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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Yogurt Cheesecake with Fresh Raspberries

Light and fluffy, sweet n tangy, each creamy bite that just melts into your mouth, mmmm......tastes so fabulous that it absolutely sweeps you off your feet!!  If I close my eyes right now, that is what comes to my mind when I think of a perfect cheesecake. This cheesecake comes pretty close to my picture of a perfect cheesecake. 
And the best part is you can go right ahead and indulge your sweet tooth without feeling too guilty as sour cream has been substituted by greek yogurt making it comparatively lighter than the classic cheesecake.
Even after being 3 months here in U.S, it is still quite an overwhelming experience for me to go grocery shopping. A visit to any supermarket. even to pick up the most basic item easily means an hour or two down the lane. Even now I tend to get lost trying to make my way through the confusing maze of innumerable rows and counters full of ingredients, trying hard to make up my mind what to pick up as the choices present before you are so vast and so confusing to someone like me who is not familiar with the American brands.
 On one of numerous visits to the store I picked up a tub of Greek yogurt only to realize much later when after 2-3 days I took out the yogurt to use for marinating chicken that it was actually vanilla flavored sweet yogurt. I had somehow missed reading the small print on the carton which said vanilla flavored and now I did not know what to do with it as no one was willing to eat it. 
Not wanting to waste the big carton of yogurt I thought of making several things with it like a smoothie, frozen yogurt or maybe just mix it with fresh fruits. I wasn't sure if the kids would be too excited about the smoothie or the mixed fruit yogurt and the frozen yogurt just seemed too much work (maybe I will save that for summers). Searching the net for some ideas, I came upon Betty Crocker's recipe of Frozen Yogurt Cheesecake which sounded wonderful and just seemed perfect for what I had in mind. As it is I had been wanting to try out a cheesecake for a long time. 
Betty Crocker's recipes also called for Philadelphia Cream cheese which fortunately I had lying in my fridge. And this I feel brought out the real taste in the cheesecake. Unfortunately in India, Philadelphia cream cheese is available only in gourmet grocery stores and that too at exorbitant prices. Imagine one 8 oz. package costing Rs 450 - that is a little more than $7. So even though I had always had making a cheesecake on my wish list but just that I did not want to spend that much on trying out a cheesecake ( o make one cheesecake I would require 3 8 oz packages -that would add up to a little more than $20- a little too much don't you think?)
I tweaked the original recipe a little. I reduced the cream cheese  and increased the quantity of yogurt (after all I was looking for a way to finish off my yogurt), mixed in all the ingredients according to the instructions given in the recipe, finally put the cheesecake in the oven to bake and crossed my fingers praying that it would work. 
The result was amazing. I had a super-smooth, creamy cheesecake just what I had always dreamt of making. And I could not believe how simple it was to make it!!
I promise you one bite of this luscious cheesecake and the memories of its sweet taste are going to linger on your mind for long time.
Ingredients
For the crust:
11/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons butter melted
For the filling:
2 packages (8 ounce each) cream cheese softened 
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups vanilla yogurt (or use 2 cups plain yogurt with 2 tsp vanilla extract)
21/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
Topping:
1 cup fresh raspberries or any other fruit of your choice like strawberries, grapes, peaches.cherries, blueberries whatever your heart desires.
Icing sugar for sprinkling
Directions:
Heat oven to 375 F (190 C)
Spray 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
To make the crust you can either buy graham cracker crumbs or you can make your own by crushing up whole graham crackers. Approximately 10 graham crackers will yield 11/2 cups of crumbs when crushed.To crush the crackers place them in a ziplock bag and seal it. Crush the crackers by using a rolling pin to crush it finely.
Once the crackers are finely crushed into fine crumbs place them in a bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Add the butter to the crushed crumbs and mix well.
Press the crumbs into the base of the springform and smooth evenly with a spoon.
Bake in the oven for 7 minutes at 375 F.
Turn down the oven to 300 F (150 C)
In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
Add sugar and eggs;beat on medium speed till smooth.
Beat in the yogurt and flour till well blended. 
Pour the mixture into the springform pan over the graham cracker crumbs.
Place cheesecake in oven with pan of water on oven rack below it (to prevent cracking). 
Bake 1 hour 25 minutes or until center is set. The cake will still be quite jiggly with lightly brown edges when it is done.
Leave it inside the warm oven for 20 minutes leaving the oven door a little open.

When you remove it from the waterbath, run a thin bladed knife around the edge to make sure the edges are loosened.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled. 
Remove the outside of the springform pan once it is finished chilling.
Leave cheesecake on pan bottom to serve. (I did the mistake of trying to move the bottom plate and almost had a heart attack when the cheesecake got a nasty crack on the top Maybe that too will come with experience)
Now, ofcourse the cheesecake is delicious enough to eat on its own but I suggest top with fresh raspberries or any of your favorite fruit, sprinkled with a little icing sugar on top to take it to the next level. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Perfect Roast Chicken

