Celery Soup

Grandparents are always up for something new and today it was Celery soup. Gramma had bought celery and leek few days ago, inspired by a recipe she saw on a TV cookery show. Alas, she dint remember the process and as always decided to abandon the project. 
And there stepped in yours truly. Especially if it is something simple and interesting. An aunt had told me the celery soup recipe few years ago [she had made it for her mom who was ailing with cancer..].. and so i kinda remembered the process. Off i went to the kitchen to attack the ingredients and see what the soup tasted like.
Gramma who had tasted the celery sticks commented “it tastes exactly like onions, quite strong” [she normally does not eat onions or garlic and so this was quite a surprise for me]… 
Ingredients:
1 celery bunch- chopped roughly [there is a kind of a skin, make sure to peel that off, else you’ll be picking out fibres with every mouthful]
1 potato- raw, cut into thin cubes
Garlic – a pinch
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Oil or Butter 
Milk [optional]
Water- enough to boil the potatoes
Process:
1. In a pan, add some butter or oil
2. Add the chopped celery, potato, onion and garlic. Let the onion sweat for a few minutes 
3.Add enough water to cover the potatoes and allow it to cook for a few mins [10mins max]
4. Allow it to cool once potatoes are boiled
5. Blend in a mixer till smooth
6. Pour in the pan, add some water and allow it to boil
7. Add salt & pepper [and milk if you like]
Voila.. Enjoy the hot soup!!  It tasted quite rich and divine, not too strong, not too bland.. I was quite surprised.. We all enjoyed it…
You can also refer to the recipe by Jamie Oliver [pretty much same]
[Sorry no photograph, the soup was gone before i could locate my camera, shall make it once more and be sure to click and share]

Zha Cafe, Chennai

After hearing about this place from friends and others, i finally managed to visit it last Monday evening. Turning into the narrow lane i spotted Bharat Senior secondary school and there it was on my left. Zha Cafe… A huge white board with the name in English and the logo in Tamil stood out… The archway and door resembled that of an old traditional house in our home town. Looked very nice and appealing and on both sides there were windows with Coffee beans filled half way through. 
As soon as i entered the building, i saw there were comfortable sofas in the main hall, with smaller rooms on all sides each one with a distinct decor. 
 
 There was another bigger room in the back where a lady worked away on her laptop and the kitchen was on one side of the room. 
This was a post box, where customers dropped off their cards that were posted for real. It is the cafes way of keeping the age old tradition alive..

 
There was a room with a boat like seating arrangement, another with Rajasthani decor- pink walls, puppets hanging on the windows, comfortable seating on the floor; and then there was the cool room straight from a movie shooting set, with chairs labelled Director, Actor, Producer and so on. 
 
We chose the room near the entrance with a huge Snakes & ladders game being the center table. it was a small room, but took us back in time. There was a row of shelves with traditional gaming boards on them- few tops, a Thayathu board, Pallam Kuzhi board in the shape of a fish and a puzzle on the table. 
We ordered Mulagai Bhajji [Chilli bhajji], Cocktail idli and a Tea kadai platter… The Bhajji was hot and yumm, the idlies were slightly over fried and tasted like french fries… The Tea kadai platter is quite elaborate and each of the items were yummy… Only thing i suggested was they should serve the tea/coffee in a stainless steel vessel instead of mugs… 

When we asked for the bill, the guy brought along 2 postcards. We wrote out addresses and they promised to paste a stamp and post it for us 🙂

Home-made White Bread

The bread machine is back in action and it kicked into 1st gear straight away.. Its been over 6-8yrs since we last baked bread, for that matter baked anything.. I use the Microwave we have to make cakes or apple crumbles, but that is about it.. gone are the days when the kitchen was filled with the aroma of freshly baked buns or Donuts.. 
The bread machine
Few days back, Gramma discovered the Bread machine book and the Bread recipes and got into the “lets make bread” mode.. We bought all the necessary ingredients, including Fresh yeast and i waited for a day when i would have a bit of a breather, which dint and so i decided to take a break last evening and get started on it. I brought the bread machine out of its hide-out and Gramma picked out all the ingredients… 

Here is how we made Bread…


White bread:
3 cups of Flour
4 tsp sugar
2tsp salt
3 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Fresh yeast [1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast]
1/4 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tbsp of Italian herbs [mixed] [optional: Herbs, spices, fruits, nuts]

Process:
  1. Measure out all the ingredients
  2. Turn on the Bread machine
  3. 1st put all the liquid ingredients- water, milk, butter
  4. Now add all the dry ingredients- flour, salt, sugar, herbs
  5. Make a slight depression with your finger in the center of flour/etc
  6. Add the yeast [make sure it is not touching the water, because it will start working once it touches wetness]

The baking bowl within the bread machine

I chose the Normal Bread baking mode.. which takes 2.40 hours to cook… and you can then sit back or go for a movie and return while the bread bakes…

  The full loaf of bread

 Was able to cut through with a normal knife and the bread is super soft and flavourful.. Could taste the herbs.. Only thing, i should probably increase the salt next time, bread is a tad sweet for my taste buds

 A slice

Voila… the bread is done and you get the awesome aroma as you open the lid…

Cup O Cafe, Pursaiwalkam

It was sheer luck that we ended up at Cup O Cafe today morning. Our usual adda – The Fruit shop of greams road was shut.. After spending a few minutes exploring the Shreyas store in the rustic building, we made our way up the narrow flight of stairs to Cup O Cafe. 
From the minute we set foot on the terrace towards the cafe, we knew it was going to be a good experience. The wall near the entrance is filled with Masks of all shapes, sizes, patterns and colours. On the right was a glass walled small room ideal for a gathering of friends or a small party. Inside was a large hall air conditioned with a TV and little curio items including a Clock that had Chateau Noir written on it. The shelves had a mini fan, antique camera and few other such trinkets. We opted to sit outside as the weather was good. There is a semi closed and completely open seating area lined along the walls. 
We chose the one at the extreme, facing the road.. The cool breeze and comfortable cushions added to the fun experience. 
I ordered a Strawberry Milkshake while my friend opted for the Brownie shake.. Both tasted pretty good and dint feel heavy. After an hour or so chatting and discussing work, we sat in silence enjoying the place before heading out. 
There are hurricane lamps hanging from the ceiling, a chime of sorts hanging along each of the seating area and thatched/tiled roof. Simple and neat, the place had a feel about it. We were glad to have visited the Cafe… 
The only draw back was there are no plug sockets anywhere in the seating area [i know cos i asked so i could charge my Phone].. There was a sign near the entrance that said “Free wi-fi”.. 
[Pardon the bad quality off images, wasn’t carrying my camera and had to make do with the one in the Blackberry]

Ambiance: 4/5
Food/Drinks: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Overall – 4.5/5

Address
#23/5, RMM Centre, Dr. Allagappa Road,
Landmark Across the road from Cafe Coffee day
Purasaiwalkam,
Chennai
Phone: 044 42041560
Mobile: 7200001100, 9944909944

Locations: Across Chennai

Website: http://www.cupocafe.in/