Coral – a networking dinner with strangers & a Spanish spread

Coral, a networking dinner executed by my husband and I to give people an experience of meeting strangers over food and conversations. A lot of you have asked me or wondered how it all started….

I love to cook and my husband  visualized the concept. We also found a lovely bungalow in the middle of the city owned by Prahlad kakkar. The three combination blended with each other so well that it brought in curiosity.

Our last coral was “Spanish” and  the last one for this year. We will be closed for November and December and will be back with new ideas or maybe a new venue in 2013. Coral has a new website now and allows memberships at a nominal fee. Coral members get better benefits and discounts for future dinners.

We serve a four course meal from different parts of the world and try to keep the cuisine as authentic as possible depending on the  availability of the  ingredients. There are no restrictions on the portions, you can always ask for a second helping. Kima of Mizochican has described his Spanish experience.

Welcome drink: Sangria, made from Indian red wine and Indian red and golden apples.

Appetizer 1: whole wheat organic bread served with Spanish romesco sauce. A delicious sauce made from almonds and red peppers.

Apertizer 2: Tortilla De Patatas, Spanish style omelet with onions & potatoes

Apertizer 3: Spanish style parsley prawns sautéed in olive oil, garlic and parsley with a squeeze of lime

Main course: seafood paella

Dessert: Bizcocho, Spanish style sponge cake. It is traditionally made from olive oil and lemon zest.

We sometimes end up with a night cap either green/mint tea or some coffee. Coral sessions have no time restrictions and our guests can leave when they please, even if its 2am in the morning 🙂

Some points that I would like to bring to your notice:

When an event is created, it is not by invitation only. Anybody can apply or wish to come.

It is not a dating or singles club.

Couples, singles or even your friends are allowed to come. The more the merrier!

Our aim is to give you a good experience 🙂

My previous post on Food at Coral – dinner with strangers


Cooking like an Italian

“A new day and a new theme”

Of late I’ve been feeling a little negative and my last post said it all. This month is almost closing on me and here I am again back logged with things to do, which kept me away from posting about i2cook’s second cooking class, which happened early this month.

I recently received an email from a customer who had ordered few bottles of  shahi tukra during rakhi and appreciating the sweet so much that all the negativity that I’ve been feeling began to fade. She attempted twice to tell me how much she liked it – once when I was traveling and couldn’t return her call back and the second time by writing  an email to me. She also checked with me about the class and that’s when I realized that my post for the second one is long overdue.

i2cook cooking class is slowly catching up in its own special way and I’m glad that its appreciated. I always enjoy interacting with people and this time we had two men in our class ;). I like it when men come forth and show their interest in cooking. We cooked, we ate and laughed together. It was an afternoon well spent gaining and imparting knowledge and tasting various ingredients like nutritional yeast, black rice pasta, spaghetti pasta, rock salt etc.  Italian being the theme of the class the recipe card and the setting was all themed by Groovy Two Shoes.

Recipe cards from Italy!

Ricotta Cheese Spread

Ricotta is Italian for “twice cooked” or “to cook again” and is traditionally made with the whey byproduct of making another cheese, such as mozzarella or a hard cheese. The whey is heated, with or without additional vinegar, and the new ricotta is strained and seasoned.

Since we aren’t cheese makers and don’t have any whey with us, we will make ricotta in a more contemporary way and creamy like a cream cheese. The fresh ricotta goes well on a baguette or toast drizzled with some olive oil or balsamic.

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

Juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons

1/2tsp sea salt

(Makes 1 cup)

Pour milk, cream and salt in a non-reactive pot. Heat the milk lightly until you see the cream formation. Turn off the stove and pour in the lemon juice. Allow it to stand for five minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheese cloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and can be refrigerated upto 3 days.

Ricotta cheese spread

Pasta Sauce

An Italian will always say that “his” sauce is the best. How do you know which recipe to follow? After a lot of research we realized that you don’t need to add too many things into your sauce to make it taste good. Some onions, not finely chopped dropped into a pot full of tomatoes to infuse can do wonders to your pasta sauce.

500gms plum tomatoes

1 halved medium sized onion

2tbs olive oil

1/2tsp sugar

1/2tbs lemon juice

salt to taste

(Makes approx. 250gms of pasta sauce)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. Discard the skins.

Cut each of your tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with your fingertips into a small strainer set over a bowl. Ditch the seeds, reserve the juices. Chop the tomatoes roughly.

Put the tomatoes, onion and olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes.  Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt and sugar to taste. Turn off the stove and add lemon juice. Serve immediately on your favourite pasta with some fresh basil or precede further to preserve the sauce.

Preserving pasta sauce

You can either freeze the pasta sauce for 6 months or can preserve through canning at room temperature.

