Friday, December 16, 2011

Blogoversary, Part Two/Salted Peanut, Double Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie. Whew.

Cookies. How I love thee.

And like all good things in life, it takes work to make the perfect batch. Well, not to make them, per se. Baking them in batches is tiresome. Whipping up and eating a bucket-load of cookie dough? Easy as pie.

Pie isn't all that easy, by the way.

Cookie dough is bonafide Easetown. It's a one bowl wonder. Make the dough, scarf down a third of it, bake a third, flash-freeze the remaining dough and bake yourself some piping hot monster-sized cookies whenever you want. Breakfast, post-gym, midnight television. Carry some for sleep-overs and become the most popular girl there.

I'm speaking from life experience.

Make these cookies. You know; for the sake of life experiences. Don't be scared of the salted peanuts and chocolate chips. It works on ten different levels.

I made mine from 3/4th of a big Cadbury's Dairy Milk Bar. Notice the white Toblerone? I'm not a fan of white chocolate, but it goes pretty well in this recipe. I've adapted this from Brown Eyed Baker, who has never let me down when I want something with peanut butter and chocolate in it.

Add a little extra if you're going to keep stealing and stuffing your face! I always do.

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal-Double-Chocolate-Chip cookies:
(makes 32 cookies)


2 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup white or milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C  (350 degrees F).

Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or parchment paper and keep it aside.

In a big bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Keep aside.

In another bowl, beat together the butter, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla essence, white and brown sugar on Medium speed for around 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until combined.

Fold in the flour mix with a spatula, until just combined. Stir in the oats and the nuts, give it a mix.

Finally, add the chocolate chips. 

Place the cookie dough  in the form of scoops on the aluminium foil (no need to grease), leaving around 5 cms between each cookie. If you're using unsalted peanuts, you could try sprinkling half a pinch of coarse salt over the cookie dough before baking. Make indentations with a fork, if you like.

Bake for around 10 minutes, until lightly brown.

See the overbaked brown one? Not as chewy! :(
Pull out, let it cool completely on the foil. Store in air-tight containers.

Do have a cookie hot out of the oven. Dunk it in chocolate syrup or make an ice-cream sandwich. Eat half a dozen for dinner. Do get a full fasting lipid profile. Kidding. Oats and dark chocolate should cancel out the butter, no?

Are any cookie-houses hiring PR people?

Blogoversary, Part One/Walk in The Park!

It's been a year.

This exact day, one year back, I wrote a semi-narcissistic piece on how much I love food. Should I be worried that not a thing has changed? No. I'll save that for the quarter-life-crisis I'm due for next year.

A full year of cooking, taking bad photographs and borderline-raving to the gourmands of the blogosphere... and I'm hungry for more. Sigh. Beyond help.

The first few posts averaged around 15 views, on a good day. That didn't deter me. I continued eating, writing, eating whilst writing. Over the course of a few months, thanks to friends (and mum's friends) and word-of-mouth, the Stats-meter took an uphill journey. I still don't understand why anybody would be interested in reading a paragraph on the nuances of sour cream versus Greek yogurt versus creme fraiche. It's madness.

I get recognised as the "food blog girl." I get asked about what brand of cocoa powder to buy and what steak to order, more than I do about nebulizers and antibiotics. I get so many heart whelming "I loved your strawberry scones". All this for food-blog-hopping and baking brownies! It's insane and amazing, but mostly insane.

Oh, I've had brickbats, as well. "A doctor like you shouldn't be wasting time","why this obssession with food" and similar. But for the most part, I'm doing what I love and nothing makes me happier than being recognised as the "food blog girl."

So here's a huge thank you to all the like minded people who come here to indulge their inner fat-child. I will continue to ply you all with all the butter and demerara sugar Nilgris has on its shelves.

