Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Black & White - a Classic Combination

There is something to be said for the combination of black and white. Its a classic, tried and tested formula that, when used well, can energize a space and dial up its oomph factor. 

There is a certain sexiness associated with black & white. It can be almost beguiling at times. I think it has something to do with the fact that the two colors are so diametrically in contrast ,both visually as well as symbolically. The combination is powerful and yet there is also a strange simplicity to it.

Here are a few images of spaces which have used this most classic of combinations... Enjoy!

[Elle Decor]

[I have credited wherever possible. If I've missed you out, please drop me a line and I'll be happy to add it in]

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Family Pizza Night

One of my favorite things to do is baking bread. I think I have inherited my love of bread making from my mother. For some reason I find the entire process very comforting. And there is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. It brings back memories of childhood trips to Goa, where we would wake up to the smell of baking bread that would waft into the house from the neighboring baker's oven. We would feast on slices of these loaves, still warm from the oven, and slathered with generous amounts of butter and thick wedges of cheese. What bliss!

This weekend was a long weekend and the three of us decided to chill at home. The hubby took over the kitchen on Saturday and made breakfast and lunch which was a welcome break for me. UJ had finally recovered from a bad cold. So I decided to treat the two of them to some homemade pizza on Saturday night. 

I decided to stay classic with the toppings- just a simple tomato sauce, with goats cheese, onions and basil.

Making this pizza dough is the easiest thing in the world and I have to say that these pizzas turn out really well. Don't be intimidated by the lengthy instructions. Its is not at all complicated.

Here's what you need for the dough...
1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1 1/4 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 cups plain flour (maida)
1 tsp salt

For the sauce...
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 can peeled tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
dried oregano
chilli flakes
tsp sugar
salt to taste

I always make my sauce a day in advance because the taste is always better this way. To make the sauce, add chilli flakes and finely chopped garlic to olive oil warming in a pan. Quickly add in the chopped onions and cook till the onions are translucent. Then add in the can of tomatoes. If the tomatoes are full, try and mash them up a bit. Next, add in the oregano, salt and sugar and about a cup of water. Cover and simmer on low heat till the sauce starts to dry up and thicken. Once done, allow to cool.

For the dough, dissolve the sugar in warm water. Add the yeast to this and stir. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast mixture is all frothy.

Like this

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add in the salt and mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, followed by the oil. Mix with hands and slowly add water until the dough starts to come together. (Don't add in all the water at once)

Turn out onto a clean counter that has been lightly floured, and knead well until the dough feels elastic. This should take roughly about 15 minutes. If the mixture feels sticky add a little flour  to it. 

Once this is done, form the dough into a ball and place in a bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover the dough with a wet cloth and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Like this

Once again turn out onto a floured counter and knock out the air from the dough. Divide into balls, about 3"-4" in diameter. Roll out either into a circle or an oval, about 2-3mm thick and place on a lightly floured tray. Drizzle some olive oil over the base. Spread on some sauce and add toppings of your choice. Place in oven and bake till base appears slightly browned.

Remove from oven, drizzle some more olive oil on and add a few fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

Here are the results...

We made a round one and a few oval ones. I found the oval shape easier to manage in the OTG compared to the round one.

If any dough remains, wrap it in cling film and use it the next day.

[Images- Shalini Pereira]

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Shalini's Virgin Summer Cooler

Don't you just hate Mondays? First of all, you just don't want to wake up in the morning. All you really want to do is to switch off your alarm, pull the sheets over your head and ignore the world and all those grown up responsibilities that make you stressed and irritable. And, when you finally manage to drag yourself to work and get through the day, you get home exhausted, and just plain frustrated that Friday is another 4 days away!

Monday was just a tough day for all of us. It started badly- we woke up to a hot and sunny morning, and it just kept getting hotter and hotter. Plus the weekend was hectic since it was Vishu (our New Year). Saturday went in getting stuff done in preparation for Vishu and Sunday involved a lot of cooking for our traditional feast. All in all a fun, but slightly tiring weekend. 

So I decided to surprise the Hubby and UJ with a pitcher full of this cooler when they got back from work that evening. I had come across the recipe a while back, off course the original recipe called for Tequila, but it was Monday and even we are not that shameless! Although having said that, maybe starting the week with a pitcher full of Iced Tequila isn't a bad idea :) 

So here's my non-alcoholic version with a few additions. I've renamed it Shalini's Virgin Summer Cooler

Here's what you need...

2 cups of brewed Earl Grey tea (I used 1 tea bag for 2 cups of water)
2- 3 star anise 
1/2 cup mint flavored sugar syrup (normal sugar syrup infused with mint leaves)
2 cups guava juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
seeds of half a pomegranate (mash them up a bit so the juices run out)
lemon slices for garnishing

And this is all you have to do...

First of all add the star anise to the warm tea so that the flavor can infuse while the tea cools to room temperature.

Add all the ingredients to a pitcher and mix well. Add in a lot of ice and serve.

Here's how it turned out....

