I like Thursday mornings because that’s the day I get to have breakfast with Arjun after a week of rushing out of the house at 7AM. I take the time to make a lovely little breakfast for us as we sit at the table and slather whatever we’re eating with butter and watch the boats on the river go by.
This time, I made scones because they’re just so easy to put together- rub the cold butter into the flour. Add a spoonful of sugar and baking powder and then bring it all together with an egg and some milk until it’s a wee bit sticky, cut into pieces and bake. Fresh, hot scones from the oven ready in 20 minutes. We ate the scones with clotted cream and a lovely apricot jam that our friend’s aunt in Orléans, France makes over summer and shares with friends and family. It is delightful – jam that tastes like fruit, not a jar of sugar.
I like the scones plain, but you can play around with flavours – some vanilla, lavender or lemon zest. Maybe even some nuts (always toasted) and dried fruits chopped up and stirred into the flour.
- 220g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 80g cold butter
- 1 egg
- 50-60ml milk (I approximated this, until I got a dough that came together and was a wee bit sticky)
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Work quickly with your fingertips, you don't want the butter to melt.
- Next, add the eggs and milk and work the dough until it comes together. It's okay if it isn't a very cohesive - just as long as it holds together.
- Roll out to a thickness of 2.5-3 cms. Using a pastry cutter, cut into rounds. Or if you'd like you can even cut it as though you're cutting a pizza.
- Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a dash of milk)
- Bake in a preheated oven at 175C until golden brown.
- Serve with clotted cream and jam.
I met my culinary hero. Live, in the flesh. I took a photo with him and he signed my book!
I do look up to loads of chefs, and even stalk some of them (which may or may not have to do with their good looks), but when it comes to Pierre Hermé, it’s undying reverence. And when I learned that he was going to be at Salon du Chocolat in Paris last November, I had to buy a ticket for the day he was demonstrating a recipe.
I sat through a few demonstrations before his, so by the time he was up, I had perched myself in the perfect spot. Just as he was about to come on, I kept turning to Arjun and telling him in a staccato-toned voice, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to be seeing Pierre Hermé. L-I-V-E. Pierre. Hermé!”
With his demonstration, everything was a class apart. No frantic scribbling of recipes – printed copies were handed out. And when it was time for tasting, perfectly plated baba au rhums were distributed to the entire audience, not itsy-bisy pieces of a big baba au rhum. Shortly after, everyone rushed to line up to get their books signed. Most were getting his new book, Ispahan, signed, but I’d lugged my copy of Macarons along for him to sign.
While I haven’t made his baba au rhum today, I’m sharing another iconic Pierre Hermé creation – the macaron. [read more…]
10 Commandments of Pierre Herme (French)
Cooking Family-Style With Chef Greg Marchand
The 15 Year Old Chef
How Iñaki Aizpitarte Does Lunch at Home - his restaurant, Le Chateaubriand, is where I’ve had one of my most memorable meals in Paris. I remember when I walked out of the restaurant, and thanked him for the meal, he came across as someone so friendly, so unassuming quite unlike his badass rockstar looks. “Merci, à bientôt!” he said. I’ll definitely be back soon.
Dinner with Iñaki Aizpitarte and Delphine Zampetti – yes, I’m an Iñaki stalker.
Photo essay of a Tuscan butcher breaking down a pig.
Tartine Book N°3 (USA | UK | India) Given the success I’ve had with the first Tartine Bread book, I can’t wait to start baking from this one.
French Regional Cooking – This book is out of print, but I was lucky enough to find it online for a mere £0.01! My chef at Cordon Bleu recommended I buy this book when he read about my disdain for the bouillabaisse we made at school. He promised I’d change my opinion on the much spoken about seafood soup from the South of France.
Currently on my Kindle: The Belly of Paris (USA | UK | India), A Pretty Good Number One (USA | UK | India).
Margot Henderson on women in commanding positions in the kitchen.
The prettiest choux video ever.
