Monday, 29 October 2012

Afternoon tea with Champagne at the Corus Hyde Park

Some time around last week we turned 7 (OK fine, I don't know the exact date, but that's besides the point really). Yes! 7 years since we met each other in a small cafe in Chennai. Me, never wanting to get married, He, enthusiastic about getting married. Poles apart on a lot of things, but on the same page for a few other. Yet! we somehow have managed to make it this far. Its been a rough 7 years with me Ro would say, but I would shrug and say that's marriage. I think Ro's good husband material :)

After so long, we don't even bother wishing each other remembering 'petty' occasions like this. Although, the die hard romantic in me, sometimes do wish it wasn't so. I had been wanting to do an Afternoon Tea session for a long time and when an opportunity came up, I grabbed it thinking we will have a nice afternoon out together. But Ro of course had better things to do than spend an afternoon having 'tea' with me, and so had to change plans. Determined to not dampen my spirits, I grabbed a good ol' girlfriend of mine and headed out into Central London for a fun afternoon out. And boy, am I glad I did, because believe it or not, a day out with a girl friend can sometimes prove to be so much more therapeutic than a romantic afternoon out with the husband :)
Afternoon Tea is such a big deal here its not funny. Some hotels like The Ritz and Inter Continental are soooo known for their Afternoon Tea deals, you have to book a table waaay in advance. Although that was the kind of afternoon tea I had in mind, this deal was good enough for me, and its Groupon that I have to thank for this fabulous offer. From hair cuts to restaurant deals to cooking classes to mini breaks I have done it all. In the initial days after signing up, it used to be a struggle to not pick up the amazing voucher deals.  Now I have a grip on myself and although I scout the website frequently, its only when I absolutely need something do I pick it up. The Afternoon Tea with Champagne for two was too good a deal to pass and I am glad I picked it, because it was so worth it.
Corus Hyde Park is located bang opposite the park (as the name suggests) and is a 3 min walk from Lancaster Gate tube station. We headed straight to Olio's Brasserie, just off the reception area, and waited a good 5 minutes for someone to come greet us (not a good start, if you ask me). So I asked at the reception and was politely told someone would be with me soon. No luck again but then I spotted a stewardess at the counter and she guided us to our table. When we were kept waiting, I thought we would be placed somewhere near the stairs or something, but was pleasantly surprised to be seated right next to the huge windows, with good views of the autumn colours of Hyde park (not to mention enough lighting for my pictures, although it was such a gloomy and rainy afternoon, they haven't turned out that great).
photography post1
We were dutifully given our menu's and asked to pick the tea of choice. There were quite a few interesting options- from the traditional blends like Winchester Breakfast, Darjeeling and Earl Grey to the more contemporary ones like Rooibos orange and eucalyptus, Milk oolong and if that's not fancy enough for you, then try the Lavender hibiscus, a Blooming Tea, which literally does the same in your tea cup. We were not too adventurous with this and so settled for the Winchester breakfast and Classic Chai. Both were brought to the table promptly and we enjoyed the steaming cups of tea while it was pouring cats and gods outside. Oh and we also had to figure out how to handle the two flutes of Baron de Marc Gobillard, Brut Champagne in between sips of tea. Needless to say, the Champagne was happily welcomed, and the tea left to go cold in the tea pots.
Then came the exciting bit, the array of tarts, cakes, scones and sandwiches. Arranged in traditional 3-tiered plates, they were a pretty sight. Taste-wise, however, we were a tad bit disappointed. The cupcakes were too dry and the brownie (I think it was a brownie) was anything but moist. The carrot cake was good, but it was not with cream cheese, but more like butter cream. The tartlets were teeny tiny pastry cups filled with something like butter cream with a blackberry perched on one and a raspberry on another. I don't think they can technically be called fruit tarts, but they were pretty cute and we liked it. That said, the scones were to die for and we smothered ours with clotted cream and jam and had a blast getting some extra calories into our bodies. The sandwiches were also pretty good, with the cucumber and cream cheese being my favourite and the ham and cheese a close second. The macarons also did their job of being all good looking with the perfect feet and stuff and the flavours- orange and coffee- were not disappointing either. 
Our tea session stretched on for about 2 hours, because you just cannot stuff everything into your mouth at one go (and also because we weren't shooed out of the restaurant) and its something you really need to enjoy at a slow pace. So the next time you are in London, or anywhere in UK, make sure you treat yourself to a good English Afternoon Tea session. Also, don't forget to check out Groupon for some good deals in your area and trust me, its a decision you wont regret.

