"IKEA" Braised Chicken Casserole

I did not really plan this post right after that

nordic last one

. It just happened that I went to IKEA last weekend. And, this is the perfect dinner to make while assembling furniture.

I have a confession to make. I really like IKEA. Actually, not the store, just the stuff. Oh yes, I know the furniture is not the real thing. I am not a fan of the bleached wood patterns. I know they are not sturdy and you get what you pay for. I know it is cheap and that is the main thing for many people and sometimes, functional and cheap is all you are looking for, like I did this time {Work table for $49 and assembled in 5 minutes! Beat that!}. Oh and the worst, the damn lines are snaking no matter what time of day or day of week you go. There is simply no gaming that system.

IKEA Brooklyn
The Coffee Lab, Bayridge

Coffee Lab, Bayridge, Brooklyn

Having said that, what I LOVE about IKEA stuff is how independent and strong it makes me feel. In short, DIY, in the most masculine of worlds; wood, furniture, power tools. It gives me a heady thrill. Ok, I don't have drills. I have to depend on my skinny forearm power for put things together. But, the rivulet of sweat that runs down my face as I put my weight into tightening the screws is a fabulous high. I love putting together stuff. IKEA gives even tiny people like me the stilts of being bigger and stronger, because they make it light, efficient and simple. Oh right, when you are on a budget or constantly moving, it is a great affordable alternative. Also, from experience I know IKEA stuff lasts longer than Walmart and BedBathandBeyond products but less than Crate and Barrel or West Elm ones.

So, that is why, despite the annoyance of navigating the store, I actually look forward to it. I am tired and worn out by the time check out is done but immediately after I perk up in anticipation of putting the piece together. I will even happily glad handle awkward pieces up four flights of stairs because I want to get cracking on it asap.

It was however dinner time by the time I got back. So, I of course, had to deal with a soon to be rumbling belly before my hedonistic and validation seeking mind could be served. Now, it had to be something that does not involve active stove engagement, obviously. Casserole, it was to be then. In the oven. Chicken hinds browned crisp in rendered pancetta topped with shredded cabbage, onion, fresh sweet corn went into a cast iron dutch oven. Topped with mustard, white wine, chicken stock and finally some homemade Apple-rosemary chutney, it bubbled away serenely for about an hour and half while I set up putting together the office/studio area, rearranged a bit of this and that around the house.

I was just about done in that time and I was ready and ravenous to dig into a succulent leg of slow cooked chicken sitting atop a generous serving of cabbage and onion braised in the juices of the dish rendered tender but still with a bite. It was perfect. I had earned it. And, it took me about 10 minutes of effort in all. I browned the chicken while prepping the vegetables and so they all came together at the same time. Brilliant I think.

This would be a fantastic meal for a crowd too or even with pork shoulder or leg of lamb. You will have to cook these meats longer but the flavors are surreal. And, because of the circumstance, I think this shall forever be called the


Braised Chicken Casserole


One Year Ago:

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Two Years Ago:

Saffron Aioli

Three Years Ago: Not much to say, apparently

Four Years Ago:

Filipino Chorizo Croquetas

Related post:

Quick Adobo Chicken

Quick Chipotle Chicken

Find the recipe in the Summer Issue of NOURISHED Magazine. Use links on sidebar to access.

"IKEA" Braised Chicken Casserole

{Note: If you linger over anything in this recipe, take the time to nicely brown the chicken skin. Because it is a slow cooking recipe, if you don't crisp the chicken skin first it becomes rather uninspiring to eat in the end.}

3 small chicken hinds (thigh + drumstick), with skin and bone

2 T pancetta

1/2 head of small cabbage, shredded

1 medium yellow onion, sliced

a carrot or two, sliced

1 ear of fresh sweet corn, kernels removed

4 T of Dijon mustard

3 T of grainy sweet mustard

1/3 -1/2 cup of apple chutney or other preserved fruit

half bottle of white wine

1/2 cup stock

salt, pepper and oil as needed

Preheat oven to 400F.

Over medium heat, render the pancetta till crisped in a dutch oven. Rub salt, pepper and little dijon all over the chicken. Add the seasoned chicken parts, skin side down. Turn the heat up and let it sit for 3-4 minutes until nicely browned. Turn the protein to brown on the other side as well.

Remove from heat. Lifting each piece, distribute half of the shredded vegetables under the chicken and the remaining on top. Season with salt and pepper. Distribute the mustard around the top. Pour over the wine and stock.

Cover and braise in the oven for atleast an hour and recommend for hour and half.

Raise the temperature to 450F. Remove the cover and continue roasting for 15 minutes.

Rest for a few minutes and serve. You can also top with sour cream if desired.


I am Asha, a transplant from India, living in New York, being a photographer, writer and an accidental entrepreneurWelcome to fork spoon knife, a place where I record my life in food memories through my camera lens and the wanderings of my mind.

During the day, I come up with ways to make my fledgling ventures sustainable. I launched FOODLY, a service oriented to inspiring people to cook more by teaching them to appreciate food and giving them ideas that work for their lifestyle. It comes with a lot of learning, sometimes, very hard ones, but all very enriching and insightful into myself. 

In Spring this year, I started a food magazine. Because, I wanted to create something that was accessible and affordable and delivers great value. It's called NOURISHED and honestly, I am chuffed about it. It is a quarterly magazine, with recipes and stories and lots of photographs. It is delivered in digital format and my hope is that, hence, it will be used more in the kitchen rather than languishing on a shelf. Do tell me what you think. And, if you are interested in being featured or contributing, please do drop me a note.

