Wednesday, July 18, 2007

10 Things I like about summer

A Japanese friend of mine once asked me which season I like the most. It is not a difficult question to answer as most us have favorite seasons. I bet more than 50% love summers closely followed by fall. To me, it is a question of perplexity. Which one of the seasons of Kerala – summer, summer2, summer3, and monsoons to choose? So, I decided to make a list of pros and cons of summer. Here it is.

1. Plentiful sunshine. Days are longer than nights. That means we can spend more time playing and less time sleeping. As an adult, I might have to rephrase it as more time napping and less time sleeping at nights. Weekends ofcourse!

2. Mango, Papaya, Guava and Melons. The long list of glorious summer fruits – a perfect excuse for not having lunch. Check out my newest summer creation : Forget-me-not papaya panna cotta.

3. Summer road trips – I love road trips, a weakness of mine initiated by my father when we were kids. We have spent some interesting summers in the southern states of India!!

4. Backyard Barbecue – My husband, the ‘king of the barbecue’, insists that I should stay away from his grill. I like that idea as I get to lounge in my favorite chair with my buttermilk fizzie while he does the cooking. Role reversal I say.

5. A trip to ocean- Crystal Clear sky, blue ocean and sugary sand (and a crowded beach!), an idyllic spot to spend time with family.

6. Outdoor adventure – Recent years, my husband has been pushing us to introduce exercise into our lives, a healthy adventure. I love being with nature as I have spent most summers climbing trees in our neighbor’s backyards when I was a child. I don’t think those trees would hold me if I climb now!!!! Perhaps hiking that hill is not a bad idea.

7. Summer picnics – A perfect time to get connected with old friends, chat up new ones and a long table of food. It is even better if they bring everything! What not to love?

8. Vacations. Who doesn’t like vacations? Switch off the computer, close the complicated books and pack up your bags. Don’t forget to take sunscreen, cute sandals and gorgeous clothes.

9. Cool and Creamy Ice creams. Forget your waistline. Forget your diet. It is time to indulge in one of the best things of summer. Be generous!!

10. Blockbuster movies. Super powers, magic schools, and nasty robots, an excuse to forget world and think about future.

Looks like, I like summer more. What do you think?

Simplistically Yours,

Forget-Me-Not Papaya Panna Cotta

Being lived in Kerala for many years, my summers were overflowin with mangoes, more mangoes and melons. Although papaya was readily available and most often planted in the backyard , it is a forgotten fruit of summer. The mild taste of papaya with a touch of creaminess and a smooth texture is a perfect ingredient for my newly concocted recipe – A panna cotta wth papayas, honoring this wonderful fruit.

Panna cotta, cooked cream, is an Italian dessert made by simmering cream, milk and sugar. The gelatin is mixed into the mixture and cooled until they are set. Interestingly, the dessert is made without eggs. It is a smooth, fluffy and airy dessert with an exquisite texture, a perfect accompaniment to a spicy meal.

Shopping List
4 cups of cream
3/4 cup of water + 3 tbsp
¼ cup orange blossom honey
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp of gelatin (about 1 ½ sachets of gelatin powder)
1 cup of chopped ripened papaya

What to do
In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp of water and gelatin and let it stand for about 5-10 minutes.

Cook papaya with 3/4 cup of water in a medium sauce pan. Once cooked, mash it with a spoon.

Blend the papaya mixture with honey and ½ cup of cream to a nice and smooth texture.

Heat a pan with 3 ½ cups of cream and sugar to a simmer in medium heat. Turn off the heat and mix in the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. Stir in the papaya blend to a smooth mixture. Pour the mixture to ramekins or any mould of your choice. Chill uncovered for a minimum of 4 hrs.

Once they are set, dip the moulds in a hot water for few minutes. Sometimes, you can run a knife through the edges of the mould. Turn the mould into a plate.

Serve with fruit puree of any kind. I like it as it is. Enjoy!

Recipe source: Adapted from Gale Gand’s Vanilla Panna cotta.
Recipe Note: Try the same without papaya and you get a vanilla custard.

ButterMilk Fizzie (Moru Sambharam)

Shopping List
1 cup of Butttermilk
2 green chillies
4-5 curry leaves
1 shallot
¼ inch ginger chopped
½ tbsp of lemon juice
4-5 sliced berries/grapes
Seltzer water
Sea Salt to taste

What to do:
In a food processor puree buttermilk, chillies, shallots, curry leaves and ginger. Strain the puree through a sieve;discard solids. To this add lemon juice and salt. Pour ½ of the mixture into tall glasses and add seltzer water. Slide in sliced grapes for a sweet taste.

Perfectly good on a hot summer day!.

Recipe Source: Family

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