Thanks to Groupon for a gift voucher with which I picked up this deal.

Friday, 26 October 2012

The Saucy Fish Co. review and an Avocado salad to go with it

I have for you today two items that I was never fond of. After a looong gap, I gave them one more opportunity to please me, and what do you know, seems like I quite enjoy them. Shocked at this, and pleasantly surprised at how much my tastes have changed, I am embracing this new found love for Avocado's and Salmon...yes, two completely different food genres...with all my heart.

Fish has never been my favourite, and I can very strongly say, it never will be too. But of late, I have started experimenting with it at home (much to Ro's delight) and I can proudly say I eat a few varieties of it, if made the way I like with absolutely no taste of fish coming through (much to Ro's despair). So when I was asked to review a Saucy Fish Co product, I was a bit apprehensive as to how it would be, considering that they all came with their respective sauces and I didn't need to do any jazzing up of my own.
I checked out their website and was amazed at the huge variety of options available- 22 to be precise, yes 22 different types of fish products ranging from fresh fish and sauce pairings to foil bake bag fish dishes to fish cakes and standalone sauces. The fish cakes looked soooo delish on their website, I had to pick it up, and so were the sauces, perfect for some home made fish pie. So off I went to the local store only to be disappointed. The shelves were empty. This happened to me twice, which obviously means there is high demand for the product in the market (or the store does a rubbish job of stocking enough of it). I somehow HAD to get my hands on it desperately, now that my patience was running.
Third time, I was lucky, but not lucky enough to get the products I wanted and so had to make do with what was available. I picked up a pack of the salmon fillet with watercress and crème fraiche dressing and the salmon fillet with a chilli, lime and ginger sauce. The salmon fillets we Ro dutifully pan fried to perfection and I must say, it truly was a sight to see the colour changing and the skin getting all crispy. Even I got excited seeing it, and Ro was literally drooling. The sauce came in small sachets and just needed to be immersed in a mug of hot water for a while and was ready to be poured on top or had on the side, whichever way you prefer.
Taste-wise, both of us preferred the one with the chilli, lime and ginger sauce, which we were a bit apprehensive about in the beginning, but was pleasantly surprised at how the slightly sweet-tasting sauce paired perfectly well with the salmon. The water cress and crème fraiche dressing, after we jazzed up with some salt, was pretty good, but the first one was definitely our fav. I actually had quite a bit of it, much to my Ro's surprise. I do hope I get to try some more of their products (hopefully they would do a better job with stock) and considering how easy it is to whip up a tasty meal in minutes, I would definitely consider buying Saucy products again.

The salmon and sauce makes for a full meal if you have a salad or some roast potatoes or so on the side. We had it with this simple avocado salad, which again was a true eye opener. Thanks to my sis-in-law for passing on this easy peacy recipe, we now like avocado. Even my fussy brother who hates anything green, loved this. So you have to trust me on how good it tasted. I

Avocado salad
Avocados- 2 large, flesh cooped out
Small onions- 2 to 3, finely chopped
Green chilli- 1, finely chopped
Ginger- 1/2 inch, peeled and finely chopped
Coriander leaves- 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Sugar- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Lime juice- a generous dash/ squeeze
Coconut oil- 1 tsp
Place the avocado flesh in a large bowl and break it up. Mash it with a fork, but not to mashed potato consistency. There should still be small chunks left.
Tip in the onions, chilli, ginger and coriander leaves into the bowl and mix well with the avocados.
Add the salt, sugar and lime juice and give it a toss. Do a taste check to see if its all good.
Finally, drizzle the coconut oil over the salad, give a final mix and serve with a garnish of some coriander leaves.
You can add any oil of choice, but coconut oil gives it that distinct taste. Ro said he would prefer olive oil, but I loved it this way. 

With thanks to The Saucy Fish Co. for the vouchers to pick up the product from the store.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Banana-passion fruit meringue tarts

'Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm a passion fruit addict' would be my opening line at an AA equivalent meeting, but for food addicts.
If I'm not mistaken, I went through a bout of passion fruit love sometime last year as well. Yes, just after summer is over and the fruit is fading from the market, but is ridiculously expensive. I thought I was over that whole passion fruit obsession, and that's when a couple of us food bloggers (Suchi, Nupur, Sonal, Nayna and Jagruti) ended up going to the Cake & Bake Show last month and had a passion fruit and banana tart made (right in front of us) by none other than Edd Kimber, the Great British Bake Off winner, 2010. It was so good, I couldn't get it out of my mind. I HAD TO MAKE IT!

