Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baking eggs

It's been a while since I cooked something at home, and this morning, after my morning run, I was in the mood for something sinfully heavy. Looking around the house, the only thing(s) that could qualify as heavy were egg and cheese, so I got to work with it. I was soon reminded of a post by Ms BakeAnything and Ms Quiche about mixing stuff with an egg and baking it. And so I got to work on the same.

Now even while making simple omelettes, to make things a little exciting, we add a host of things - onions, tomatoes, spinach, bacon, ham, cheese - to name a few, so I thought of doing the same. I had a little pork pickle left (purchased at Thulp a while ago), a new bottle of Tom Yum soup paste (that Ms Quiche had bought for me recently), and so I decided to toss in these two along with some cheese, onions and garlic. For seasoning and flavour, I used paprika, salt and pepper. Although I started out with 1 egg, I soon realised two was the optimum number.

So I cracked two eggs into a mug, beat them with a fork, chopped up a quarter of an onion, bashed the daylights out of one clove of garlic, added some salt and pepper, and then went on to add a teaspoon of the Tom Yum paste and the remainder of the pork pickle in the jar (about a table spoon). Feel free to substitute the pork with ham, bacon, mushrooms, bell peppers or whatever you love to go into you eggs. No real substitute can be suggested for vegetarians for the the Tom Yum paste, so just add whatever flavouring you desire. Top it up with cheese - as much as your heart desires. I also added some paprika for flavour.

Preheat the oven at 200C and cook at 200C for 18 minutes (Ms BakeAnything had suggested cooking time of 20 minutes at 180C). The end result was quite fabulous and a wonderful meal for brunch.





Ingredients
2 eggs
1 tsp paprika (optional; use chilli powder if you want it spicy)
1 clove garlic, crushed and make a paste
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tsp Tom Yum paste
1 tbsp pork pickle (use ham/bacon/chicken/ground beef/musgrooms/bell peppers)
Cheese, as much as your heart can handle
Salt & pepper to taste

Method
Chop the onion fine, make a paste out of the garlic, whisk the eggs and add the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, Tom Yum paste, and pork pickle. Add all these into a ramekin (I don't have one, so I used a ceramic mug). Preheat the oven at 200C. Once preheated, place the ramekin/mug into the oven and bake at 200C for 18 minutes. Alternately, preheat at 180C and bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Ensure that ehatever dish you use for baking is evenly shaped so that the heat is distributed evenly and cooking happens evenly.



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of wings and lollipops

This post isn't about a review of any restaurant to give you insights about the food at a particular joint, but rather to give y'all a few details about a very popular dish. In case I haven't mentioned it here before (don't think I have), my favourite cuisine is... what, tell me? Go on, take a guess... I dare ya! Honestly, there isn't any one particular cuisine that I'd prefer on a whole over any other cuisine, but comfort food for me is anything that can be fitted between two slices of slightly toasted bread/bun. Yup, the sandwich, and its cousin the burger top the imaginary list of what can be called my favourite food. If someone holds a gun to my head and asks for a cuisine, I guess I'll have to say 'pub food'.

To some extent (quite a large extent actually), sandwiches and burgers can also be categorised under pub food, and I guess because I like to multi-task, sandwiches are probably the one food item that I can eat and work with at the same time. Also, stating pub food has another reason - for one, it involves pork :) and another universal favourite, chicken wings or Buffalo wings. This post is dedicated towards shedding some light chicken wings.

Photo credit Hub Pages

There are a lot of places now in Bangalore that serve wings with varying degrees of heat. Plan B even has a 'Wings Tuesday' event where you can get a dozen wings for Rs:120 (and also buy a beer and get one free before 6 P.M), Toit has a heavenly bowl of wings for those interested, while that new upstart, Nando's, also has a plate of scary looking wings (scary coz the entire wing is served - drummette, wingette and tip, without being cut) with their famous peri-peri sauce. Of course, there could be several other joints serving wings, I just stuck to the more popular ones.

For those of you who love to dig into a bowl of juicy, succulent wings slathered with enough sauce to make it slide between your fingers without any resistance, dipping it into a tartar sauce of mayo or just eating them the way they are, I'm sure you'd have encountered the same problems I have. Inconsistency. Perhaps not in taste, but most certainly in terms of size. Yup, when it comes to food, size does matter.

I've had my fair share of disappointments, mostly noticing that some of the peices are almost devoid of meat, while some are so full of meat you wonder whether it actually is a wing or something else. And then there's this mysterious dish called a chicken lollipop, that sort of resembles a chicken drumstick (leg) but is smaller, and you never quite know what or where it came from. Well, this post aims to give you some gyaan about that as well.

The chicken wing consists of three sections, much like the human arm (evolution).