Next time I'll be naughty and add the tequila... 

[Images- Shalini Pereira]

Monday, 15 April 2013

A Fabulously styled Spanish Villa

Love the crisp, clean lines of this minimally styled Spanish Villa that I came across on the DustJacket blog. What makes the interiors so special is the way the sophisticated, almost all-white interior contrasts with the rich earthy tone of the rustic wooden beams in the ceiling- so cool and elegant. LOVE IT!

[Images from Dust Jacket]

Sunday, 14 April 2013

GoodHomes 5th Anniversary Mega April Issue

I’m really happy to have been, and to continue to be, associated with the GoodHomes team. A while back they were very kind to organize a Bloggers Meet for a few Delhi based bloggers. In fact we all spent a lovely afternoon together- some of us catching up with old friends, others, making new ones, but all of us having a great time! So I’m absolutely thrilled that GoodHomes Magazine is celebrating their 5th Anniversary- 5 years of keeping us all in the know about current trends in the design and décor scene in India, and the world. And they really have been doing a fantastic job!

To celebrate this landmark, their 5th Anniversary issue which is out on the stands, is a mega, 250 page luxury special that takes a look at the many facets of luxury living and indulgent home décor. 

There is an exclusive peek into the incredible Pataudi Palace, a place that epitomizes luxury and style. There is also a special section on luxury décor pieces that are ‘must-haves’, as well as a section that looks at what luxury means to some of the world’s best known designers.

Another great bonus is that there are great opportunities for readers to win some amazingly luxurious prizes, such as, luxury spa stays and custom made furniture that’s to die for.

GoodHomes Editor Ronitaa Italia-Dhanu sums it up best. “The 5th Anniversary issue looks at luxury as an experience; a way of life. It could be an object for some people, a feeling for others, or a setting for some others. Whatever it is, it is always aspirational. If I were to define 'luxury', I'd say it's a state of mind. One where you feel so good, you're always wanting it. And once you have it, you automatically and involuntarily aspire to another.
This issue endeavors to address not so much the feeling itself, but the aspiration of it. This issue is all about aiming higher; about living well.”

Here’s a sneak peek into the issue…

Friday, 12 April 2013

Friday Evening- Fun at Home

Friday is finally here! Last week was particularly hectic for me. In fact the weekend didn't even register. Had to work through most of it to make up for the time lost when I was in bed with a bad back. So I am really looking forward to this weekend and some down time. 

In fact I was just thinking how much I love Fridays, as I'm sure most of you who are lucky enough to have a 5-day week do. You're sort of filled with this anticipation, of looking forward to the weekend and all it brings- a chance to catch up with friends, go out for a night out on the town, lazy Sunday mornings, vegetating in front to the TV, and however else you unwind and recharge those batteries. 

Unfortunately most Fridays the hubby ends up working late, but, on those days when he is able to get off work early, we try to do something special and fun. Usually its visiting our favorite pub, Downtown, in Sector 29, Gurgaon. 

A few weeks back Hubby got off work early, but was in no mood to go out. So I decided to have a a cocktail evening at home. I had come across this cocktail recipe on Bakers Royale The cocktail just looked so pretty- ideal for a warm summer evening, and I was dying to try it out. The hubby and UJ (hubby's sis who also stays with us) & I (I wouldn't miss out on this for anything) were the perfect guinea pigs! 

I mean take a look at the prettiness....

[Images courtesy Bakers Royale]

Who could resist this?

So the three of us, the hubby, UJ and I took turns making this fabulous cocktail, Pomegranate & Basil Gin Smash, which sadly doesn't have a fabulous name to match. In fact, maybe someone could suggest one? 

Anyway here's what you need...

A bunch of purple basil (I used regular green basil, just added a little more since its slightly less peppery that the purple one)

A fist full of pomegranate seeds

120 ml Gin 

60 ml sugar syrup (make this by melting 1/4 cup of sugar with 1/4 
cup of water. The syrup should be cool))

30 ml lemon juice

Smash the pomegranate seeds and basil in a cocktail shaker using a muddler (use the handle of a wooden spoon if you don't have a muddler). Next add in a handful of ice cubes, the Gin, sugar syrup and lemon juice. Close the shaker and shake well until the shaker is really really cold. Serve over ice. You can garnish with extra pomegrante seeds, lemon slices and basil, if you want to be a bit fancy.

These quantities make about 3 generous servings, so you would have to do them in batches. 

Here's how ours turned out...

[Images- Shalini Pereira]

Not as pretty as the original, but the taste was amazing!

We really enjoyed the whole process. Don't know if it was the Jazz music or this smashing drink but it was a great evening at home, and a great way to catch up on the weeks events. I should warn you thought- these are really really boozy. The three of us went through three rounds each, and we were very 'happy' by the time we were done!

Happy Friday Everyone! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

House is in Athens, by Minas Kosmidis

I have a real treat for you today. I stumbled upon this beautiful home on the We Heart blog. For me, it was love at first site. There are so many ways to describe it, but to sum it up, I would say it’s a house that’s a little minimal, a little retro and has a lot of soul.

