausted, with least of energy to do anything. But hey, I am not going to be sitting here all night typing out another recipe in my lethargic mood but we have someone very special to share her recipe with you. A very special person, Nisha of Kitchenantics (Look who's cooking too) is our special guest today.

We’ve known each other for a while and we have a lot on common. Since we both blog from UK, we tend to notify each other anything blog related. I would have to par with whatever she has said here because that’s exactly what I would want to say as well. We communicate quite often, either by phone or messages. Our conversation has mainly been of props, where to look out for them for a cheaper rate, deals or offers or when we stumble up on interesting sites or blogs. She is a very good friend of mine and is just the type of girl I would love to hang around with. How I wish she lived nearby.

Nisha is a wonderful person, very friendly, charming and full of energy. Her witty way of writing and her open mindedness is what got me attracted to her. She claims she is not a great cook and hasn’t got any patience. But you see, her blog will prove otherwise. She’s got some great recipes, amazing photographs and fantastic writing. Each of these takes real long time and it requires lot of patience and interest. So And apart from all that, if I need to relax and have something to read, I would go to Kitchenantics for a laugh. That being said, I don’t read all blogs, but very very few, and Nisha’s blog tops them all. Don’t forget to check her blog out. Nisha, Thank you so much for doing this post for me, and I am so ever glad that you could it. Salad looks awesome, and I am sure to try it. 

If there is one blogger I can say I have a lot in common with, that is definitely Shabeena (Shabs as we fondly call her) of Shab's Cuisine. I can’t remember how or when I stumbled upon her blog, but she was the first UK blogger I started following. It is a big deal because majority of the bloggers I follow are based out of the US or India and discovering that Shab was from this side of the pond was indeed something worth being excited about.

She has been blogging for many years now and somewhere along the way I discovered I had a lot in common with her. Thanks to Facebook, we send each other looong messages regarding our blogs and have the longest chat sessions, that too at 11 and 12 at night. From endless discussions about prop shopping to charity store finds to ebay auctions to photography tips and new blog discoveries, the topic is forever flowing. Sales and deals at stores are immediately passed on and we make sure we check it out and get back with our inputs. It’s like shopping with your girlfriends, but virtually :)

I recently did a birthday cake for a friend and I must say that I couldn’t have done it without Shab's help. I used to keep calling her up each and every time I had a doubt about fondant, frosting etc and she would be such a sweetheart and help me out whatsoever. It is indeed great knowing that I have a blogger friend just a phone call away to solve all my doubts and more importantly to sit and talk mindlessly about props and painting boards and photography, instead of forcing the husband to listen to my blog issues. So I didn’t think twice when Shab asked me about a guest post, because there was no way I was gonna pass. We decided on a salad and so, here's an easy peacy summer recipe- A bean and potato salad, which is a favourite over at our place.

We have picnics in the park during summer and deciding on what to take is always an issue, especially because only some parks allow barbecues and they are almost always the ones that are far away which makes us think twice about heading there in the first place. So food items that are super duper easy to pack and tastes good when eaten cold are given priority. Sandwiches and salad mostly win after all the discussion and this salad is my first choice. It is so easy to put together and tastes so good, you would have to try hard to stop yourself from eating spoonfuls while preparing it. It is also a very forgiving recipe and you can add more ingredients or adapt them to your liking without compromising on taste. It is great eaten warm or cold, so there is no issue there. When I make it at home, I usually pair it with some grilled chicken and its a perfect meal and quite filling, I must add. 

So without further ado, here is the recipe for a super delicious, easy-to-prepare bean and potato salad.

Bean and Potato Salad

500 gms (2 large) Potatoes
300 gms Fine beans
1 small Shallot- finely chopped
3 tbsp Mayonnaise
3 tbsp Creme fraiche
1 tsp Mustard sauce
1 to 2 tsp Milk(optional)
1 tsp Vinegar
Salt and pepper- to season

1.Peel and slice the potatoes into bit size cubes and pre cook it boiling water till they are soft and tender, but not mushy and falling apart. Drain and keep aside.

2. Similarly, wash and trim the beans and chop them to about 1 inch in length. Blanch them - bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and tip in the beans. Keep boiling for about 3 to 4 minutes after which you drain into a colander and run ice cold water over it to stop the cooking process. This retains the bright green colour of the beans- and keep aside.

3. In a bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, creme fraiche and mustard sauce. If it's too thick, loosen it up with some milk, adding only in instalments. 

4. Season with enough salt and pepper, give a stir and mix it all in.

5. Transfer the drained potatoes and beans into a large salad bowl. Make sure they are not hot or the cream is going to curdle.

6. Add the shallot and the salad dressing and carefully fold it all in, making sure you don't mash the potatoes.

7. Do a taste test, add more salt and pepper if needed and either dig in immediately or cover with a cling film and refrigerate till ready to use.

1. Additions to this salad would be baby tomatoes, bell pepper, boiled egg and even cooked chicken.
2. If you have spring onion in hand, use the white parts alone instead of shallot and it makes a world of a difference.

3. Also, for a low fat version, use Greek yoghurt instead of creme fraiche. You can also use double cream instead of CF, although not necessarily a low fat version :)

4. Add a pinch of mustard if you don't have the sauce, which is a less stronger version.

5. Once again, thank you Shab for having me over and here's to blogging and shopping and above all the friendship we have developed :)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

{Guest Post} Hummingbird Bakery Style Vanilla CupCake by Maria of MariasMenu

Over few years of my blogging life, I have created a wonderful circle of blogger buddies whom I communicate very often over the social networking sites, exchange recipes, talk about props, foods, inspiring sites, blogs etc. There are a bunch of them who really inspired me, who touched my heart in a way or other, whom I feel are warm, loving, effectionate and fun to be with. And most of all are real people! I am going to introduce you few of my favourite bloggers, my very good friends, very loving people whom I met over the net over time and grew closer and I think you may also love knowing them, reading their blogs/sites.

