Looking for a cook

Why I need a cook

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Bayda Bai the cook has gone home on leave. Not only has this left me in charge of the kitchen but it has also left me with the realisation that I need a cook.

But I don’t need a live-in or full time cook because we don’t really eat all the time. Yes, we do spend more than half the day doing other things like sleeping, reading, writing, walking, working and other things that one does when one is not eating.

Surprisingly, I like to cook. This is because I like to eat. But I don’t  eat just anything and all the time. I only eat the things I like to eat. However, cooking every day can become a drag especially when our food factory starts at 6 am. That’s when we all wake up and start in the direction of the kitchen to have our morning wake up brew. ( Mine is coffee while the rest of the household has various teas – some Chinese, some Indian and some Green)

Even before this unearthly hour, the kitchen light comes on and Bayda is busy boiling the milk, chopping the fruit and making oatmeal into porridge and pancake. She is also busy boiling an egg and brewing a huge pot of tea.

While the breakfast is underway, she is busy getting ready for the first lunch box that has to be packed before 8.30 am. After this is done, she makes the lunch and or dinner for the rest of the household. Between 1 and 4, our kitchen is officially closed and the only reason we venture in its direction is to get a glass of water or raid the stash of biscuits/nibbles for a quick snack.

At 4 we all go through another round of teas and coffees before we start discussing what we would like to eat for dinner.

Then from 6-10 begins the preparation, serving and clearing up after dinner.

Having done this for the past one month, I am now quite exhausted.

Looking for a part time cook

Lest you get the impression that Bayda Bai does all this unaided, let me correct you. She has a sous chef who is otherwise her boss i.e. me or Yours Truly. While she does the grunt work, it is often left to me to provide the gourmet touches.

Undoubtedly, our meals have become more simple since Bayda Bai has gone with everyone’s wish list whittling down to the basics. Gone are the varieties of teas and different kinds of oatmeal. Gone too are the multiple spoons and forks that were laid out at each meal. Instead we have become terribly pedestrian and actually help ourselves from the kitchen and make multiple trips to the kitchen for more. Needless to say, the urge for a second helping has miraculously vanished .

It would seem that we are all better off without a cook. We are eating less. We are eating healthy. And we are eating fresh.

Besides within a week or two Bayda Bai will return back with better vision than before since she has had her lenses implanted.

But I still need a cook – at least a part time one so that the next time she goes on leave, I don’t have to double up as cook, waiter, shopper, cleaner and doer of other household chores like laundry, baby sitting, chauffeuring and banking. I thought a part time cook would be a great long term solution.

So I put out the word that I was looking for a part time cook.

The Interview

As with all jobs, I had a job profile and a list of prospective candidates. I also had a list of questions. But I was shocked that instead of the cooks, it was ME who was being interviewed!

The questions I was asked were :

How many people live in your house? 

When I mentioned the number, they would cautiously look around just incase there was someone else I hadn’t accounted for.

How many dishes do you want me to make?

When I mentioned that our normal meal consisted of rice, chapati, vegetables and daal, they were horrified!

How many meals do you want me to make?

I expected them to make two meals because that is precisely what I do.

So does that mean you want to make twice the quantity at one time or two different menus?

In our home with its erratic eating patterns this is a hard one to answer. Whatever it was, my family expected two wholesome meals twice a day.

These women were aghast when I mentioned that they had to clear up and wash the cooking utensils after they were done cooking. They were horrified when I told them that meals should be ready before lunch time ( we serve lunch at noon). But what shocked me was the fact that they wanted a salary of Rs.10,000/- for a mere 1 1/2 hour job! 

Am I delusional or is Rs. 10,000/ a month the right salary for a part time cook? 

Stale bread ? Make Pudding.

Bread pudding is an easy to make dessert that pleases every palate. A great way to use up old bread too!

Let them eat breadImage for let them eat bread pudding

Just before the French Revolution broke out, millions of Frenchmen were starving. It is assumed that their Queen Marie Antoinette, is said to have told her subjects

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”Oct 24, 2012.

I would have been enraged too, had I heard these words and it is no wonder then that the queen lost her head.

However, this is one ‘cake’ that will have your family asking for more.

How to make bread pudding

Generously butter 4-6 slices of bread. Tear them into pieces and place in a deep baking dish. Intersperse with dried black currants.

Take 3 tablespoons of sugar in another bowl and whisk together with an egg. Add a cup of milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence. Continue whisking till the sugar dissolves.

Pour the whisked egg and milk mixture over the bread. The bread should be completely soaked and if you run short of milk, you can easily add some more.

Pop the dish into an oven and cook at 100 C for 20 minutes or till the top has just browned.

Serve warm either plain or with some cream or vanilla ice cream.

TIP

You could grate some nutmeg as well in the milk and egg mixture for added flavour.

Black currants give a special tangy crunch but you could substitute with regular raisins too.

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Eggs Perfectly Scrambled.