Apart from that I work with food and beverage, and, leisure clients clients on creating interesting and unique recipes, capturing the essence of their products through photographs and building brand visibility. As such, I am a writer and photographer and available for freelance work and business and brand consulting. 

I am affiliated as a journalist with Daily Meal. My work has been also featured on Redbook MagazineThe Kitchn, Gourmet Live, Honest Cooking Magazine, Spenser Magazine among others. For more information on my work, please check details under Published Work and PressMore of my portfolio is at Asha Photography.

Register for a cooking class here. I host classes Monday to Saturday and they can be tailored to your preferences. 

Request a private or group photography class at photography@ashaink.com.


Good Food Jobs did a feature about me and my work.

Mike at Spenser chatted me up a while ago. Here is the interview that shares a little more about me.


I am open to sponsorships with select partners. Please email me for a media kit. 

I do not do announcements or third party posts. So, please do not mail me about them.

All recipes are my own or solicited from friends as guest posts. I do not post commercial recipes, or unsolicited ones. Kindly do not mail me then asking to post.


I would love to hear from you. Drop me a note through this blog or mail me. You can also follow me on Twitter, InstagramPinterest, Steller , VSCO and Medium.

For consulting engagements, and further information on types of client work,  please email me at asha@ashaink.com

For commercial assignments, please email me at asha@ashaink.com.

For blog related inquiries, such as site advertising, using and licensing of previously published photographs and recipes, please mail me at asha@orkspoonnknife.com.

© 2008 - 2014 Asha Pagdiwalla - All content on this site is copyrighted. Please ask before you intend to use.


Portfolio: fork spoon knife

Please email asha@forkspoonnknife.com for Media Kit

For Blog related inquiries: asha{at}forkspoonnknife{dot}com

For product marketing and consulting:  asha{at}forkspoonnknife{dot}com

For photography and styling work: asha{at}forkspoonnknife{dot}com

Twitter: @ashainks

Published Work

I am a freelance writer with several publications including the Daily Meal. I am available for contract based journalism work related to food and travel in the US and internationally.

Syndicated Work - Writing and Photography

Spenser Magazine - Seville Travels

Spenser May June Uruguay 1

Daily Meal - New Haven - Food and Leisure


Spenser Magazine - Travel to Uruguay

Spenser May June Uruguay 1


Recipe Features

Redbook Mag - The Boozy Slushie Recipe Perfect for Your Weekend (Aug 8,2014)
Redbook Mag - Carrot Cake with Berry Roses (Mar 16, 2014)

Kale Crusaders - Roast Parsley Root and Lady Apple Soup (Apr 29, 2014)

Huffington Post - Red Currant Tea Cake (Aug 14, 2013)
Huffington Post - Koresht-e-Fesenjen (Jun 16, 2013)

Food 52 - Community Pick - Best Street Food Contest (Jun, 2011)

Honest Cooking - The Food Magazine - Sweet Potato & Fennel Frittata (Dec 28, 2011)
Honest Cooking - The Food Magazine - Pulled Tandoori Chicken sandwich (May 15, 2011)
Honest Cooking - The Food Magazine -Vegemite Molasses Lamb And Black Beans With Mushroom And Carrot Soup (Mar 24, 2011)
Honest Cooking - The Food Magazine - Garlic And Thyme Confit (Mar 17, 2011)

The Kitchn - Mushroon Ramen (Mar 18, 2011)

Gourmet Live - Citrus Pannacotta (Mar 4, 2011)

Food News Journal - Homemade Croissants (Jan 11, 2011)
Food News Journal - Leche Flan (March 10, 2010)

Verdemar Magazine - South African Tomato Bredie (Jun 29, 2010)


Whole FishCocktailsHummusSpicesCake and TeaBreadPieHealthy LunchSmoked trout

Summer has officially started!! To celebrate the warmer weather I am bringing you a SPECIAL OFFER through FOODLY's Personalized Recipe Service!

FOODLY's what, you ask?! Well, as part of my pledge to help people eat well and healthful, I am offering a service that literally helps you practice what I preach. It is like a concierge service, your counsellor, guide, mentor and well-wisher all rolled into one. Yes, I have set a lofty goal for myself and I promise to deliver to you.

The promise of this service is the same that FOODLY pledges in all its offerings - approachable, inspired and wholesome with the underlining must of flavor and likeability. By that last trait I mean, the recipes will be customized to your preferences, likes, restrictions, et all.

You are gluten free? Not an issue. Like Spanish? Sure. Hate carrots? Chill. You prefer less dairy? easy peasy. Vegan? It can be done.

I will work with you to craft balanced, satisfying and fulfilling plates for you (and your family) whether it is for everyday (by week or month) or special occasions, a regular family meal or a multi course extravaganza or intimate gatherings. Every engagement will be interactive through the design process and after through a honest feedback system.

For a limited time, I am offering TWO BONUS recipes with every consultation!!!

So, if you engage with me to create any kind of recipe plan, you will get two extra recipes free.
Even if you choose not to order your recipes immediately after the consult, I will send you two recipes free that you can test drive and then get back to me!