The first on my list has to Maria, not for one, but for many reasons. As I have mentioned many times before, I am a spoilt Indian lady who grew up with the comfort of mom’s home cooked meal, until I was 25. Then when I moved in with my hubby four months after I had my son, it was like a big transition from zero responsibility to a woman with full of duties to be done as a mother and as a wife. It was not at all easy, I should say, as I have never done much house chores apart from the little bit of cleaning, ironing and little help that your mom ask you to do. Apart from that I bothered nothing. So When I joined my husband, I had to start everything from scratch, including cooking. My mother’s approximated recipe never worked for me always and we started getting bored of the same taste.

That was when I started cooking for recipes online and almost always bumped on Marias blog and cooked many things from her blog, from curries to stir fries, cakes, cupcakes and everyday simple recipes. The outcomes were always fabulous and we really enjoyed them. Maria needs no introduction as owns a popular foodblog Mariasmenu. We’ve known each other for a while now and I love her and I love her style of writing. She is a warm, simple and a down to earth person you would be coming across. She is humble, honest and a sweet person and I am so glad I met her.

I will be away for few weeks, and to keep the blog from being deserted I invited few of my lovely blogger friends over to my blog. Maria, Thank you so much for doing this lovely post in spite of your time constraints. This is going to a special one for me, as it is the first ever guest post on my blog. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the post, and what a lovely recipe is that! With her step by step pictures, no one can go wrong. I love her cake recipes, they come out perfect every time I make them. And I am sure to try this one too. Over to sweet Maria with her fabulous cupcake recipe.

When I saw Shabs mail, asking me whether I could do a guest post for her, I didn't have to think twice to say yes. The only problem I had was time constraint, but we were able to sort it out. So here, I'm doing a guest post for one of my favorite food blogger and also a blogger who I consider as my good friend. Though I've been blogging for almost 6 years now, I don't have a big circle of blogging friends. My PR (public relations) skill bears the grunt for this! Even otherwise as a person, I'm not the kind who has a big group of friends. I always have a small group, may be because I'm a strong believer in quality and not quantity. Ok, let me clarify something (for my own benefit, just to avoid the questioning look on my hubby's face) there are some cases in which I believe in quantity like dress, bags, shoes, baking pans, kitchen accessories.... you got the picture right ;)? Wait a minute... Did I just portray myself as a hypocrite??? Ok, I need to distract you from thinking further.. Enough about me.

Well, as a person I'd describe Shabs as a warm, genuine and humble person. You can feel it the minute you start talking to her. That reminds me... I've never talked to her in person, but in today's world messaging/mailing is as good as talking to a person, right? Well, as a blogger, apart from loving the gorgeous food pictures that she posts, I also like her way of writing the recipe. She writes recipes in such detail, that there is no room for doubt for a reader. Her recipes are crisp and clear!

Thank you my dear, for giving me an opportunity to post on your lovely blog! I'd like to share the recipe of one of my favorite and comfort food of all time, plain vanilla cupcake. I consider it as a comfort food because after having a piece of plain cake everything appears to be like " a piece of cake"!  I love plain cakes in any form, be it cake, cupcake, muffin... I've seen many bloggers writing about the Hummingbird Bakery's baking book. So I got one for myself recently and this is the first recipe, I tried from the book. I'm pretty happy with the outcome, because this is how I want my Vanilla Cupcake to taste and feel. Hope you will also like it...

Vanilla CupCake - Hummingbird Bakery Style
Yields 12-16 large cup cakes

80 gms Unsalted butter, softened
280 gms Caster sugar (refer notes for substitute)
240 gms Plain flour
1 tbsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
240 ml Whole milk @ room temp
1/2 tsp Vanilla essence
2 large Eggs @ room temp


Here is the step by step picture...
Mix together the dry ingredients with an electric whisk until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Mix together milk, essence and eggs in a jug with a hand whisk. Add three-quarters of this to the dry mixture and mix well...

Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between to make sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat again, till you get a smooth batter.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 mins or until the cakes feel springy when you touch them.

1.Preheat the oven @ 180 C, for 10 mins, before baking. Line a cupcake tin, with cupcake liners.

2. Using an electric whisk (use paddle attachment, if using stand mixer), slowly beat together the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt until the ingredients are well mixed in and resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Mix together milk, essence and eggs by hand in a jug. With the whisk or mixer still on a low speed, pour three-quarters of the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

4. Add the rest of the milk mixture and beat again, now on a medium speed, until you get a smooth batter.

5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, up to about two-thirds full. Place in the preheated oven and bake for around 18-20 mins or until the sponge feels springy when you touch them.

6. Leave in tin for 10 mins. After that remove the cupcake from the tin and let it cool completely.

7. You can frost it with vanilla butter cream frosting/cream cheese frosting/chocolate butter cream frosting…


I got around 21 standard size cupcakes with the above qty, but the book says you will get only 12-16. I guess it depends on the size of your cupcake tin.

2. After adding the milk mixture, if the batter appears to be curdled, dont worry, it will come out fine in the end.

3. Make sure you don't over bake the cupcakes, otherwise it will become crusty.

4. I stored the cupcakes in an airtight container @ room temp for 3-4 days.

5.You can also make it as a cake. Double the qty to make a three 8 inch layered cake.

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