 

The secret of the Perfectly Scrambled Egg

 

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Breakfast is the perfect start to a day. Especially when it’s a good old scrambled egg to begin the day with. The soft, fluffy light as air, scrambled egg on a thick, buttered toast . It’s quite an art to make the perfect scrambled egg. Cook it a tad too much and it becomes hard and lumpy, with a runny liquid that makes the toast a soft and soggy.

So what is the secret to the perfectly, scrambled egg? One that leaves it light, soft and warm as it slips down your throat leaving you really satisfied.

It’s simple really :

The secret of the perfect scrambled egg is to stir in a just the right amount  of milk in a lightly beaten egg and cook over a slow fire, stirring all the time to prevent a lumpy mess.  Add a dash of butter and a pinch of salt to the egg and milk mixture and heat gently over slow heat till the egg just begins to set into a soft, custard. That’s the time , to take it off the heat and gently pour this gooey mess over a hot, buttered toast.

I allow the egg to cook in its own heat as I take the dish to the table. There I open my fresh newspaper and  sit down to a hearty breakfast . As I sip my cup of hot steaming coffee, I cut the toast into small squares and delicately lift one morsel at a time. I  pop it into my mouth and wait for a million sensations to just burst forth. It is a warm, fuzzy feeling that fills my entire being as I savour bit by bit of my perfectly scrambled egg.

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The joys of a Mumbai Winter – #Fresh Carrot halwa

Hello and welcome to my new series on the joys of a Mumbai Winter.

Yesterday my Facebook page announced the official beginning of Winter. Of course this was pertaining to the US of A (whose shores I just left early this month). In India Winter has officially begun on Sharad Purnima or 15th October of this year. But I found a kilo of fresh carrots that inspired me to make my all time Winter favourite  – Gajar Halwa or carrot halwa.

One of the things we Mumbaikars love from Delhi are the carrots that invade our markets only in Winter. This distinctly red, succulent root vegetable is delicious raw but even more delicious when made into a halwa or traditional sweet.

The joys of a Mumbai Winter – #Fresh Carrot halwa

The joys of a Mumbai Winter – #Fresh Carrot halwa

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh Delhi carrot. This works out to 5 heaped cups
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom coarsely crushed and skin removed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5-6 strands of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon of almond slivers

Instructions

  • Wash and peel the carrots. Pat dry and coarsely grate and keep aside.
  • In a pressure pan or heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee and add the cloves and cardamom.
  • Add the grated carrot and stir well. Cover the pan and allow the pressure to build. Turn off the heat and allow the carrot to simmer for 10 minutes or so. They should be just tender to the touch and not overcooked.Alternatively, the carrots can be cooked in a tightly covered heavy bottomed pan so that the carrots sweat in their own juice.
  • While the carrots are being done, dissolve the sugar in the water in another pan. Bring to the boil and add some strands of saffron. Take care not to over cook the syrup. It should be of single string consistency.
  • When the carrots have cooked, add the sugar syrup and continue cooking till the sugar syrup is absorbed. By this time the halwa will have a nice glossy look.
  • Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top.

Notes

This halwa is traditionally made with milk solid (khoa) but I prefer not to use it as I feel this hampers the colour and look. Instead I prefer to serve it with vanilla ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped cream!

http://foodities.in/joys-mumbai-winter-fresh-carrot-halwa/

 

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Alaskan Salmon with Orzo Salad

This week   #BlueApron , which we resumed  this week , introduced me to a very interesting Alaskan Salmon on a bed of Orzo Salad.

I learnt some very interesting facts with this meal

  • The Alaskan Salmon is a country cousin of the Norwegian Salmon that I’ve relished as thin slices smoked to perfection and eaten plain or in tiny sandwiches .
  • This ray finned fish is found in the cold waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans . You can find out more about the Wild Alaskan Salmon here.
  • The Salmon like the trout live in the oceans but return to the fresh water upstream to breed .
  • The salmon is an oily fish and is comparable to our Indian Rawas

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  • Orzo is a wheat pasta that looks like RICE! This short grain like pasta is ideal for soups and salads.
  • You can make a salad with French Beans.

As usual, #BlueApron provided all the ingredients and the knick knacks as they call the accompanying condiments essential for the dish.

how to make the alaskan salmon and orzo salad.

I am  blogging on my iPhone with a baby on my lap so cannot give the exact amounts now. But I just had to share this with you. If you are an experienced cook ( or an adventurous one) you could try this. Or wait till I post the exact recipe soon. 

With salt and pepper as seasoning, some finely minced garlic sautéed in olive oil, a handful of green beans , a sprig of spring onion and a dash of lemon juice it was easy to make the salad with the orzo that was cooked al dents.

And again the fillets of salmon that were seasoned with salt and pepper , were seared in a non stick pan in a drizzle of olive oil. The fillets were turned just once ( cooking each side for 4 minutes) .

Now isn’t that easy?

The next time you’re looking to make an easy and healthy fish dish, why don’t you try this?

My own suggestion 

I haven’t tried this but when I get back I’m going to try this with Red Snapper . This is a nice firm fleshed fish that lends itself well to fillets and grilling