The process is simple -

1. A short get-to-know-you chat for 15 minutes.
2. Choose the number of recipes and I'll send your custom package.
3. Cook. Enjoy and let me know if I can tweak something for the next time.

Why is my service different from the countless others? Because -

1. Your Taste, Your Plate: You don't have to pick from a list of pre-made options. Every dish will be crafted to your tastes and skill level. So, I will be spending time thinking up plates that are unique for you and appeal to your palate.
2. All in the Family: You pay by recipe and not by number of people in your house or guest list.
3. Help in the Aisle: I can even help you shop for the ingredients if you need.

Those of you who read this blog are aware of the passion and curiosity with which I approach food. I will bring the same dedication in helping you cook more and eat better at home. I would really appreciate it if you could spread the word, tell your friends and anyone you think would like, want, or benefit from this service.

You can easily book a consult here. If you would like to gift a consultation to family or friends, drop me a note and we can set it up.



Granola with nuts and dried fruits

Homemade Basic Granola
Saffron, Apricot, Cranberry and Pistachio Granola Bars
Raw Nut and Fruit Bites


Blackberry and Rosé Wine Quick Jam
Orange Marmalade
Spiced Apple Chutney
Spiked Apple-Cranberry Relish
Strawberry and Ginger Jam

Pickled Zucchini in Rosemary and Garlic Oil

Smoked Cabbage Relish
Preserved Lemons with Rosemary
Pickled Zucchini in Rosemary and Garlic Oil
Garlic and Thyme Confit

Sardine pate

Preserved Lemon and Z'atar Hummus
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Purple Basil Vinegar
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Saffron Aioli
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Peach Amaretto Spritzer

Royal Salute
Peach, Basil, Amaretto Spritzer


Chocolate Affogato
Pomegranate Lemonade
Spiced Apple Cider


scrambled eggs in pan

Slow Scrambled Eggs
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Croissant-crumb close up

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Na'Na Caramelised Onion & Olive Pide With Feta 1

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Pear Gelee with Beef Short Ribs

Caramelised Onion, Paneer and Basil Pierogis
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Sundal (South Indian Chickpea Salad)


Tomatillo & Chard quiche

Ramp and Parmesan Tart for One
English Peas Tart
Leek and Cherry Tomato Galette
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Spring Radishes

Stuffed Eggplant Confit
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Wholesome Quinoa Salad with Fall Market Vegetables
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Simplest (Peasant) Dal
Roast Parsley Root and Lady Apple Soup"
Roast Butternut Squash Soup
Leek, Fennel and Potato Soup with Pancetta
Mushroom and Carrot Soup
Roasted Butternut Squash and Broccoli Soup
Mac and Cheese in Tomato Bowls
Beets and Squash Thyme Tart with Goat's Milk Ricotta
Bottle Gourd Kootu
Dal Tadka
Ginataan Kalabaasa
Kale and Carrot Crostata
Mushroom Ramen
Paneer Makhanwala
Roasted Pumpkin Barley Risotto
Roasted Vegetable Hash with Poached Egg
Sicilian Caponata
Moroccan Vegetable Stew
Quinoa Tart

Crawfish Boil

Dorade Stuffed with Fennel, Herbs and Orange
Meen Kozhambu (Madras Fish Curry)
Scallops and Sweet Potatoes
Smoked Paprika and Oregano Breaded Blowfish
Stuffed Squid in Saffron Tomato Sauce

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Seared Spring Lamb Chops with Polenta
Beef Roulade with Apple Parsley Root Puree
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Coriander Chicken Kurma
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Koresht - e - Fesenjan
Lebanese Soup with Moghrabieh
Mole Risotto with Chicken
Mutton Biriyani
Orzo Salad with Cumin Roasted Sausages and Tomatoes
Pomegranate and Cocoa Glazed and Pear Stuffed Quail
Rosemary scented Harissa Beef and Lentil Stew
Tomato Bredie

Agnolotti in Pan

Baked Basil Gnudi with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Dosas (South Indian Crepes)
Fresh Peas and Rice Salad (Pulav)
Lemon Rice (Elumichampazham Sadam)
Taleggio Agnolotti

Roasted Aubergine with Herb salt and butter

Stuffed Eggplant Confit
Braised Swiss Chard
Herb Roasted Eggplant


Chocolate Torte, Orange curd & Cherries

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Pumpkin Popcorn Pie
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Coconut cake with Meringue mascarpone frosting

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Cherry Amandines
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Poached Rhubarb and Almond Pannacotta
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Apple Crostata
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Banana Cake (Eggless)
Ravo (Semolina Pudding)
Blood Orange Leche Flan
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Citrus Frivolous: Orange Pannacotta, Lemon and Poppyseed Semolina Cake and Citrus Sauce
Cranberry (Fruit) Squares
Drunken Bread Pudding (with Pumpkin Challah)
Fruit Cake with White Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting & Fresh Raspberries
Indian Cashew Burfi
Lemon and Poppyseed Semolina Cake
Matcha Swiss Roll (Egg White only)
Red Currant Tea Cake
Rhubarb and Cherry Frangipane Tartelettes
Pots de Crème au Beurre de Pomme (Apple Butter Pots de Crème)
Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Strawberry Buttermilk Cake
Strawberry & Pistachio Tartelettes
Vanilla and Coconut Oat Pudding
Very Berry Nanaimo Bars


Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream
Roast Peaches with Summer Savory
Vanilla Poached Apples
Lavender Pannacotta with Pears in White Wine Gelee
Orange Poached Pears
Orange Tian with Spun Toffee

