Look, I baked my own bread!

I have tried to bake bread at home several times before, but sometimes the yeast wouldn’t rise, sometimes it would turn out to be a brick and sometimes it would taste like straw. In effect, epic fail, every single time. Until, that wonderful day when I chanced upon Alexandra’s Kitchen, and landed on her mother’s recipe for the perfect peasant bread. And if she claims that this is the best & easiest recipe, then just believe her, ’cause it just is! How she gets the ideal water temperature for the yeast to activate is the coolest tip ever, I tell you it always works. She uses 3 parts cold water to 1 part boiling water (right off the water kettle, for instance), and then equal parts of sugar & dry yeast. No more dormant yeast in my kitchen, hah! Plus it’s no-knead bread, so much better than one that requires muscle power, right? I’ve tried a few variations of the original, it’s turned out super delicious each time. As my colleague said, I’m now ready to be a grand-mom ūüėÄ Here’s me showing off my newly acquired grand-mom skills ūüėé

My first attempt was to follow the recipe word by word. I really surprised myself with the result. I guess I didn’t have any expectations at all, heh heh.

Next time, I tried to mix the all purpose flour with wholewheat flour in the ratio 3:1, and added some dill. I also baked it in small cupcake moulds, and ramekins just to see how that went. The dill smelt & tasted so good, and these were great for breakfast.

The third time I tried to up the health quotient a bit more by changing the flour ratio to 5:3, the bread was slightly denser, but still quite fluffy. I think I’ll keep this as my standard, any more of the wholewheat will probably not be as yummy. I also put in some chopped up olives and sun dried tomatoes, which made by bread oh-so-fancy!

Do you have a perfect go-to recipe that you swear by? I’d love to know!

Travel checklist : 2016

2016 was a year of adventures, big and small. Early last year, Mr.A and I prepared a 2016 Travel Wishlist. And we went though quite a bit of it, of course, missing some here & there, but adding a few more in the end. By the end of it, I had ticked off 9 totally new countries! Whoa, I’m so lucky!! So, continuing on the tradition set down by my Travel checklist: 2015, here’s the¬†lineup from 2016…

#1 Germany : Around my birthday in February, we visited Berlin, a city rife with such poignant history, yet so contemporary at the same time. It was an eye-opener, trying to imagine what the city might have gone through during those war-torn years.

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#2 Czech Republic : In spring, it was time for beautiful Prague, together with our friends N&G. The city of a hundred spires was as intriguing as we had expected. Like Berlin, here too, we experienced some heartrending snippets of history.

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#3 Croatia : May brought in a terrific week of road-trips, when we travelled through the length of Croatia, from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. We visited several cities and witnessed amazing geography, enjoyed traditional food and met some really nice people along the way.

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#4 Estonia : Around midsummer, we took an overnight cruise to Tallinn,¬†to see its charming old town and relax at a spa hotel. Mr.A’s little sis joined us on this fun trip.

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#5 Latvia : A mere 4-hour bus ride from Tallinn brought us to Riga, another really winsome town with its many spires, squares, parks and cafes.

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#6 Iceland : In fall came our epic road-trip around Iceland with our friends S&S, one of our most awe-inspiring trips ever. To say that the landscape is stunning, is a gross understatement. Every step of the way was a revelation in beauty and wonder.

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#7 Switzerland :  In September, Mr.A and I took my parents on a trip to Switzerland, the enchanting land of endless green fields, glorious mountains and postcard villages.

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#8 United Kingdom : And then there was a bonus office trip to London. Though it was short & snappy, I got a chance to see a couple of prime spots and became even more excited about returning to this groovy city.

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#9 Hungary : ¬†In November, keeping up with an unsaid tradition of ours, we celebrated Mr.A’s birthday in Budapest. We were charmed by this city of bridges, and felt knowledgable¬†while comparing it to its almost-twin, Prague.

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#10 India : And finally in December¬†we spent time in¬†India to connect with our beloved¬†friends and family. I know this is cheating, ’cause I am from India, so this is not a new visit, but I just couldn’t resist the fun of getting¬†down to a¬†square¬†ten-pointer ūüėČ

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How was your year in travel? Keep going!!

Anniversary Teppanyaki

Two words, but quite a mouthful, right?! See how punny I am ūüėČ So tried out the new teppanyaki restaurant in town, Budda Khan at the Mall of Scandinavia, Stockholm. Mr.A had had teppanyaki before when he was in the U.S. & he was so eager for me to try it. Lucky for us, the joint opened its teppanyaki section just in time for our¬†anniversary, our 6th year as a wedded couple, yes, time flies!¬†As is common at this kind of grill, we shared the table with two other couples. They were such happy souls, the best strangers I could have asked to share our evening with. We ordered king prawns, scallops and rib eye, all prepared with flourish right before us. Seeped in garlicky goodness with flavours of soya, vinegar and some special sauces, each dish was a pleasant surprise. The dinner¬†was accompanied by a fresh mango-rucola salad, some mixed fried rice and a velvety green tea ice-cream served on a bed of fried plantain. The food was absolutely delicious, but of course, half the fun was also watching the ‘show’ being presented by our¬†super friendly Chinese chef. If you haven’t tried it yet, I do recommend going to a teppanyaki restaurant, where dining is supposed to¬†be a complete experience.¬†

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P.S. This post shares my own opinion of the restaurant and is not an advertisement.

Foodies in Budapest

Mr.A & I love¬†good food, it’s one of our common denominators ūüėÉ On our latest weekend getaway,¬†Budapest pleasantly surprised and pampered our tastebuds. My favorite places, you ask? Here you go…

#1 The Bigfish Seafood Bistro

Mr.A & I were completely wowed by the excellent quality of the food here.We are seafood paella and fried calamari and vegetables. Both turned out super! The portions¬†were quite hearty. The restaurant’s decor is quite neat. You¬†could also choose fresh a la carte seafood from a glass counter if you fancy. The location is very¬†close to Oktogon, right on Andrassy Avenue. If you are in the locality, give it a go.

#2 The Book Cafe

What a gorgeous cafe! This is one of the most elegant¬†cafes I’ve been to. The ceiling and chandeliers are so luxurious, I couldn’t stop looking & clicking pictures. The food is mostly cafe style sandwiches and cakes. We tried some & liked them. They serve both alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages. It’s a very nice place to feel fancy without having to spend a lot!

#3 Cafe Gelarto

The speciality of this gelateria is that they fashion roses out of your dessert. Delicious and pretty at the same time. You can choose two to¬†four flavours – I picked chilli chocolate with lime sorbet, a brilliant combination. It’s surprisingly cheap, two euros for two flavours! This place is right in front of St. Istvan Basilica.

#4 Kozmosz Vegan Restaurant

It was my first visit to an exclusively vegan restaurant & I was glad to be here. Both gyros plate & Mexican plate were delicious. Although Mr.A¬†thought the bean dish extra¬†garlicky, but I was happy¬†with it. The best & pear juices were absolutely fresh. It wasn’t much crowded, they played¬†nice music & the waiter was so polite. I’d recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants to give vegan a go.

#5 Cafe Vian

This was our first meal in Budapest. We had the local goulash, that was good enough the and chicken paprikash, which was better. They served p√°linkas with honey, and the Hungarian red wine was smooth. The Hungarian sponge cake dessert was decadent. Though the waiters seemed a bit clumsy, I heard¬†three crashes in the couple of hours we were there! I guess it just means they are quite busy ūüėČ