Tickling your taste buds

Culinary delights

Gowtham Balasubramanian and Jean Michel at the demonstration.   Dh photo by Vasu M N

Shoppers and book browsers at Crossword were treated to an easy-to-make variety of recipes ably demonstrated by the two chefs from Toscano — Jean Michel and Gowtham Balasubramanian.

Since they could not use full-fledged kitchen equipment at the bookstore, like stoves and ovens, they kept the recipes simple yet interesting.

“An easy, yet delicious, Italian snack or appetiser is Bruschetta (pronounced "Brusketta"). It is a wonderful way to capture the flavours of ripe summer tomatoes, fresh garden basil, and garlic. It goes perfectly with a pre dinner drink,” explained Jean Michel, as he went on to demonstrate different ways of preparing the snack.

“In its basic form, it consists of grilled bread toasted, rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Variations may include toppings of spicy red pepper, tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat or cheese but the most popular recipe out of Italy involves basil, fresh tomato, garlic, onion or mozzarella,” he explained.

Taking French bread rolls that are sliced diagonally and then toasted, the duo went on to prepare the toppings that would top the bread bases. “You don’t have to limit yourself to tomato and basil. Get creative with ingredients you have in your kitchen. Mushrooms chopped and seasoned with salt, pepper and then sauteed, thin slices of grilled eggplant or an elegant arrangement of sliced figs, cheese and a leaf of lettuce will taste well,” added Gowtham.

Moving on to chilled soups like Gazpacho, which are refreshingly delicious in warm climates, they showed the crowd how to blend a well marinated mix of tomatoes, bread, olive oil, fresh herbs like oregano and basil. The result was a hearty soup with an interesting blend of tomato, herbs and a hint of orange to give it a citrus note.

The demonstration was rounded off with an expert blending of butter and chocolates to make walnut brownies that were crisp and delicious. “The trick lies in using the correct proportions of butter, chocolate, sugar and flour when mixing the ingredients without over cooking it or baking it. Brownies can be made in advance and stored up to three weeks in the fridge. One could warm them gently in a microwave for ten seconds and later served with a scoop of ice cream as a dessert,” said Jean Michel.

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