Beat the Blues cookies and Milk

Gluten Free and Vegan Nut Cookies
Gluten Free Pear and Oat Shortcakes
Very British Oat Biscuits
Oatmeal and Buckwheat Chocolate Cookies
Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crinkles
Fig, Cashewnut & Cardamom Biscotti
Fennel and Anzac Cookies
Rhubarb and Sage Shortbread

Ice cream

Double Chocolate Ice Cream
Cardamom Roasted Plum Frozen Custard (Ice Cream)
Blackberry and Sage Ice Cream
Fig and Balsamic Ice Cream
Lychee Ice Cream
Roasted Peach and Thyme Ice Cream
Vanilla Mascarpone Ice Cream

Travel stories


I work with US and international food and leisure companies on take-to-market strategies, new products and brand research, and positioning their products towards the appropriate target audience in the retail food and travel market
For further discussion on portfolio pricing, please email me at  
asha {at} forkspoonnknife {dot} com


I am available for freelance and long term engagements as related to  -

Consulting: Business Strategy, Product LaunchRecipe Development, Brand Management
Photography: Product Portfolio shoots, Product Styling
Writing: Travel, Culinary Travel, Food History and Recipes, Event coverage, Featured pieces


I offer dedicated advertisement space for banners to be displayed above the fold. Please refer to my website for a sample placement. Ad sizes are negotiable.

I use a lot of food related products (cutlery, china, tableware etc.) towards styling my photographs. I am willing to include your product in my photos and make special mentions within and at the end of the post. Please note that the ownership and copyright for these photographs will reside with me but can be licensed under a seperate contract.

W. A. Giveaway #2 - Photography Workshop in NYC


My second giveaway is dedicated to a joy that was unmasked through this blog... a love for photography ... capturing images the way I see them. When I started this blog, I started with an Olympus point and shoot that was very dear to me, until, one day, it died. I upgraded to a Canon point & shoot basic version, not much better in terms of sophistication. I was still toddlering about this form of expression. After about two years of blogging, and, countless hours of ogling gorgeous foodgasmic photos from some of my favorite food bloggers, I decided it was time to take the plunge and get the big girl camera. I got a Nikon D5000 and that has been my loyal companion since on all my photo journeys and escapades!

I have been asked many times, how I learned to shoot. I don't really know how to answer this because I had no method or class. I twiddled around with the buttons, setting, style, everything for a long time and took a giant leap of faith in myself, a deep breath and plunged right into it. All the while, knowing full well that this is going to be a long and continuous journey of learning and there was no point in thinking about where I was now. I looked to where I wanted to be and drew inspiration from all the photographers around the web! I have a style now but I get bored of it soon enough and yearn to change it. I come across a new style of photos and I try to emulate, tweek, change, get comfortable... move on!

It's the best hobby for the very restless, easily distracted, yet obstinate people... like ME! :) This blog is a journal of that growth and even as I cringe when I look at the photos of yester years, I am filled with a sense of pride on how far I have come from there.

So, here I am, putting myself out there once more through this giveaway - a Photography Workshop for you from me.

waiting to cool - set up shot


1. Through this hands-on workshop, you will learn food styling tips, how to work with natural light and how to handle post production. I will walk you through the techniques of using camera, setting up the subject (study of lighting and styling) and developing an unique style signature.
2. Two winners will be chosen. Non-residents of NYC can participate if you can travel to the city.
3. Date: A mutually (between the three of us) agreed upon day before December 31, 2013.
4. Location: New York City, Indoor or On-Location, weather permitting.

Region: New York

Giveaway Ends on: June 24, 11:59 PM, EST

General Rules:

To participate in the giveaway, you can do one or all of the below. Each one will be counted as a separate entry -

1. Leave a COMMENT on the giveaway post declaring intention to participate
2. If you haven't already, LIKE the fork spoon knife Facebook page that is brand spanking new
3. If you don't already, FOLLOW me on twitter (@ashafsk) and TWEET this giveaway with tag @ashafsk and hashtags #forkspoonknife and #madebyasha
4. If you don't already, FOLLOW me on Instagram (ashafsk)
5. If you don't already, FOLLOW me on Pinterest (@ashafsk)

For NEW Likes and Follows only. However, tweets from old and new followers count as an entry. For new followers, please leave me a comment here saying you did so. Thank you.

Specific Rules:
1. Please include #fskgiveaway2 in your tweets

Announcement: Winners will be picked and announced within a week after the closure of the giveaway.

Wooden Anniversary Giveaway #1 - Something Homemade, Something Local

I am probably the only one who didn't know that a five year milestone is scripted in Wood, until last week! So cool! So anyway, here I am, totally kicked for having completed five glorious years of a roller coaster ride. It is still sinking in, even as I celebrate; so, if I suddenly start sounding crazy and maverick in a week or so, then just... well.. laugh along, will ya?! :)

As I mentioned in my announcement post, I want to share the joy and celebrations with you all who have made this possible and I have a series of giveaways lined up for you guys in different regions of the world.