Christophe Adam (swoon) make Baba au Rhum (thanks, Poppy!)
Iñyaki on video. Last one about him, I promise.
I’d been contemplating getting a few new tools for my knife kit. I just ordered 9 Pallarès Solsona carbon steel knives and am pondering over buying this oroshigane.
I’m pretty good at detecting flavours in recipe. I’m even proud of it. But when it comes to identifying bay leaf, I’m foxed.
I can’t seem to distinguish the subtle aroma that everyone else can. Even at school, when we made a bouquet garni of thyme and bay leaf rolled up in leek leaves and tied up with a twine, I’d never be able to identify the fragrance other than that of thyme and leek wafting from the pan.
I wondered about its importance in food, and I wondered why having too much of this might be toxic. A friend of mine even told me that it was absolutely imperative for us to add bay leaves while cooking Feijoada (Brazilian black beans) because that’s what sets them apart from the way black beans are cooked in the rest of Latin America. I smiled and I did as I was told, still wondering what difference they’d actually make.
Thank you everyone for your overwhelming response to the baking classes in Mumbai (as always!) I had so much fun teaching some of my favourite recipes and sharing tips and tricks. I was so happy to see many of you come back year after year, and was delighted to learn from so many of you that attending my class spurred you to start your home baking business. I’m around and happy to help you troubleshoot if you need me!
There has been quite an infux of emails about the classes lately. I don’t have any planned for the foreseeable future, but if you’d like to be updated about them, you can bookmark the page on baking classes, I’ve created just for this or fill out the form below and be the first to know when something comes up!
Happy baking! x Shaheen
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I am happy to say that I’m back home in Bombay for a short trip and I’m going to be conducting a few baking classes! Yet again, my suitcase was weighed down with all the cooling racks, cake pans, rolling pins, sea salt and whatnot because I was wanted to share with you some recipes and tricks inspired from my time at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and London and working at a few restaurants in Europe over the past couple of years.
On Friday the 28th of February, 2014, I’m going to set myself up at the Eighth* studio in a quaint bylane just off Carter Road in Bandra and I hope you can join me. If you are interested in attending, then please sign up by emailing me on email@example.com and I’ll help you with the registration.
Last year’s classes were so much fun and I can’t wait to do it all over again. Here’s a look at the photos from an earlier Purple Foodie Baking Class as well as a little TV clipping of when NDTV came in to shoot us.
This is the only set of classes that I plan to conduct in 2014. If last year’s response from 200 baking enthusiasts attending is anything to go by, I expect the seats to fill quickly so let me know soon and I’ll get back in touch on a first-come, first-serve basis. [read more…]
I’m spoiled for good things in Paris with boulangeries on either side of my building, but a train ride across the Channel changes things quite drastically.
Battling Paris withdrawals I’ve been investing most of my free time in recreating the goût of boulangeries, and while I think I’m almost there with my breads, my first attempt at making croissants has been spectacular.
Arjun and I have a little bread blog of our own which we used to track our first sourdough bread or pain au levain we made in Paris, terrified we won’t find it quite as easily in London. Our first attempt was far from desired, but we learned a couple of key things and I’ve been baking something pretty damn amazing in the following attempts. That bread sparked of my new found hobby of bread-baking without or with little need for yeast. It’s been incredibly fun and I reckon I’ll be blogging there a lot more than here, posting videos, articles, insights about bread baking should you care to explore this fascinating science as well.
While Artisan Breads Everyday (USA/UK/India) used to be my go-to book for baking (excellent for baking with yeast), it’s been sitting back on shelf while I’ve keenly been learning from Tartine Bread (USA/UK/India) and even got myself a copy of Tartine Book 3 (USA/UK/India) to keep me company on the train.
I have my kitchen table filled with all types of flours (just discovered wholemeal Kamut!) and I can’t wait to try baking with other grains and seeds. I’m looking to do more reading on the subject so if you know of cookbook/online resource that talks about the ancient ways of bread making and slow fermentation, I’m all ears!