When cooking is a hands-on reality

Down foodpath

Becoming a chef was not my initial decision. I dabbled in a few other careers and was in fact afraid to pursue cooking; eventually, however, I started cooking for friends, which then led to cooking for few others and I finally pursued it as a career. So it happened very organically and I feel very lucky about it.

I graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management in Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Gwalior in 2001 and joined Grand Hyatt. Subsequently, I moved to Jaypee Vasant Continental and then The Grand, New Delhi. Over the years, I have specialised in international cuisine which is very focused on styling and presentation on the plate. That is essential considering today our clients are well-travelled and have a vast knowledge of cuisines from around the world. From different types of cheese to wines available, to the cuts of meat and exotic dishes from different regions — they know it all. A chef has to
make sure that his menu is authentic and appealing to discerning patrons.

For me, cooking is hands-on reality and is not abstract. Food must unite people. Food is not just a means of nutrition or of suppressing hunger. It’s a means of enjoying our time together. At the most important occasions in our lives, we are seated at a table for a meal. So food is also something sacred.

I have created and worked upon many dishes which has been my signature dishes, but  Mushroom Crepe is my signature dish currently on our menu  at 7Degrees Brauhaus, South Point Mall, Sector 53 , Golf Course Road, Gurgaon. This dish, prepared with the following ingredients, makes six crepes which are mild in taste and are currently in heavy demand.

Recipe

Mushroom and Spinach Crepes

Ingredients:

 Wheat flour:     1/2 cup
 All-purpose flour:1/2 cup
 Salt:     1/24 tspn Eggs:     3 large
 Low-fat milk:     1/2 cup
 Melted butter:     2tsp
 Extra-virgin olive oil:1 tsp
 Sliced mixed mushrooms:
                                     (3 3/4 cups)
 Thinly sliced shallots:
    2/3 cup
 Chopped fresh rosemary,
      plus more for garnish:         1 tsp
 Salt:     1/4 tsp
 Baby spinach:       5 ounces
 Water:     1/2 cup
 Crumbled feta cheese:
    6 tsp
 
Method:

 Process refind flour, corn         flour, salt, eggs, milk and         oil (or butter) in a blender         or food processor until         smooth, scraping the         sides once or twice. Trans        fer to a bowl, cover and re        frigerate for at least 30         minutes or overnight.
 Heat oil in a large non-        stick skillet over medium         heat. Add mushrooms,         shallots, rosemary and         salt. Cook for about six            minutes and stir until the         mushrooms are soft. Put a     handful of baby spinach at     a time and cook for about         four minutes until wilted.         Cover it to keep warm.
 Slowly whisk seltzer into         the batter. Coat a large         non-stick skillet with         cooking spray; heat over         medium-high heat. Ladle         1/3 cup batter into the
    center of the pan; immedi        ately tilt and rotate the         pan to spread evenly over         the bottom.
 Cook until the underside         is lightly browned, about         30 seconds to one minute.     Using a heatproof silicon         or rubber spatula, lift the         edge, then quickly
    grasp the crepe with your         fingers and flip. Cook until     the second side is lightly         browned, about 20 sec        onds. Slide onto a plate.
n Repeat with the remain        ing batter, spraying the         pan as needed and stack        ing crepes as you go. If the     pan begins to smoke, re        duce the heat to medium.         Cover crepes with a clean         kitchen towel or keep         warm in a 200 degree         Fahrenheit oven.
 To assemble, place a
    crepe on a clean cutting         board. Spread a generous         1/3 cup of the mushroom         filling in the center,
    leaving a one to two inch         border. Top with 1 table        spoon chedder cheese.         Fold in the sides to         make a square shape,         leaving a “window” in the         center. Press down on the         corners, as necessary,
    to help keep the crepe
    folded. Repeat with the
    remaining crepes
    and filling.
 Garnish with rose            mary, if desired.


Siddharth Vasudev
As told to Jayashree Narayanan

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