Basic Rules to Play
are as below.
{Additional specific rules will be listed with the giveaway, if applicable.}

1. Giveaways will be announced one a week, starting today.

2. Each giveaway will run for 14 days from the day of announcement until 11:59 PM, EST, of the last day. {I will use the time stamp}

3. To participate in the giveaway, you can do one or all of the below. Each one will be counted as a separate entry -

a. Leave a COMMENT on the giveaway post declaring intention to participate
b. If you haven't already, LIKE the fork spoon knife Facebook page that is brand spanking new
c. If you don't already, FOLLOW me on twitter (@ashafsk) and TWEET this giveaway with tag @ashafsk and hashtags #forkspoonknife and #madebyasha
d. If you don't already, FOLLOW me on Instagram (ashafsk)
e. If you don't already, FOLLOW me on Pinterest (@ashafsk)

For NEW Likes and Follows only. However, tweets from old and new followers count as an entry. For new followers, please leave me a comment here saying you did so. Thank you.

4. Winners will be picked and announced within a week after the closure of the giveaway

5. All giveaways will be valid until Dec 31, 2013 and can be redeemed (as mutual schedule works) in that time frame

That's it. 5 simple rules. 5 different ways to win! :)

So, let's go with the details of the first in this series. This one is for my readers in the United States -


Homemade Jam

My first giveaway is a Foodie Gift Hamper of five food items including homemade goodies {#madebyasha :)} and taste of some local New York farmers' produce (such as honey).

I will work with you on any dietary restrictions and preferences (especially, for items made by me) to create a basket that will be distinctively personal and lovingly made and selected. If you have specific things that you like from the site and that can handle transport, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Region: Continental US

Giveaway Ends on: June 17, 11:59 PM, EST

General Rules: As above

Specific Rules:
1. To qualify, please let me know your favorite savory or sweet recipe from this blog in your comment.
2. Include #fskgiveaway1 in your tweets

Thank you for playing and looking forward to hearing from you. Your comments provide valuable feedback and I appreciate every single one of them!

Hootie and the Blowfish.. and Couscous :)

Blow Fish with Couscous

Quick stop today! Have you tried the Blowfish before? No not the band (although those stories are welcome) but the fish.. :) yes, from that same family as Puffer fish but not quite as sinister!

Blowfish is a white fleshed, mild flavored fish that easily picks up the flavors that you coat it in. It is much like chicken in that respect as also in the way you eat it.. like a drumstick.

For a quick meal, I paired Smoked Paprika and Oregano Breaded Blowfish with a fresh Couscous with cucumber, sundried tomatoes and walnuts.

Smoked Paprika and Oregano Breaded Blowfish
(serves 2)

4 plump blowfish, cleaned and de-finned
2 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper as needed
4 T flour for dredging (you can use rice flour to go glutenfree)
1 tsp oregano
oil as needed for sauteeing

Season the fish with salt, pepper and paprika. Mix the oregano into the flour and lightly salt it.

Heat oil on medium high in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Touch the edge of a fish to the oil, if it sizzles then we are ready to go. Using the tails to hold the fish, lightly pat both sides in the flour. Dust away excess flour and place in frying pan. Do not touch for 2 minutes. Gently lift turn over and cook for 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Quick lunches and Seafood

Stuffed Squid

Summer is the time for most things perfect.. beautifully ripe produce and the high season for meat. Except it is perhaps a bit too hot, in many places, to do much with all that good stuff.

Easy, quick meals that do not require prolonged periods of standing over the flame are my way of cooking through these few months of heat. Yes, and things that require the oven to be turned on are kept to necessity.

Crawfish Boil

Seafood becomes the go to choice of meat. It's fresh, ridiculously succulent and flavorful and cooks in a jiffy.. not to mention the versatality of use.. from salads to, full blown gourmet entree that you can put together with minimal sweat (pun intended!)

Sometime back, my favorite seafood market was carrying fresh crawfish. So we had a simple lunch of a couple of pounds of the shell fish cooked in a spicy, Creole inspired broth.

Another day, as I was perusing one of my few cookbooks, I came across a Spanish recipe for Stuffed Squid, which, made quite a lot of sense and packed a whole lot of flavor. That's my recipe today!

Stuffed Squid sliced

Enjoy, and stay cool (or warm!) this week! :)

Stuffed Squid in Saffron Tomato Sauce

For the Squid:
8 baby squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and reserved
4 shallots, diced fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T golden raisins
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt and paprika for seasoning

For the sauce:
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
3 T dried apricots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp saffron
1/2 cup stock
salt, pepper and oil as needed
cilantro, red onion, tomatoes for garnish

To prepare the squid:
Finely chop the tentacles and mix all the stuffing ingredients together. Season with salt and paprika. Gently fill the squid cavity with the stuffing taking care to not be greedy! {the bodies shrink while cooking, so overfilling runs the risk of bursting at the seams}. Lock the ends with toothpicks. Set aside until ready for cooking.

To make the sauce, saute the garlic and onion in oil. When soft add tomatoes, apricots, saffron aand all the seasoning. Gently place the stuffed squid in the pan and pour the stock over. Cover with lid and cook for 15 minutes, then lift the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. During this time, turn the squid around for even cooking. Serve immediately garnished with diced onion, tomatoes and cilantro sprinkled.

Chasing the Sun.... Eggs Benedict

Late evening

Yesterday, I caught a bit of magic in the park...

I wanted to capture the beauty of the cherry blossoms that line the reservoir track in the soft glow of the evening sun. But, I did not manage to get to the park until 15 minutes before sunset. Yet, it was perfect timing.