So I came back home, did a thorough check of where I could get passion fruit purée and was truly disappointed. None of the local stores sold it and my only option was to pick it up online...and I would have if it wasn't so bloody expensive and came in large quantities. So the ordeal was soon forgotten until I dropped into Ottolenghi one day and had the infamous passion fruit meringue tartlets. Ok new idea brewed and I HAD TO MAKE IT. So chucked the whole plan of purée, instead decided to improvise using passion fruit juice and some pulp. The outcome was brilliant and I finally made the tartlets. 
I always stayed away from lemon curd and lemon/ lime based desserts because I was not a fan of the tangy stuff (in desserts, I mean). With the fear of passion fruit curd being something like that, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it tasted, albeit the slight tanginess which was clearly balanced by the sweetness of the curd. Its heavenly to dab it on a piece of warm toast or, if you cant wait, spoon it right out of the sauce pan and eat while still warm. Somehow, the banana and passion fruit come together, and is a match worth exploring again in the future. If there was one fault. id say it was a bit too much on the sweeter side when it all comes together. Reduce the sugar in the meringue and curd and you should be fine.

Basically I have Edd Kimber to thank for this brilliant idea. The recipe, he said, would be in his new book, but obviously I had other plans....Google. I made the curd a day ahead, since everything together might have been hectic. Also, the lighting was bad on that day and I didn't want to take a chance and make the tarts only to be disappointed by lighting. Not that lighting was any better the day I actually made the tarts, but I had no patience to wait further. The entire process may look torturous, but if you spread it across 2 days, its really no hassle. So here you go, the recipe for a delightful tea time tart.
Banana-passion fruit meringue tarts (makes 6 tartlets)
Short crust pastry- 1 sheet (recipe below)
passion fruit curd- a little over 1/2 cup (recipe below)
Caramelised bananas- 1/2 cup
Meringue- around 2 cups

Short crust pastry
Plain flour- 200 gms
Baking powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Sugar- 1 tbsp (optional)
Cold butter- 100 gms, cut into cubes
Cold water- 3 to 4 tbsp/ as required
Mix together the flour, baking powder salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Add the cubes of butter and rub it into the flour, using your hands. It should resemble coarse bread crumbs.
Add the cold water bit by bit till it all comes together and you get a soft pliable dough.
Cling wrap it and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
(I used ready made all-butter short crust pastry shells, but have tried making pastry with the above recipe and it works fine. Have also tried with ready rolled pastry and its even easier)
Meanwhile, butter your tart tins and pre heat oven to 180C.
When ready to use, roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface and cut into rounds to fit your tart tin. You can also butter a muffin tin and use that instead of the tart tin, in which case you would get around 10 to 12 mini tarts.
Blind bake the tart shells for about 20 minutes or till golden brown. I didn't have any baking beans so I placed pieces of baking paper on top of the shells and filled them with enough rice. I kinda messed up here because in spite of filling them to the brim, the tarts still rose a bit in the middle. So use beads if possible.
When done, place on rack to cool completely.

Passion fruit curd (recipe adapted from here)
Passion fruit- 3, scoop out the flesh but discard the seeds (or eat them)
Passion fruit juice- approx. 1/4 cup
(The passion fruit you have may not be fleshy, in which case mix together the flesh and juice to make 125ml of pulp or just use 125ml of passion fruit juice alone but reduce sugar)
Eggs- 2, well beaten
Caster sugar- 80gms
Butter- 60gms, unsalted

Mix together the pulp, juice, caster sugar and butter in a saucepan placed over medium heat.
Stir till the sugar melts and the mixture comes to a boil.
Remove from heat and keep aside for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Gently pour in the beaten eggs, whisking continuously, or you will end up with curdled eggs.
Place the sauce pan back on low heat and keep whisking till the mixture becomes thick and smooth.
Pour into sterilised jars/ air tight container and keep refrigerated. The curd becomes a bit more thicker once it cools.
PicMonkey Collage 
Caramelised bananas
Banana- 1 large ripe one, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
Brown sugar- 1 tbsp
Butter- 1/2 tbsp + enough to grease the tins 

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan. It should be all dark and bubbly.
Throw in the sliced bananas and toss around to coat it well, taking care to not break them up.
Remove from heat and keep aside to cool slightly.

