Chicken Involtini aka Roulade/Galantine/Ballotine/Braciola with Basil & Nuts filling

Dear Daibi and Didi,

Hope you two are doing well. I too haven’t been able to write much lately as we attended an Indian wedding here..was awesome to see a traditional wedding in Australia where mostly all rituals were followed to the letter.  The wedding reception was very European with tables marked, set menus that were served by waiters, speeches from family and close friends and dancing to a live band!! I felt like a tourist there awestruck with everything coz I have seen such weddings only on TV!!  heheeeehe…Then there was Janmashtami.  We celebrated it with pooris, potato curry and 6 types of home-made mithais (sweets)…I also learned how to make narkol nadu (coconut laddoo) with packaged dry desiccated coconut from Niloy’s sister who lives in Melbourne too.  One has to soak it in milk enough to cover the whole amount for 2-3 hrs and then cook it with sugar/brown sugar/jaggery and some milk powder till it becomes sticky.  For the first time I also tried to make the Bengali malpua but instead of putting them in a sugar syrup, I added some sugar in the batter itself…while frying them, I realised how much oil they absorb…out of shock, I turned the malpua batter into pancakes 😛 they tasted the same…next time am thinking I would drop them in sugar syrup and see what happens!! What say??!

Anyways, what I wanted to talk about today was this dish called Chicken Involtini.

Chicken Involtini (with basil) and Polenta with Tomato Veggies

Chicken Involtini (with basil) and Polenta with Tomato Veggies

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Missing everyone….and making Quattro Formaggi Pizzas!

Dear Didi and Daibi,

Yesterday was Rakhi…was missing you all a lot..didn’t feel like doing any work either..its been soo many years that we three haven’t been together on Rakhi.  Didi, when you were in Delhi, you tied Rakhi to both of us….I guess I never told you this but I felt very proud for having this honor; and when I would go to school later, I flaunted it saying, ‘meri didi ney bandha hai Rakhi coz mai bhi didi ki raksha karungi (my sister tied me the rakhi coz I would also protect her like my brother would)’.  Those were such lovely days, Ma used to make Loochis (fried flat bread) and some lovely aloo sabji (potato curry) or choley (Chickpeas curry)..and ofcourse that heavenly paayesh (rice and thickened milk dessert) served with freshly made narkol nadu (coconut laddoo) or jethima’s famous malpuas (soft and flat flour sweets dipped in sugar syrup)!!!  And Daibi, do you remember, almost every time just before Rakhi we would end up having a deadly fight..and we both would bitterly say, ‘No Rakhi this time’…then on the Rakhi morning we would have peace talks mediated by Ma and Baba and then all would be fine (next time we meet, we should have one of those fights just for the kicks!!)……aaah those were the days….

Anyways, remembering that time, yesterday I made a four cheese pizza called “Quatro Formaggi” in Italian. I used your method of making a pizza-dough and topped it with mozzarella, parmesan, provolone and gorgonzola cheese.  I have read about many variations to this recipe where they have used ricotta and other types of Italian cheese.  But gorgonzola is very important for this pizza…which I doubt you would get in India..its a kind of blue cheese with a very heavy pungent smell and not everyone likes it.  So when you guys come here, I will make it for you 🙂

Quattro Formaggi Pizza

I also made calzones with the left-over dough and made a caramelised onion and lamb sausage stuffing for them.  Niloy got that for lunch today, so he is is happily benefiting from my ‘not-so-good’ days when I end up making something new and interesting!

Oh and I totally forgot to tell you guys…a few days back I made this upside down strawberry cake and choco-chip+candied orange peel muffins.  I lined up the baking tray with strawberry halves and poured the cake batter on it. Didi, I still follow your recipe of madly whipping up 1/2 cup oil+1/2 cup sugar+2 eggs together and adding 1 tsp baking powder+1 cup flour later.

Upside down Strawberry Cake and Chocochip & Candied Orange Peel Muffin

The cake turned out to be feather-soft and the juices from the strawberries made it melt in the mouth.  I have tried making a similar cake with apple quarters, peach halves, pineapple slices and grapes! Trust me they all turn out to be delicious!!! 😀 See talking about food already lifts my mood…now I will get back to work..

You both take care, sending loads of love and hoping that someday we three get together for Rakhi.