As I walked around the reservoir track, I was able chase the setting sun and capture her various moods as reflected against the sky and over the water. It was nature at her best.

SunsetSunset by the railing - Midtown West to UWS skyline in the distance

Dusk Refracted hues of Dusk

Twilight Lights on twilight

Which one is your favorite?

Eggs Benedict

Also, this week I have the honor of guest posting on Prerna's blog, Indiansimmer. Prerna is a dear friend and I was so happy to share a piece of typical New York while she is away spending quality time in India. So, please head over to her blog to see my recipe for spending Sunday lazily perfect with Eggs Benedict at home made from scratch!

Eggs Benedict
(Homemade Thyme Biscuit, Asparagus, Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce)

For each sandwich:
1 thyme biscuit
1 egg, poached
2 spears of asparagus
3 T Julia Child's Hollandaise sauce
salt as needed
1 tsp butter, softened
Cut each biscuit in half horizontally. Spread butter on the bottom half. You can toast if you like. I just prefer fresh out of the oven biscuit as is. Place the asparagus spears on the biscuit. Gently

Thyme Biscuits

200 g flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp thyme, finely minced
60 g cold butter, cubed
140 g buttermilk
1 yolk + 1 T cream for egg wash
Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Cut into the mixture the cold butter until they are no more than the size of peas. Stir in the thyme and mix well. Add the buttermilk and mix for form a dough. On a floured surface knead just a bit to make into a non-sticky dough ball.
Pat the dough out with your palms to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out scones and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush egg wash over the scones. Bake at 425F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on rack.

Pâté et Pain - Daring Cooks Bake in June

Chicken & Mushroom Terrine with Italian Bread 2

Yes indeed! We were asked to bake this month for the Daring Cooks Challenge. I am not all sure if it should not have been one for Daring Baker's but, I suppose, given it is a savory dish, it was a cooking challenge?!....

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

We were challenged to make atleast one Pâté from the listed options and one bread of our choice. Most of the recipes for pâtés use liver, which, I quite dislike. So, I scoured around for a recipe that did not use innards and such. Quite accidentally, I remembered a book I had bought a while back in an effort to make chicken more fun to eat (for me!). There I found a recipe for a Terrine made with chicken meat and mushrooms...

Chicken & Mushroom Terrine

There is some debate on what is and isn't a Pâté. You may have noticed, I mentioned Terrine before; that's what I made..

Our hostesses said - Technically, a terrine is a baking recipient, usually ceramic or porcelain, with a lid – but it can also refer to the contents of the recipient. And some of the pâtés we looked at were designed to be unmolded onto a dish and then sliced, while others were meant to be left in the jar or baking dish they were prepared in, and merely used as a spread.

Wiki concurs - In French or Belgian cuisine, pâté may be baked in a crust as pie or loaf, in which case it is called pâté en croûte or baked in a terrine (or other mold), in which case it is known as pâté en terrine.

Italian Bread

I decided to proceed with my Chicken and Mushroom Terrine recipe! For authenticity, I did bake it in a porcelain mold... I used chicken thigh and leg meat and combined it with red wine sauteed portobellos. Now, the recipe I was adapting called for fresh herbs and since I was making this late in the night, I was a bit short on most herbs.

I used what I had, which made for interesting flavors. I used mint and Fenugreek. Fenugreek is a bitter herb that is used a lot in Eastern cuisine. We use the leaves and seeds for cooking and it's bitterness is supposed to be good for the digestive system (or perhaps that was just made up so children would eat it!). Nevertheless, it does have much nutritional value.

As to the bread, Mr.FSK does not much gravitate towards the crusty varieties. So, I chose a bread with a softer crust. I have wanted to try baking an Italian loaf and this seemed the opportune moment. I followed Peter Reinhart's recipe to the T (Although I did substitute a third of the flour with whole wheat). We loved the bread. It was soft, filling and flavorful. And, the house was filled with such lovely aromas! :))

Chicken & Mushroom Terrine with Italian Bread

Verdict: A fun challenge, especially since I love to bake, even though, it was a bit hot around here for this exercise. I enjoyed the pâté but, perhaps, because I did not use the fattier innards, it was a tad dry and not creamy like I am used to it being. If I ever get the courage to cook liver and such, I may give it another try.. The bread, on the other hand, is definitely a repeat! :)

P.S. : I am sending my Italian loaf to YeastSpotting..

Chicken and Mushroom Pâté

2 shallots, chopped
2 generous cups, mushrooms, chopped (no stems)
1/4 cup dry, red wine
2 chicken thighs, skinned and chopped
1 egg
2 T fresh breadcrumbs
2 T chopped mint
4 T chopped fenugreek

optional: For serving, pistachios, tomatoes and mint

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook the shallots and mushrooms with wine in a sauce pan over low heat until the vegetables are soft and the mixture is dry. Transfer to a food processor along with the chicken, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning and process coarsely. Add the herbs and pulse briefly.

Spoon into greased molds and smooth the surface. Cover with foil and bake fpr 30-35 minutes until juices are no longer pink. Remove from oven and place a weight on top leave to cool and then chill.

Serve with roasted pistachios, thinly sliced tomatoes and garnished with mint.

Weekday Lunch - Pizzich

Pizzich assembly copy

I am not much of a solo eater.. I mean, I really don't like it or see the point of it. These days, unfortunately, I am on my own at meal times, a lot more than I'd like. Mr.FSK is travelling most of the week, which, means I fend for just myself, which, not only is boring but downright inspiration-sapping...