You can make pasta sauce in bulk and store in your kitchen cabinet for months by canning. Canning is a process where the sealed sauce bottles are heated in a hot water bath to build pressure and seal the bottle. This helps to negate the bacteria and avoid botulism (can lead to paralysis)

Canning at home doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done with the stuff available at home –

towel
deep saucepan or stock pot
tongs
rubber bands

Wipe the rim of the jar with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to remove any sauce on there. Anything left on the rim could spoil your sauce. Place the lid on top, and screw the rings in place.

Fill the pot with water and place the towel at the bottom. Submerge the warm jars in the entirely with water 2 to 3 inch above the lids and bring it to boil. Maintain the temperature of the stove at medium high and process for 45 minutes. Check periodically to see that the water level is still above the tops of the jars and add water if necessary.

Meanwhile tie rubber bands to the tongs to avoid any slippage. After 45 minutes, slowly remove the jars with the help of the tongs and place them somewhere no one will bump or touch them. Let them sit to cool, overnight is good. You may hear hissing when you take them out of the water – that’s totally fine. The jars’ seals will still be up at this point, they will suck in as the jars cool.

Your homemade pasta jar is ready to store for 12 months without refrigeration.

Please check your jars. Are the seals down? Any leaks? If not, you’re all clear. If you still hear hissing, have jars with the lids still up, or see any leaks, stick them in the refrigerator and use them within a couple of days. Do not try to can them again.

Pasta sauce

Fig & Olive Tapenade

Traditionally, tapenade is a pounded paste made of olives and capers, slick with olive oil. It is not only economical to make your own tapenade but it is so darn easy. We found some gorgeous figs from Turkey and couldn’t help but mix it in our tapenade.

1/2cup dried figs

1 cup black olives

1/2tbs capers

1 small garlic clove

1/2tbs lemon juice

1tsp dried or finely chopped fresh rosemary

½ cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Soak the figs in water for an hour or so. Chop and keep aside.

Blend in all the ingredients in a processor and season with salt and pepper. If you have the patience  you could make the tapenade in mortar and pestle…

Fig & olive tapenade

The class was wrapped up with  sauce and spreads prepared by us for lunch and finished with some Italian custard served with caramelized pears made by me. To know when my next class is  scheduled – 1. LIKE our FB page for constant updates or 2. email me at itoocook@gmail.com, so that I can send you an email once the event is up! More pictures of the class on our FB page.

You might want to read my previous post on i2cook cooking class.

They came, they made and ate it all too…

Networking after class


My cooking class

I used to be  fascinated by chefs or cooks showcasing their culinary skills on television, as a kid. I would sometimes play alone narrating what I had seen. I would talk to myself and recall the ingredients used!

I grew up and things changed. Buried under college assignments and work, I slowly forgot how much I love cooking. Things eventually changed for good and I’m so glad that it directed me back to my passion – cooking!

My first cooking class was an experience to cook together. I’ve always enjoyed cooking alone and even remember asking my mom to leave the kitchen while I cook in her kitchen. She would wait patiently for me to churn out something yummy. Habitually, she leaves me alone to cook all by myself till date, waiting anxiously with a glass of her favourite port wine.

Cooking together is a fun activity and I believe that we all learn something at the end – whether from an instructor or from the guests. Conversations become the key ingredient to any class. We end up talking about food and food only. How I love it! Talking about simple ingredient like rock salt and iodized salt can make the conversations informative and also gives a sense of discovery.

i2cook cooking class aims to bring people and conversations together while inspiring you to cook. It aims at making enhancers or condiments and enjoy the true flavours of ingredients. The first  i2cook class took place in July, we made three dips to showcase that dips can be made attractive to kick-start your party. I’m sharing all the recipes of the class for those who have missed and for those who would like to make.

Mexican Seven Layered Dip

Mexican Seven Layered Dip

(Serves 2, the measurements are approx. You can add more of anything if you like to indulge in  guilt-free happiness)

100gms red beans/rajma, boiled & mashed

1tbs chopped canned jalapenos

1/2tsp cumin powder

2-4tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese

100-150gms sour cream (homemade or store bought)

100-150gms guacamole

2-4tbs grated Monterrey Jack cheese

1/2tbs black olives, pitted

60 – 75gms Pico De Gallo

Recipe for Pico De Gallo – ½ red onion finely diced, ½ red tomato finely diced, 1tbs chopped cilantro, 1tsp fresh lime juice, 1/2tbs chopped canned or fresh jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients and it is ready to serve.

Recipe for Guacamole – half ripe avocado, ½ red onion finely diced, ½ red tomato finely diced, 1tbs chopped cilantro, 1tsp fresh lime juice, 1/2tbs chopped canned or fresh jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.

Mash the avocado coarsely. Mix all the ingredients and it is ready to serve.