Write back soon,

Rinki

Shrimp and Salmon Bake with Asparagus – A Fishy Cassoulet!

Dear Daibi and Didi,

The three of us are known everywhere for being “avid fish lovers”..isn’t it? Just like other fellow Bengalis, the three of us drool at the mere mention of the word fish, right? Heheheee….our friends who read this would know for sure that am lying.  When it comes to fish, we are ‘Fraud Bengalis’ as the sight and smell of fish is enough for us to throw our hands up in the air and call for a hunger strike, saying, ‘Cholbe na cholbe na’ which in English means, it will not be tolerated (though that never worked with our parents as they would still stuff the large Rui or Katla fish pieces down our throats).  As a child I loved fish, Ma still tells me that I used to happily polish off a whole fish head back then…but I guess growing up with you two fish haters, I too switched over.  Then when I moved to Europe, I realised that genetically modified chicken tasted bad and it wasn’t the best way to complete my protein intake.  Being a student, limited my finances, hence I could’t afford the organic stuff either. This made me turn to fish and eggs (I hated both of them).  I began to eat cans of tuna or herrings or sardines and even smoked salmon, anchovies and caviar (a continental chef would sue me for saying this, but I would still say, by themselves these things STINK!!!!).  My all time high was when Baba, a true fish lover, could not eat raw fresh herring in Amsterdam whereas I ate it without any qualms! I even fell in love with the different forms of Sushi and finally came to the conclusion that ‘pheesh runs in my blaad too’ :).

Till now I have cooked with tuna and sardines (have even turned them into divine Indian curries and koftas), but never with salmon.  I am finally beginning to do so and Niloy, who is another fish lover, has complimented each of my experiments.  I must say that I got the general idea of this particular dish from the Masterchef Australia 4 series, and thought it was unique.  But then I read about Cassoulet – a traditional dish from south of France made with haricot beans and meat topped with crunchy bread cubes – and I knew where the influence came from 🙂  There are many ways of cooking this dish, but here is my version of a fishy cassoulet!

Shrimp and Salmon Bake with Asparagus

Ingredients: Serves 4

1 roughly chopped Onion

1 tsp of chopped Garlic

400 gms of Salmon steaks (or any other boneless fish)

1/2 cup cooked and peeled Shrimps

2 Carrots chopped in cubes

1/2 bulb of Fennel (you could use 1 tsp of Fennel Powder instead and add some other veggie)

15-20 green Asparagus sticks (you could replace with 1 Broccoli/French Beans for adding crunchy greens)

(optional) 1 Celery sticks, 5 inch leek piece, peas, corn

4-5 slices of stale White Bread

1 cup of White sauce (traditionally called roux) or 1/2 cup white sauce+1/2 cup sour-cream (for people concerned with health, thick sour yoghurt mixed with 1 tsp of white flour to stop it from getting curdled)

1/2 cup White Wine

1 Lime/Lemon

2 tbsp Olive Oil

A few sprigs of thyme and dill

Parmesan Cheese, Salt and Pepper to taste

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In a hot pan, sear the Salmon steaks til crispy brown on both sides.  Set aside.  In the same pan, to retain the fish oil and flavor, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and throw in the garlic and onion.  While the onions are getting cooked, cut the bread into cubes, place them in a baking tray, sprinkle some olive oil on them and roast for 12-15 mins till crispy – leave in the oven with the heat turned off.  Add the carrots, the fennel, some salt & pepper in the pan and saute till cooked.  Chop about 7-9 asparagus sticks into 1inch pieces and add in the pan with the other cooked veggies for 3-4 minutes or till nice and fresh green – transfer this into a baking dish.  Crumble the salmon steaks and put in the shrimps, white sauce, wine, herbs and lemon juice.   Mix and season well according to taste (you could add more lemon juice for a tangy flavor).  Coarsely crush the bread cubes and cover the fish mixture.  Finally sprinkle some Parmesan cheese (quantity as per liking) and bake in the oven at medium heat for 10-15 mins or till the crust turns brown.  In the meanwhile take a pan, add a tsp of olive oil and saute the rest of the asparagus or broccoli till crispy green. Season well and serve as a side dish with the bake.

Do make it some time and let me know how it tastes, coz Niloy and me loved it and finished it off in 12 mins flat 🙂

Take care, lots of love,

Rinki