I can easily get by the day with cereal, instant noodles or at the most, easy to make Indian snack items, which, really make quite a satisfying meal! But, this week, I really craved something more substantial. And, I didn't even mind putting in all that effort for just me!

So, I made a open face sandwich on a pizza style flat bread base; and hence, the name Pizzich! Over the bread, I slathered spicy aioli (made with spicy sundried tomato paste, mayo and lemon juice), smoked pepper turkey, arugula, more sundried tomato, red onion. Then, in the cooling oven (from the flat bread making), I melted provolone cheese and we were all set for a simple yet sumptuous lunch!

Pizzich assembly - side view

Flat Bread
(makes 2 sandwich bases)

1 cup all purpose flour + more for dusting
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm water + more if needed
1 T olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into a ball. Knead the dough for a minute or two until you get a nice elastic dough. Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat all over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place till it doubles in size (one to two hours).

When the dough has risen, gently punch it down with the palm of your hands. Fold the dough into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Divide the dough into two parts. Stretch each part into an approximate oval shape of the length you would like. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in an oven pre-heated to 450F for 10-15 minutes until a bit puffed and golden.

Remove and arrange sandwich. If you want to melt cheese, stick the assembled sandwich back into the oven for about 3-4 minutes, long enough for it to melt and you are all set with a scrumptious lunch!

This flat bread is being sent to my favorite Yeastspotting team!

Mamasita, Melbourne

One of the restaurants I really wanted to try in Melbourne was Movida that was recommended by Trissa as well as Julia, when I met her in Brisbane. Unfortunately, we were in the city over the Easter weekend when the restaurant was closed, much to my disappointment. It was just a stone's throw away from the hotel where we were staying. Sigh... oh well!

However, on the bright side, we discovered a lovely new Mexican joint, Mamasita. It was truly by serendipity. We were walking along Collins street in vain search of a Indian place that was recommended by our concierge, when I noticed this flight of stairs overhanging with people and an unobtrusive sign that said "Mamasita".

Something in the name triggered a vague memory of having come across it somewhere and despite the daunting line, I convinced my friend to do a look-see and perhaps return with reservation. A peek at the menu baited us and we waited a bit for the "host" to check on the wait time. As it happened, most of the people waiting were large groups and us being just two really helped in getting a table ASAP!

Zucchini Blossom & goats cheese tamale with red pepper escabeche

We were seated in a sort of bar style area, without the bar. That is to say, there was a bar in the restaurant, just not where we were. Aside from the typical table seating area, there was a enclosed section of seats that were by the wall, with a view looking out or in or the wall. We got the well.. No worries! :)

We browsed the menu again, this time in more detail. The first thing we noticed was that the prices were unlike what we had been exposed to in Queensland, viz. reasonable. Entrees were in the $20 range. We were unsure of portion sizes but decided to start with one main dish each.

Chili Relleno

My friend being vegetarian chose Chili Rellenos and I chose the Mole, partly because it is indeed the quintessential Mexican dish and hence, the perfect test for the restaurant but also because I wanted to compare with the one I made a few weeks back.

Once we placed our orders, I went around exploring the space. The decor is simple and reminiscent of NYC restaurants. The kitchen is an open layout and Executive Chef Jason, also co-owner of the joint, was friendly and more than happy to let me shoot his creations fresh out of the kitchen!

Chicken Mole

Back at our "table", our dishes were served. As far as portions go, they were on the smaller side. But what they lacked in size they made up for in flavor. My friend, who typically is a sloooow eater, cleaned up her plate in less than 10 minutes!! She could not stop raving about her relleno although she said she could have done with more on the plate. My Mole was light, flavorful and had an edge to it from the hot chilli slices from the garnish and the chicken was perfectly cooked.

Our "host" checked up on us from time to time during the course of our meal and on one such occasion we uncovered the story behind the restaurant. Matt, our "host" and co-owner of Mamasita, is a NYC trained chef who went to Melbourne looking for a restaurant adventure and found it! The restaurant is barely four months old and he is already looking for opportunities in NYC.

Jason and Matt, the owners of Mamasita

Overall, we had a satisfying meal and would definitely recommend anyone in Melbourne to make a stop at Mamasita. And, I am looking forward to Matt's debut in NYC! :)

P.S. The answer to the trivia question in the last post is - Melbourne skyline from St. Kilda pier

Mediterranean Baked Red Snapper and Aussie Trivia

Ok! Let's start with a trivia question from my trip. Tell me where the below photo was taken ...

Picture 603-2 copy

While you ponder the photo, let me just say .. I am back! :) Well, I seem to be saying that every other month!! Hmmm... Anyway, after almost a month away from home (and my kitchen) I am back to wearing clothes from the closet rather than the crumpled suitcase stuff. OK! I really can't complain... We spent all that time living in 5 star hotels and luxurious resorts. Still, I am glad to be back on home ground..

The travelogue is due.. I am still sifting through the pile of photos I took during the trip. Meanwhile, I did not want to be absent from my space here. I have not yet gotten into the full swing of cooking, photographing, posting... So, while I am still recovering from the jetlag, I leave you with a dish that I made before I left - Mediterranean Whole Baked Red Snapper.