Recipe for Sour cream – 100gms cream, 25gms buttermilk or sour cream.

Mix all the ingredients in a jar. Allow it to stand at room temperature for 24 hours, covered. Refrigerate for further thickening. Sour cream can be refrigerated upto a week.

Homemade Sour Cream

Layering

  1. Mix the beans, cumin powder, jalapenos and salt in a bowl. Lay it at the bottom of the serving dish.
  2. Sprinkle cheddar cheese.
  3. Spread sour cream evenly in a single layer and take care not to disturb the cheese underneath.
  4. Spread the layer of guacamole over the sour cream.
  5. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese.
  6. Place a layer of pico de gallo.
  7. Lastly, sprinkle some black olives and jalapenos.

Serve cold or at room temperature with nachos.

Sour Cream Dip

Corn & Bacon Dip or Corn & Sour Cream Dip

(Serves 2, the measurements are approx. You can add more of anything if you like to indulge in  guilt-free happiness)

100gms sour cream

1-2tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese

1-2tbs grated Monterey Jack cheese

1tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

For garnish cooked sweet corn kernels, chopped green chillies and/or crispy bacon bits

Mix all the ingredients apart from garnish and keep it refrigerated for an hour. Fill the tarts with dip and garnish.

You could also serve with crackers or veggies.

Date & Tamarind Chutney

Date & Tamarind Chutney (Indian dip

(Serves 2, You will get approx.300gms of finished chutney)

100gms dates, seedless and washed

1/2tsp ginger powder

50gms jaggery

60gms tamarind paste

1/2tsp chilli powder

1/2tsp cumin powder

250ml water

  1. Puree the dates in a grinder. Do not fine grind it. It is nice to taste bits of dates in your chutney.
  2. Mix date puree, tamarind, jaggery, water and chilli powder in a pan and cook on medium heat.
  3. Allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add cumin powder and turn off the stove.
  5. Allow the chutney to cool. Keep refrigerated for a month or two.

Serve hot, cold or at room temperature with samosas, chats and many more Indian delicacies.

The event was carried out with the help of Groovy Two Shoes and we enjoyed ourselves pulling it off. The hard work did pay off.  Have a look at the Groovy two shoes’s FB page and the blog.

The classes will be  held regularly in Bandra, Mumbai. Follow i2cook’s FB page for latest updates.

All set before the class

Cooking together!

Choose what you like….

Networking after the class over chai

Giveaway!

A true foodie…


Food at Coral – dinner with strangers

 Roasted herbed potatoes & chickpea salad

Coral is based on the concept of a Salon ( “sal-lawn”). A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation.

Coral is set in a bungalow sponsored by Prahlad Kakkar creating an ambiance; by cutting off from traffic and noise of busy Mumbai with flowing conversations over good food and drink. Coral dinners are facilitated by my husband, Pawan and me. I love to cook and Pawan came up with the idea of bringing in food and conversations together and thus Coral was born.

Muhallebi  rice flour based dessert

It’s been a year since we started Coral and I’ve enjoyed setting up various menus. The idea is to focus on different cuisine, serving a 4 course meal. We want to provide a home cooked meal, native to a region that we may have never visited but possesses a culture that is brought out through its cuisine. It can be a dish from Pandi curry  from Coorg or Muhallebi  from Turkey.

Pandi curry with kadambuttu (rice balls)

Coming up with the menu can be a tough task and especially when I have not tasted the cuisine recently. I try to include dishes that you don’t get easily in Mumbai and some that are inspired. Sometimes non availability of ingredients, requires  substitution to bring it as close to it’s authentic taste. Recently we had Indonesian as the theme and it was challenging. I’ve never tasted an authentic Indonesian meal and the closest would have been a nasi goreng. Indonesian is  close to Malay food. Flavours are very simple – lemon grass, galangal/ginger, coconut, plam or coconut sugar. Blogs have always been my major source of information and inspirations. I’ve always been asked about the menu and how did I manage to get the recipes – the credit goes mostly to blogs. Getting the right information and creating a satisfying palate to go with our guests is a task that I’m trying to perfect.

Chilled avocado milkshake shots (made with palm sugar & coconut cream), Indonesian Corn Fritters (Perkedel Jagung), Indonesian fried chicken with crunchy flakes served with sambal terasi (red chili paste) &Yellow rice combo  – Coconut milk & lemon grass flavoured rice served with chicken rendang & shredded fried egg

Rujak Serut – chilled mixed fruit salad (jackfruit, mango & Malay apple) served with Indonesian dressing – palm sugar, tamarind paste, lime and coconut

Here is the FB page in case  you’re interested in knowing about Coral dinners. Post by various guests who experienced Coral – Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, Eats, Feeds & Digs & Mizohican.