This calls for a celebration: I'll be reviewing the best food I've eaten this year today, as well as posting the recipe (as Part Two, tomorrow) for Salted Peanut, Triple Chocolate, Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies. It's one of those things that give you food-gasms and epiphanies... and there are no controlled substances involved.

Jettez un coup d'oeil (that's the last of the rudimentary French garnered at school: roughly translates to "Cast your eyes") on photos taken during a meal at 601 at The Park and dessert at Latitude 13 by The Park.

The Park needs no introduction. I don't have to talk about the brilliant hospitality, the classy interiors or the college-educated waiters (at least at 601). I, especially, do not have to mention the prices (they're pretty high, I'll stop at that. Like the Salvatore Ferragamo pumps on magazine spreads that just have "Price on Request" underneath them).

W and I had saved The Park for a special occasion. As usual, we just ended up going there dressed in work wear (not good when you work in a hospital) while on the hunt for a clean loo.

The clink of cutlery and Hunger (my omnipresent, un-imaginary friend) steered us in the direction of 601.
Hunger also dictates you order basic things that fill your soul and stomach. So. Pizza and Fish-and-chips. Sat back, in preprandial glee, almost saying "show us what you got. Entertain us."

Soon after placing the order, we were served with the bread basket filled to the brim with soft, delicate little dinner rolls brushed with butter, sprinkled with Sea Salt and grains and baked to a gorgeous golden-brown.

Carbaholics that we are, we finished the whole basket. We weren't going back there any day soon, so appearances didn't matter. The open butter chiplet should confirm the fact.

And the pizza that made me a convert from a only-deep dish-please girl to a thin-crust-can-taste-this-good? girl.

Chunky, juicy chicken.

Yummy jalapenos.

Gooey mozzarella.

Sprinkled with a wee bit of dried oregano and chilli.

This is better than the pizzas I've had at Tuscana. And it costs about the same.

As for the fish-and-chips.

Golden, non-oily, breaded-to-perfection fish fingers.

Fries that were almost a metre-long; crisp on the outside, tender and steamy on the inside. One thing I have to mention is the palpable grains of salt coating the fries. Nirvana. Hello, hello, hello!

The in-house tartar sauce and ketchup? Drinkable. Ask for refills. You're paying enough.

All I needed was a huge glass of chocolate milkshake with a striped red straw and I'd be done with good food for life.

The two of us finished every single morsel on the plate. That left us with no room whatsoever for dessert.

So on another occasion (Eid, to be precise), the cousins and I hit Latitude 13 by The Park on Wallace Garden Road.

The bill wasn't frighteningly high here, as we ordered the Hi-Tea combo. For 190 bucks (exclusive of taxes), you get a mug of coffee/tea and a dessert.

I got the Chocolate Truffle Cake, because it was Eid, and calories don't count on Eid.

Sarbee had an Apple-cranberry (I think) tart with vanilla ice cream (?gelato).

Love the chocolate syrup and condensed-milk zig-zags.

Also love it when ice-cream speckled with vanilla beans forms a cold puddle over flaky tart.

N joined us after dessert #1 at Sandy's Chocolate Laboratory, so she just had an apres-dessert sorbet. I'm blessed with crazies in the family; girls who do not fuss about one-dessert-per-day limits and the like.

The tea was a mug of garden-variety English Breakfast.

But my Cafe Mocha, with a thin almond biscotti, was delicious. If you discount the alarming smiley face.

Here's to biting into the new year!

Tomorrow, all you lovely people get to feast your eyes on the aforementioned triple-chocolate-chip-peanut-butter cookies.

Auf Wiederhausen! (yes, I treat myself to late night masochism in the form of Project Runway, cookies on the side).

P.S. Before I forget, thank you all so much. Again.

Friday, December 2, 2011

By The Bay!

Madras during the Monsoon.

I apologise, in advance, if I take a detour from the grub-talk and wax eloquently on the sporadic-yet-bloody-gorgeous showers (replete with thunder and lightening, I kid you not), the cliched mugs of hot cocoa in front of the window (chai-and-pakoda, corn on the cob, pick your poison) and state-declared holidays.