Mediterranean Whole Baked Snapper

I found some gorgeous snapper at my seafood store and immediately grabbed one. I love snapper, one of the few fishes I can eat without a fuss! It's mild flavored, cooks easily, can be flavored with pretty much any seasoning and when fresh has a slight sweetness that is quite enticing..

I have a fascination with cooking fish whole. I don't often do it but I love the way it looks on the table (ofcourse ignoring that eye!). For this one, I made a simple Mediterranean influenced marinade with olives, coriander, garlic, capers and olive oil. To make a complete meal of it, I baked the fish with red peppers and red onions. The juices from the fish and marinade flavor the veggies as well making it a nice wholesome meal. I served this fish over lemon rice .

Mediterranean Whole Baked Snapper

Zucchini-Cocoa, Lime-Ginger and Smoked Salmon Mousse Verrine - Velveteers March 2010


The Velveteers band again. This month we decided to challenge ourselves with making savory Verrines.

A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack (source: Wikipedia).

Around the blogosphere, there have been many a verrine showcased but they were mostly of the sweet kind. And, so, we decided to go savory (I must say, that, was well received by Mr. FSK as well!). To push the envelope even more, each of us, Pam, Al, Aparna and I, chose one ingredient that must be used in our verrine. So we came up with - salmon, chocolate, cheese and squash; quite an eclectic combination, especially with the chocolate throwing one off the loop!

Verrine from top

I have long wanted to make verrines and have dreamed up quite a few flavor combinations, sweet and savory, that I have jotted down as drafts in my mailbox, my virtual notes diary. I had even bought glasses for them a couple of months back. But, this was the first I was actually executing. So, I was really thrilled and looking forward to it.

I was reasonably sure on how to use the squash, salmon and cheese but the chocolate was testing me quite a bit. Finally, I decided to use cocoa and pair it with zucchini (for the squash) because honestly, I could not think of anything to pair with that made sense with the rest of the ingredients.

Verrine 1

I had decided to make a Zucchini-Cocoa Mousse and Salmon Mousse. However, they did not quite seem to just go with each other on their own. I felt there needed to be a coordinating layer or sorts. When I tasted the zucchini-cocoa mousse, I felt like it needed a bit of kick. So, I went back to the drawing board.

I wanted something light so as to not overpower either the zucchini (which is quite delicate in flavor) or the salmon and yet connect them seamlessly. Citrus popped into my head as did ginger. Both, I think pair very well with zucchini and salmon individually and I figured that should work. So, became my middle layer of Lime and Ginger Mousse.

I made the zucchini and lime layers with whipped cream and used Cream Cheese to make the salmon mousse, lending it a richer texture. To top it off, I made a chilli-cocoa crusted zucchini chip.

Verrine 3

Verdict: The verrine was really good. The flavors came through individually and melded well together. The citrus kick was just enough to lighten the richness of the salmon mousse and brighten the zucchini. I think the chip was a bit overpoweringly bitter, probably because I used a lot of cocoa. Next time I think I'll sweeten it with some honey for a mellower flavor. All in all, Mr. FSK polished them off eagerly; So, I call it a success!

Zucchini-Cocoa, Lime-Ginger and Smoked Salmon Mousse Verrine
(serves 2)

Zucchini-Cocoa mousse:

1 zucchini, sliced; reserve some long strips for the chips
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp dried zucchini powder
1/2 cup whipping cream (you will use only half of it, reserve the other for the 2nd layer)
1/2 tsp of gelatin or agar-agar
1 T hot water
salt and lemon pepper per taste

Blanch the zucchini in hot water until translucent. Transfer immediately to ice cold water to retain the green color. Let it cool. Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in a tablespoon of hot water.

Puree the cooled zucchini with the gelatin water to a smooth texture. Fold in cocoa, dried zucchini powder and season with salt and pepper. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold in half of it to the zucchini mixture.

Divide the zucchini-cocoa mousse equally between two glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours to let it set.

Note: You can make zucchini powder by thinly slicing zucchini and letting it sit in an off oven overnight or until it has completely lost it's moisture content and then grinding it to a fine powder.

Lime-Ginger Mousse:

zest of half a lime
juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp gelatin
1 inch chunk of ginger, grated very fine
remaining half of whipped cream from above
salt to taste

Combine the zest, juice and ginger. Add the gelatin and heat the mixture until the gelatin dissolves. Season with salt. Fold in the whipped cream and layer over the zucchini mousse layer. Let set in the refrigerator for atleast 4 hours.

Smoked Salmon Mousse:

3 T smoked salmon of your choice + more for garnish
3 T cream cheese at room temperature
1 T heavy cream
1 T hot water
1/4 tsp gelatin
salt and pepper to taste

Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Whip all the ingredients together to make a smooth, creamy mixture. Pipe into the glasses over the lime mousse layer. Allow to set for atleast 4 hours.

Chilli-Cocoa Crusted Zucchini Chips
(this is the modified version based on my experience and what I think will work better)

2 zucchini slices, sliced lengthwise with skin on
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together the honey, cocoa, paprika and salt and rub the zucchini slices generously. Cover with wrap and let marinate for a few hours. Deep fry them to crisp and sprinkle with sea salt crystals.


Velveteers was started by Aparna, Asha, Alessio and Pam, who are passionate about different cuisines and food in general. Each month, we will attempt a new dish and share our experiences and the recipes we used. If you’re interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment.

Do, check out what the other Velveteers have created:

Alessio - http://recipetaster.blogspot.com/