Egg whites- 125ml (or half cup)
Sugar- 150gms
vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp

Whisk the egg whites in a free standing mixer (with balloon whisk attachment), on medium speed, till it doubles in volume.
Add the extract.
Increase speed to high and slowly add the sugar.
Continue whisking till you get stiff, glossy peaks.
Be careful to not over whisk and make it too dry.
Fill a piping bag (with round tip nozzle preferably) with the meringue and keep ready.
The above mentioned measure make a large batch. I made meringue cookies with the remaining. Feel free to halve and also reduce sugar as per choice.
Place the tart shells on a baking tray and layer the bottom with the caramelised bananas...say around 4 to 5 slices per tart (of course adjust it according to your tart shell size)
Pour around 2 to 3 tsp of passion fruit curd over the bananas, say till about 3/4th full of the shell.
Pipe the meringue on top of the curd in whichever design you like, but make sure the tips are not too pointed or else you might end up with burnt tips. (You can also just slather with a spoon and swirl designs)
Place in an oven pre heated at 180C and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or till the meringues are cooked through and brown in colour.
If you have a blow torch then omit this step and just brown them.
Next time I would place it under the broiler. I was too much of a chicken to do so this time.
Keep the tarts to cool for a while and then dig in.
You can also refrigerate it till further use.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Sponsored video: Black & Decker steam mop

Black & Decker is a brand known to most of us. In fact my first kitchen gadget was a B&D chopper my mom handed down to me after we moved into our first home as a newly married couple. The fact that I never used it much (thanks to the awesomest cook we had who preferred to chop, slice, blend the traditional way) is not to be highlighted though.

The latest addition to their home products range is the Steam Mop, a swanky looking gadget that you would want the moment you lay your eyes on it. I am not a big fan of vacuuming the house but when it comes to mopping, I actually don't have a problem. I don't find it therapeutic, but it does give a sense of achievement to see those wooden floors of mine gleaming.

Its for people like me, that the steam mop comes as a saving grace. The mop boasts killing 99.9% of germs and bacteria and is natural in its cleaning process, which means it needs only tap water to do the job, not to mention the fact that it is both family and eco- friendly. All you need to do is fill up its tank with water, plug in and go. The super heated steam kills any germs or bacteria on your floor and also loosens dirt and grease in seconds. The mop is convenient to use, with the 'Auto Select' technology ensuring the right amount of steam released, of course depending on the floor type selected (hardwood, laminate, marble, tiles etc.). The 500ml easy-fill water tank provides 22 to 40 minutes of cleaning time and is perfect for all those of you who want sparkling clean floors without the hassle of a cloth mop and bucket of water.

Go on, put it on your wish list for Christmas. I know I want one for sure. If the husband is reading this...hint hint!

To get a better idea of how the Steam Mop works, check out this video.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Ribbon sandwiches

I know that picnics and days out in the open are long gone, but I couldn't resist posting these delicious ribbon sandwiches before it was ridiculously late. The temperatures have dropped significantly and its no fun waking up in the morning to a cold apartment. The moment you are out from under your duvet you shiver and wish to crawl back in. We have finally taken out our winter clothes much to my dismay and Ro is already psyching me out saying winter is gonna be horrible. After 3 years of running back to India for Christmas, this year we are staying put. But that's about 70 days away and I have enough time to whine about it ;)

Coming to the sandwiches. These, when my mum used to make way back when we were kids, were not received with much enthusiasm. In fact I hated the coconut chutney more than anything. Fast forward to some 20 years later and I think I love it. I called up mum a couple of weeks back to get the recipe and she laughed so much at the irony. Also because, Ro is not a big fan of coriander leaves or any leaf for that matter and while my mum kept mentioning coriander leaves I kept referring to it as that thing, because Ro was sitting right next to me listening in on the conversation. He finally found out that a major chunk of the sandwich was made using coriander chutney and begged and pleaded to not do so. If its one thing I've learnt after 6 years of being married, its to ignore the other half when you see signs of the drama queen surfacing. And that's exactly what I did.
I also have to bring to your notice this uber cool gadget the lovely people over at The Handipcked Collection sent me. Its a Herb Saver Fridge Pod that keeps herb cuttings fresh and watered inside your fridge, thereby prolonging their live for a longer period. I can very happily say, 'it works.' The coriander leaves I used for this recipe were fresh even after about 2.5 weeks, except for a few leaves turning yellow here and there. I have had trouble trying to make them last in my fridge and they always end up rotting on me. If there was one downside to the product it would be that the plastic see through cover is a bit tough to handle. Its not something that just comes open with a quick pull and is a bit of a struggle. Other than that its quite a handy thing to have. It snugly fits on my fridge door and apparently can be used for vegetables like asparagus and stuff. Don't forget to check out The Handpicked collection for some great Gift ideas. I'm definitely a big fan.
Anyhoo, once the sandwiches were done, Ro completely forgot about his coriander leaf aversion and all was good with the world. I made the two chtneys over 2 days and then on the 3rd assembled the sandwiches. If you do everything together at one go, I doubt you would ever want to make it again. So spread it out and its much easier. Will I make this again...hmm maybe when I'm in one of those proactive cooking moods. This sandwich is great for picnics and for an English Tea where finger sandwiches are a must. Its also very lah-di-dah :)