This house is in Athens and overlooks the Acropolis. How lucky is the owner! In fact, one of the major factors that guided the architect, Minas Kosmidis of the Architecture in Concept, in the re-model of the house was this incredible architectural gem of the ancient world. Big glass windows frame the view of the Acropolis and celebrate it in all its glory. 

The interiors are very contemporary. Its minimal, but not cold. I love the way the architect has managed to capture and convey the essence of this magnificent setting, but in a completely modern way. I absolutely love the wall finishes and the neutral color palette used throughout the house. They bring to mind ancient Greek villas and the rugged Greek landscape. I also love the retro touches like the mid-century arm chair and the funky center table.

Take a look. 

[All images courtesy- We heart]

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Panna Cotta with Strawberries

I have a confession to make. I don’t think I could survive without my sweet treats. All my friends know that I’m the kinda girl who would happily skip a main course, just so I can binge on dessert. And anything chocolate is what I usually go for. The hubby also knows this, and chocolate is what is usually offered as a peace offering after tiffs. There is always a bar of chocolate lying around and if I’m all out, I make do with a glass of hot cocoa. But as temperatures rise and summer sets in, I’m not really craving those rich, chocolate based desserts that I usually can’t resist.

For me summer means cool treats and that usually means ice creams! But I’ve been a bit pressed for time lately and so ice cream just feels like too much effort (I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I have to do things the hard way). So, come summer, I'm always on the lookout for easy, no fuss desserts that are light and, for lack of a better word, summery.

It was during one of these searches that I found this recipe for panna cotta with berries, on David Lebovitz’s blog, and decided to give it a try, because it just looked so delicious! In spite of this though, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive because, a while back, I had made a coconut milk panna cotta and was just not a fan. I found it just too heavy and rich. But I’m so glad that I decided to try this recipe out because the result was fantastic- a light dessert that wasn’t overly rich but quite delicious. The tartness of the berries cuts the richness of the panna cotta and that is what makes this dessert so refreshing.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of cream, and instead, you could use a cup of cream and a cup of milk. But you don’t have dessert everyday so why not treat yourself and go with all cream. I’ve have tried both options and the cream one is much better.

Here’s what you need...

2 cups cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
2 1/4 tsp gelatine
3 tbsp hot (but not boiling) water
Fresh strawberries that have been macerated (softened by adding sugar so the juice of the fruit comes out)
good quality strawberry or black current preserve that has been heated with a little orange juice to form a syrup. I can’t stress good quality berry preserve enough, because, if the jam is overly sweet the entire dessert will taste too sweet.

And here's how its done...

Grease 4 bowls or cups with neutral tasting oil.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine cream or cream and milk with sugar. If using a vanilla bean, split the bean, scrape out the seeds and add them as well as the whole vanilla bean skin to the pan. Heat mixture just till it begins to boil. Remove from heat and cover so the vanilla has time to infuse. If using the extract, then add the extract at this point.

I deviated from the David Lebovitz recipe here. In another pan, heat 3 tbsp of water till it is hot but not boiling. Sprinkle the gelatine on the water and whisk till it has completely dissolved. 

Add the warm cream mixture to the gelatine and stir till both are completely combined. (Remember to strain! The mixture should be smooth. Don’t worry about the tiny vanilla seeds that pass through, they are fine.)

Pour into serving molds and chill for a minimum of 2 hours. I chilled mine for 4 hours just to be safe. (Remember to strain! The mixture should be smooth. Don’t worry about the tiny vanilla seeds that pass through, they are fine.)

After the panna cottas have set , run a sharp knife around the edges of the molds and loosen from the sides. Turn out onto a serving plate. Just before serving, add the macerated strawberries or syrup and enjoy!

Here are the results...

And if by chance the panna cottas don't set or you're worried about unmolding them, they can always be served like this!

Next time I make these I'm going to try using white chocolate- just be make it a little bit more fancy.

[All Images- Shalini Pereira]

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Kanak & Anuj's Lovely Living Room

I'm really excited to bring you the 2nd installment of The All Things Nice - 'My Space, My Style' section. In this feature, we are looking at Kanak and Anuj's bright and beautiful living room. 

Kanak describes her style as, "A little modern, a little urban, a little farmhouse, a little Indian, a lot eclectic, very colorful and mostly cozy."

Kanak loves color and is not afraid to experiment with it. She believes that its all about the details- those little things that catch your eye and bring a smile to your face. 

I am so taken with the casual, laid back style of this space. Its so unpretentious. And I adore Kanak's collection of knickknacks, which she has lovingly added to over the years. This room has a wonderful homey atmosphere - its so welcoming but at the same time manages to be very contemporary and youthful.

Take a look & Enjoy!

My picks...

The green distressed dining table with the colorful metal chairs... love it!

The vintage looking lamp in the living room is another one of my favorites. 

Thanks Kanak for sharing!

[All Images courtesy Kanak Patel]

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