Image from Just Bento

Most places in the west, notably the US, where wings, or Buffalo wings (since they're supposed to have originated in Buffalo, NY) are a rage, make use of the first part of the wing, the drummette, for their wings. The drummette resembles a drumstick (chicken leg) and quite often I've seen a mildly perplexed look on the faces of people eating this when they'd ordered for wings. Also, being a more meatier portion of the wing (just like how we have our biceps in the top section of the arm, the wing packs a lot of meat in the drummette). In India (I'll speak for Bangalore alone now), most places that serve wings give you a mixture of drummettes and wingettes and more often than not there would be more wingettes than drummettes. So the next time you order that bowl of wings, make a mental note of how many wingettes and drummettes came in your order of wings. Although there's no 'rule' as such as to what ought to be served, common sense would suggest that the drummette would be a piece that the folks dining would prefer, since the wingette, apart from having less meat, also as twice the number of bones (2) in it when compared to a drummette.

The next topic is the chicken lollipop (alias Drums of Heaven). What part of the chicken does this mysterious piece come from? The answer is ... you guessed it (didn't you?), the chicken wing again! If you recall my second post while I was in Hyderabad, a waiter had served us chicken lollipop when we had ordered wings and tried to pass it off as 'wings' by claiming "...lollipop will be more yellow colour, Sir." To be fair (now), they did serve us wings, just not in the way we expected them to. That's like asking for mashed potatoes with your steak but being served French fries instead!

Here's a link where you can see the entire process of how a lollipop is made. The drummette is taken and the meat from one end of the bone is separated off from the bone while leaving the meat at the other end attached to the bone. This 'dangling' meat is then pulled over the other end of the bone (like removing a sweater, getting it inside out and leaving it to cover your head). After that, all that remains is the simple task of seasoning the meat, and coating it with batter and frying it. However, places that want to act cheap and make an extra buck at the cost of the customer would use the wingette section, remove one of the two bones in it (the thinner bone), and then follow the process of making the lollipop. So in case you find a difference in the amount of meat on top of the lollipop, check the size of the bones, and if you notice a difference, it could well be a lollipop made from a wingette and not from a drummette.

So now that you know what 'actually' a chicken wings dish ought to consist of, and what a chicken lollipop is, I'll leave you to go figure out where the best of each can be found in the city you live in, and it's for you as a customer to make a list of those places that are trying to pull a fast one on you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spaghetti Kitchen

I don't seem to understand where the space comes up from for new(er) places in Indiranagar. I've now noticed that Little Italy has opened up again on 100 Feet road, a couple of hundred meters from their previous location (their earlier premises saw another Italian place called Italia come up). Spaghetti Kitchen and Copper chimney are what seem to be the new kids on the block. Having visited Copper Chimney at Bangalore Central (MG Road) and not in the mind for north Indian cuisine, we decided to visit Spaghetti Kitchen for lunch.

The decor at Spaghetti is quite tasteful. The restaurant is nicely lit with natural light from the facade and then there are enough lights that ensure you aren't shrouded in darkness. Since it was a working day and we didn't have the luxury of spending a lot of time, we had to (sadly) opt for the fixed meal (Rs 399). The starters arrived at the table and almost immediately vanished into the mouths of my colleagues before I could take a picture. I'm guessing that's why I don't have pics of the non-veg starters... or were there non-veg starters? Can't remember. Anyway, the veg starters were a little insipid, except for probably those cheese balls in the background. Also, as part of the meal, we could have a glass of wine or beer. While some opted for beer, some had wine.

Veg starters

Red wine

A complimentary bread basket with a very nice dip was actually one of the highlights of the meal. Imagine that - free stuff that tastes good! The pizzas (both veg and non veg) come only in thin crust, and were decent, although from a taste point of view, it wasn't anything to rave about. The spaghetti was just plain boring - not too much of flavour, and if someone has to add oregano/chilli flakes for flavour, then something is seriously lacking in the dish.

The fish was nicely done, with a slight crust on the outer surface and the body soft inside. The tofu dish too wasn't too bad although my colleagues who had it claimed it was a piece of rubber that was coloured white-ish and served :) I didn't think so though.

Garlic bread & dip

Pizza

Spaghetti

Fish something

Tofu something

I thought that desserts would be saving grace, and in terms of taste they were. However, from a service stand point, I think I found something seriously lacking. We were a group of 6. Now take a look at the photo below and tell what's wrong.

Dessert platter

Couldn't figure it out? Well, we were 6, but there were only 4 of each! I dunno if this is because that plate on which they're served can have only 4 per type, but I don't care. Why are things so rigid? And no, they didn't get another plate with 2 more of each little cake. I guess it pretty much summed up the entire experience.

I won't be giving my usual report card because I only had the fixed meal, and would love to try the a la carte once. But if the standards set by the fixed meal are anything to go by, then this would be another case of a big brand hoping to survive only by reputation and by catering to only those who aren't very discerning (sadly that number is still quite large).

# 2006, 1st Floor, 100 Feet Road, Adjacent to Vodafone, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Phone: 41113500