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HindustanTimes Thu,27 Nov 2014
How to unwind in your kitchen
Mignonne Dsouza, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, May 31, 2013
First Published: 16:25 IST(31/5/2013)
Last Updated: 18:25 IST(1/6/2013)
Kitchen garden

Here are some suggestions to help you become a pro in the kitchen. Mixing drinks or learn the expertise.

Don’t watch a sitcom.

Make a no-bake Cake
Ingredients
For the biscuit mixture: 200gm digestive biscuits; 80gm softened (not melted) butter; 40gm Bournvita.
For the cake mixture: 125gm unsalted butter; 200gm dark chocolate; 25gm cocoa butter; 400ml condensed milk; 160gm biscuit mixture
Method
For the biscuit layer: Crush digestive biscuits, add softened butter, and mix till you get a crumbly texture. Do not over mix or it will turn into a paste. Sprinkle Bournvita into mixture and mix it into the crumbled biscuits. Spread on a tray and set aside.
For the cake: Melt the unsalted butter, cocoa butter and dark chocolate. Mix well. Bring to room temperature then, add the condensed milk, which should also be at room temperature.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/6/Mocktails.jpg
Fold in only 160 gms of the biscuit malt mixture into the cake.
Take any kind of mould you like
(I use a silicon mould for flexibility), pour in half of the cake mixture and spread the leftover biscuit malt mixture onto the cake mixture. Make sure that the biscuit layer is not spread to the sides of the mould as we want the centre layer to show only once the cake is cut. Pour the other half of the cake mixture onto the biscuit layer and freeze the cake for a minimum of three hours or preferably overnight. The next day, use a knife dipped in hot water to loosen the sides of the cake, unmould, and decorate with malt balls or chocolate biscuits. You can even decorate the cake with marshmallows. Eat chilled.
(Kainaz Messman,  owner, Theobroma Bakery)

Don’t watch a drama.

Mix Drinks like a PRO
Desi Bloody Mary
Ingredients:
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, deseeded; 1/2 green chilli; 1/2 tsp vinegar; 60ml vodka; 1/2 tsp sugar
Method: Put all the ingredients, except vodka, in a jar and blend. Pour the mix into a tumbler glass. Top up with vodka and garnish with a slit chilli.

Mojito
Ingredients: 60ml light rum; 8 mint leaves; 4-5 pieces of lime; 1 tsp sugar; soda; ice cubes.
Method: In a tumbler glass, muddle mint leaves, lime and sugar together. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add the rum. Top up with soda. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Lime-Lime Tiney
Ingredients: 60ml vodka; 4-5 chunks of sweet lime, deseeded; 30ml sweet lime juice; 15ml lime juice
Method: In a tumbler glass, muddle chunks of sweet lime with the sweet lime juice. Pour in the other ingredients, along with ice, and double strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a sweet lime circle.

Blancho Sangriahttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/6/BloodyMary.jpg
Ingredients: 120ml white wine; chunks of apples and pomegranate, cut into small pieces; lemonade; 1 cinnamon stick
Method: Put all fruits in a tumbler glass with the wine and cinnamon stick. Stir well and set aside for 5 minutes. Add ice and top with lemonade. Stir once again, and serve in a wine glass with a few cubes of ice.

Watermelon Cooler
Ingredients:
7-8 watermelon chunks; lime juice; lemonade; ice
Method: In a long glass, muddle watermelon pieces, add lime juice and ice. Top up with lemonade. Garnish with watermelon chunks.

A&G Mocktail
Ingredients: 6-7 chunks of apple, minus the skin; 2 small pieces of ginger, finely chopped; Appy Fizz; ice
Method: In a long glass, muddle apple chunks and add ginger. Strain, then add Appy Fizz and a few apple chunks. Garnish with one round apple slice.
– Ankit Negandhi, owner, Barwings Hospitality

Infuse your alcohol
Always loved the idea of flavoured vodkas? You can make your own DIY versions for the white spirit, and do the same for rum and whisky too.
Vodka: Try a mix of dry coconut and mint to add a Caribbean flavour.
Rum: Infuse with cloves to get a nice spicy aroma.
Whisky: Cut a cigar at both ends and drop it in the bottle. This will infuse the whisky with a smoky flavour.

Don’t watch a Hollywood film.

Entertain Five-star style
For a romantic meal:
Choose placemats over a linen tablecloth in a colour that is your partner’s favourite.
Place candles on the table. They are simple, yet extremely romantic.
Don’t shy from throwing some fresh red rose petals on the table.
Switch on the AC well in advance. 
Set the table with candles, glasses and placemats in straight lines to ensure alignment. These small details make a difference to the overall appearance of the table.
Fold table napkins in an elaborate shape like the Rosebud, Candle, Bird of Paradise, Pocket Fold or Fan folds (see main pic). You’ll find other tutorials online.
Play the music your partner loves to set the mood.
Cook two courses, order dessert from outside. Making dessert is too technical; you want to get it right.
Don’t experiment too much. Cook what your partner likes. Print the menu and customise the names of dishes after places you’ve visited together and where you’ve shared some good memories.
– Information courtesy Manuj Ralhan, assistant director of food & beverage, Shangri-La, Mumbai

Sons of the soil
The soil is your plant’s supermarket; this is where they shop for nutrients. Add compost to the soil to help your plants grow better and faster. A good combination is 50 per cent organic compost and 50 per cent soil.

Grow your own pots too
Upcycle old sacks into plant pots. They are lighter on your windows and can be unrolled as your plant starts to grow. Their porous nature also helps the soil breathe better.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/6/SpinachPlants.jpg

Growing Spinach
Soak spinach seeds overnight. Take a 6” deep tray filled with soil and place each seed 4” apart. Keep the tray away from sunlight for 4 days, while watering the soil regularly. Once the seeds germinate, the spinach plants will need at least 5 hours of sunlight every day. After 5 weeks, it’s time to harvest your crop. Each seed should give you 4-5 harvests.

Don’t watch a Bollywood film.

Start your own Kitchen Garden
The only thing you need to start your own kitchen garden is sunlight. Here’s a quick reference for just how much you need:
More than 6 hours of direct sunlight
You can grow: tomatoes, brinjals, chillies and even melons. 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight Leafy vegetables don’t need too much sunlight, so get ready to grow spinach, mint, beetroot, cabbage and other root crops. Fewer than than 4 hours of sunlight is is enough to grow herbs like basil, coriander and more.

From HT Brunch, June 2
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