(Makes around 20 quarter sandwiches)
Bread- 15 slices (brown or white)
Coriander chutney- approx. 1 cup (recipe follows)
Tomato chutney- approx. 1 cup (recipe follows)
Butter- 1/4 cup (at room temperature)

Coriander chutney
Coriander leaves- 2 cups, washed and roughly chopped
Grated coconut- 1 cup
Mint leaves- 10 to 12
Tamarind paste- 1 tsp (approx.)
Green chillies- 2 (adjust according to preference)
Salt- to taste
Sugar- 1/2 tsp

Grind together all the ingredients in a food processor/ blender, scraping down the sides at intervals, until you get a smooth-ish paste.
Resist the urge to add water though!
Transfer into an air tight container and refrigerate till ready to use.

Tomato chutney
I followed this recipe of mine, except I didn't roast the tomatoes, just sliced them and used as it is. Feel free to roast them if you prefer it that way. I also used vegetable oil instead of olive oil and added curry leaves along with the mustard seeds. Once the chutney is done, keep aside to cool and then store in an air tight container till ready to use. It stays for about a week in the fridge.

Bring both the chutneys to room temperature.
Into the coriander chutney add the soft butter and mix it well. No traces of butter should be seen.
Do a taste test, add salt if required, and keep ready.
Onto the first slice of bread evenly spread about 1 tbsp of coriander chutney.
Top with another slice and spread the same amount of tomato chutney on it.
Finally top with a third slice and gently press it down to settle the fillings in.
Slice into half diagonally and then into quarters, or if you prefer, slice into smaller squares.
Serve for tea or at a picnic. It would be a hit trust me.

Notes: You can spread butter on the bread slices as well, but I didn't bother to.
I left the edges in tack as well, because Ro is a sucker for stuff like that. Feel free to slice them off if you think its too hard or something.
My mum sometimes does 3 layers with the third one being an egg mayo sandwich. Our cheap thrill when we were young was that it was made to look like our Indian flag :)
Store leftover sandwiches in an air tight container, slightly warm it in the oven for about 10 mins and have it the next day. that would make it slightly crisp as well.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

One bowl passion fruit-yogurt cupcakes

I made macarons a couple of days back. Well..tried to make would be more apt. I started with major enthusiasm but by the time I was done with sifting the damn ground almonds twice, all I could think of was a nice glass of wine and a movie. I somehow wanted to get it over and done with, which resulted in macs with feet, oh yes, but crinkled tops and weirdly shaped ones. While the macs were set aside to rest for an hour, Ro came by the kitchen and he even had the audacity to say 'looks like rats pissed in small pools.' Thank you very much, you shall sleep on the couch today, was my reply! Anyhoo, the macarons were a disaster and they are still on my table, waiting to go into the bin, but I'm waiting, for what? I don't know. I should just go chuck it right this minute. 

So after my macaron disaster I was a bit bummed because the sun was out shining and it was perfect for photography. I had major plans with the macs and was a lil disappointed. And then, I decided to browse (my own blog that is, how vain right?) and I came upon my all time favourite recipe..the French Yoghurt Cake. Of course, I shall just make these to prove that some things do come out nice, was my first thought. So I went and did one quick check to see if I had all the ingredients. Other than 1 egg, I had everything else. And then my second thought, why not improvise? Something I'm not very comfortable doing, especially with cakes, but what the hell...if it was a day of disasters, then I shall add fuel to fire. 
So I got hold of some passion fruit lying around (begging to be used) and decided to make a cake. In between all this I convinced (begged) Ro to go out to the store and buy me eggs. The fact that he came back with a whole grocery bag full of rubbish is another story, but hey I got my eggs, I shall not complain. 