Not to mention what happens to the beach. Besant Nagar, in this context, in all obviousness. It's desolate (compared to your regular Sunday-rush of families with screechy children, lovers perched under roomy umbrellas and a paraphernalia of vendors selling everything from plastic watches, bootha kannadi to molaga bajjis.)

And the food there. You want momos? Got it.

Sweet corn with a myriad of seasoning? Got it.

Gelato and Ice Gola? Check and Check.

Expensive coffee, beach-side burgers, Dindugal Thalapakkatu Biryani? Yes, yes and yes.

It never was complete, though. La Boulangerie's chocolate cake and FunkJazz's doughnuts should logically hit the spot for me. Still. There was a niggling hole in the picture.

I wanted something more. Something warm. Toasty. Spicy. Hearty. The rain awakens taste buds you didn't know existed.

The answer to that Sphinx-y question can only be ONE thing. A shawarma!

The shawarmas I've had in India are a disappointment and a half. Thin white quboos: Blahdom. Oily mayonnaise making the whole thing soggy: Instant turn-off. Chicken filling: Usually yum, but overwhelmed by the fatty mayo and the sad little shreds of cabbage.

That is not a shawarma, people. If you want a real shawarma as God intended to be, in all its goodness, go to By The Bay. A Lebanese restaurant right next to Mash and FunkJazz on Besant Nagar Beach Road. They make a mean shawarma, pretty damn close to the actual thing and quite frankly, the best I've had in Madras.

You'll have to wait 15 minutes for it to be done. Completely worth it. The proportions are such that you'll have to hold with two hands. Sold.

Notice the panini/sandwich maching thingy? That's to toast the whole thing.

Fat, warm quboos envelopes grilled chicken with the tastiest spice rub, potato wedges, red cabbage, flecks of parsley and a thoum (garlic cream) so delicious, I want to use it as Body Butter for the rest of my life.

The whole shawarma is toasted after being assembled, the grill marks showing up on the bread. It is an experience. My only grouse was the potato wedges weren't crisp enough, but they melded into a mashed-potato-y cream in the shawarma, so it wasn't that big of a deal. You'll also need to stuff in the pickled radishes and cucumber if you like your shawarmas salty.

Just make the perfect bite, look into the rain and indulge.

The chicken and beef Shawarma both cost around 100 bucks each.

The Chicken Laham pita-wich (sandwich, in a pita bread) consists of three sheek-type charcoal grilled kebabs on a decent-sized pita. The pita is strewed with crunchy, flavourful onions, parsley and more thoum, pickles and french fries. At 120 bucks, it's a steal.

The other thing we ordered was a stew-type thing. Charcoal grilled shammi-shaped chicken with a vinegary stew filled with hearty carrots, potatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers and middle eastern-spices.

Along with Qabsa (arabic biryani), fries, a bread-basket filled with warm pita, hummus, thoum, pickles. All this for Rs. 240. Hard to believe? And most of the components were well-executed and a delight to sample. The Arabic biryani alone was little too oily for me... it wasn't all yellow and fluffy and steamy the way I usually have Qabsa.

Two of us could not finish the whole thing, but it was one heck of a delicious try.

The one other thing you must sample are the Za'atyers. Reminiscent of a pizza, it consists of sauces and chicken and cheese (subbing Haloumi and Muhammara-ish sauce, of course) and it smelt amazing, coming fresh out of a real wood-fired oven; something I'm definitely going back for.

By The Bay is one of the newer additions to Madras's culinary scene that I'm in love with. I hope it stays this way..

Their tag line reads "Not Authentically Arabic", but at these prices? لذيذ جدا

One more thing that'll take me back is the desserts I didn't have room to sample! They have Mohalabbia on the menu and it has my name written all over it. Literally and figuratively.