These lil darlings are so so so so so good, you will finish it all up in one go. They are also so easy to put beating things separately, put it all into one bowl and there, you have the batter. You don't even need a beater. The recipe has never failed me and now that I know it can be improvised, its a winner. They are the softest, moistest cupcakes I have ever had and its because of this same reason that I use them as the base for all my upside down cakes. No fail recipe peeps, no fail. Even for amateur bakers, this is a brainless one, so do try it and tell me how it was. Here's the recipe.

Makes 7 to 8 medium size cupcakes or 1, 9inch cake
Granulated sugar- 1/2 cup
Eggs- 2 small
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Plain yoghurt- 1/4 cup (I used Total Greek Yoghurt)
Passion fruit pulp/juice- 2 1/2 tbsp * (from 3 small passion fruit)
Plain flour- 1/2 cup
Baking powder- 1 tsp
Salt- a pinch
Flavourless oil- 1/4 cup
Into a mixing bowl whisk together (using a wire whisk, or even a wooden ladle) the first five ingredients till pale and well mixed.
Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt and continue to whisk, making sure no traces of flour is visible.
Add the oil and fold it all together to get a smooth, slightly loose batter.
Arrange the cupcake liners into the tray and fill each cup with the batter, till about 3/4th full.
Place the cupcake tin on a tray and bake in an oven pre-heated at 175C for about 20 to 22 minutes. I accidentally keep it for about 3 minutes longer and the tops began to brown. You know your oven best, so bake accordingly.
Do the skewer test and if it comes out clean, take the tin out of the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes after which you can carefully remove the cupcakes from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve along with tea and biscuits or store in an air tight container at room temperature for about 2 to 3 
Notes: Feel free to experiment with any type of fruit juice. Replace passion fruit with orange juice, lemon juice (maybe a little less than the mentioned amount), or even honey to get a different flavour.
Also add some lemon/ orange zest to the batter.
If you cant find fresh passion fruit, you can use passion fruit juice instead. May be a bit on the sweeter side, so adjust sugar accordingly. 
*Scoop out the flesh from the fruit and run it through a sieve to get the juice.
The seeds and pulp taste yum, so don't throw it off. You can eat it all up (like I did) or mix with some confectioners sugar to do a glaze and pour over the cupcakes.

PS: On a different note... in case you are wondering what all this Sponsored Posts and videos are doing on my blog, its just that I have registered with a few marketing sites and they pay me to put up articles on certain products. Its just some pocket money generation for the blog to quench my prop shopping, ingredients sourcing fetish. So on and off you will find these posts and please don't be disheartened by the recurrence. If it is becoming a hindrance, I shall be the first one to take them off. Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Plenty - Juan Sheet advert

Somehow, the concept of using kitchen towels is not that popular in India and although I used to have a roll in my kitchen back then, it was never put to much use and all i did was admire the wrought iron kitchen roll holder I'd picked up on a trip to the US.

Fast forward to a year later and I was using kitchen towels like nobody's business and was running out of rolls every 2 weeks or so. I was so used to having them at arms reach in my kitchen here in UK and with this practise in mind, I tried the same in my moms kitchen back home. She used to panic about the number of kitchen towels I use and the usual line, 'its so expensive to buy a roll here, you cant use it like you do in UK. Please use the cloth towels to wipe surfaces.' I tried to explain to her it was so much more convenient, but then understood the problem. The towels were hopeless They were so thin and pathetic that one towel wouldn't do to mop up a spill, but I had to use 2 or even 3 in layers for it to have some effect. Needless to say, that kinda put an end to my cooking expeditions in my moms kitchen, well that and a couple of other mishaps :)

Back in my own comfortable kitchen and I was glad I had the option of using kitchen towels without much fuss. There are so many options available at the stores, but my favourite so far is Plenty which in itself has a few different types of towels, for any occasion you can think of. The original one (which I personally think is the best), the fat one (which is the latest addition and well, has 50% more sheets per roll; oh and also comes in fun prints) and the wipe, rinse and reuse one (which is such a brilliant discovery, I love it. You also end up using fewer towels). I mostly use my towels in the kitchen- to drain the oil off fried food, to wipe my glass hob top, to mop spills, wipe the bins and surfaces etc- but I also occasionally use them to wipe down glass windows, bathroom mirrors and the shower glass. It works like a charm and I'm so glad its affordable and widely available in all the stores.

To know more about Plenty and its uses, check out their website and don't forget to stop by at Juan's (the cleaning superhero), who does his magic to reveal what all Plenty can do. Check out the fun video below (he's quite funny).

PS: A recent discovery of rolling up herbs like coriander and mint in Plenty towels, and keeping them in the refrigerator making it last much longer, was jackpot. It really works people, trust me!