There is something so grand and elegant about roasting a whole chicken that it never fails to bring a big smile of cheer to everyone's face in my family. Golden brown, crisp and gleaming in all its glory, its a big moment of celebration for my kids, when the showstopper is brought out, to be placed royally in the center of the table, vainly soaking in all the attention(I can almost hear the trumpets blowing!!). Everybody eagerly and most importantly, patiently waits to get a piece of their choice while I get my tools (sharpest knife) out and struggle(read literally fight) to carve it out. Yes, till date carving a whole chicken is a skill I haven't been able to achieve perfection in. 
But lot of times I do wonder does this dish really deserve all this special attention ( I had not thought it did so up until this very moment) or is it just a hyped piece of meat wanting to create a stir because of its good looks?
This is not the first time that I am making a whole roasted chicken. I have tried it on several occasions earlier but never to my own satisfaction. Check out the Roasted Chicken I made in 2011, Though each time, my family absolutely loved it but somehow, something was always missing in there for me. I always felt as if there was this one thing lacking that I could not put my finger on, sometimes the flavors a little too bland for my liking, unable to steep right till the insides, sometimes the flesh a little tough or just not quite done.
But......Its been a long time since then and I feel I have come a long way, improvising, learning from my mistakes, reading, experimenting and adapting myself to newer techniques and methods.
To perfect this particular recipe I surfed the net for my quest for a perfectly roasted chicken!! After a couple of hours I actually understood how Ina Garten's Roasted Chicken came out so perfect, made a mental note of the do's and dont's advocated by Thomas Keller while roasting the chicken and was amazed by how simple The Pioneer Woman made her recipe to be. 
Well!! My recipe is inspired by these great people and I have tried to incorporate a little bit from each of their recipes. Believe me!! The end result was an absolute winner - a perfectly roasted chicken (at last!!) with not only had a superbly brown crispy skin, but a beautiful moist and juicy flesh with a real punch of flavor all the way through till deep inside - something that left me feeling satisfied and very proud of myself.
A few things to keep in mind before you begin if you are looking for great results:-
First is do brine the chicken. I found that brining the chicken for a couple of hours really helps to bring out the flavors in the bird and help to keep it moist and juicy. 
Secondly, make sure you rub the marinade all over the chicken, including under the skin and wings. The butter (you can use olive oil too) rubbed on the outside of the skin along with the salt and pepper encourages browning and enhances the flavor all over. 
Truss the chicken as it keeps the chicken compact for roasting.
One other important thing I have learned to use here in the U.S is the use of a Meat Thermometer to check for doneness of the meat. This is something which all meat lovers should have.
Finally do rest your chicken for at least 15-20 minutes, even though you might feel like attacking it the moment it is out of the ovenso that all its juices are soaked in by the skin giving you a moist flavorful chicken.

So, its your turn now!! Are you ready for the show?
Bon Appetit!!

Ingredients
For Brining the chicken:
6 cups warm water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, crushed
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger

For the Roasted Chicken:
1 (5 to 6 pounds) roasting chicken
kosher salt
1/2 cup softened butter
4 sprigs Rosemary
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried Thyme
4 whole lemons
freshly ground black pepper
1 head garlic cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoon (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2 inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed and cut into wedges,
4 Tbsp butter
Method
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle of the oven.
Remove the chicken giblets.
To brine the chicken, combine all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to a boil. Stir till the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Pour the brine in a 2 gallon resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Squeeze out as much air as possible; Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, turning several times. In case you don't have a resealable plastic bag, simply place the chicken in the brine solution in a big pan.
Discard brine. Rinse chicken thoroughly with water. Pat dry the inside and outside with paper towels really well. The less it steams, the crispier the skin of your chicken is going to be.
Put the butter in a bowl. Zest up at least two lemons and mix the zest with the softened butter. Strip off a bunch of Rosemary leaves and add into the butter. In case you can't get fresh leaves don't ya worry, use dried Rosemary leaves. Add in the minced garlic, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
Smear the butter liberally on the skin of the chicken and then gently massage the chicken all over with your fingers. Don't forget to smear it under the skin and inside the cavity and the nooks and corners under the wings and thighs,
Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the top. Now, sprinkle some salt all over the chicken so that it has a nice uniform coating. This will help to give the skin a nice crisp, salty, flavorful skin. 
Stuff the cavity with a bunch of thyme leaves, cut lemon wedges, cut garlic, and onion.
Tie both the legs together with a kitchen string and tuck the wings tips under the body of the chicken. This is also called 'trussing the bird'. Trussing helps the wings and legs to stay close to the body, helping the chicken to cook evenly, not to mention it results in a beautiful elegant looking bird.
Place the onions, carrots and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt and pepper.
Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the trussed chicken breast side up on top.
Roast the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperatures to 375 F and continue roasting until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into between the breast and inner thigh(be careful to not to touch the bone) reads 165 F about 50 minutes to 1 hour more. Skin would be a beautiful deep golden brown color by now and the sizzling juices music to your ears.
Remove the chicken and vegetables from the oven into a platter and cover with a aluminium foil to rest for 20 minutes. Letting the chicken 'rest' gives the juices to settle down so that they soak into your meat and make it more flavorful instead of just flowing out into the cutting board.
No more waiting.....its time to dig in!!
Feel great and glorify in all the words of appreciation you get from your family members and guests. I am sure no one would guess how easy it was to make it.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake.......and a Reunion!!

The Cranberry fruit is something that I discovered here in America.  Since then the rich eye- popping, red colored fruit with a tongue-tingling tart flavor has me absolutely hooked on to it. 
I sure had seen these fruits around back in India too, but there, they were found mostly in dried form and that too only in specialty grocery stores like Food hall, Nature's Basket and Modern bazaar. Having tasted the dried cranberries I had found them to be delicious- sweet with a slight tinge of tartness in them. 
After coming here, to the U.S, on one of our many trips to the supermarkets (and believe me in the beginning we were there almost every day as initially something or the other 'important' item would be forgotten or left out in the shopping list), I came across packets of fresh cranberries in the vegetable section. Red and plump, the fruit looked really attractive and I immediately grabbed a packet, keen to try out what they tasted like. Well!! nothing in the world had me prepared for the tartness of the fresh cranberries leaving me to wonder why on earth was this sour fruit so popular here in America.
Sure enough after the first 'sour' experience they were lying neglected in a corner as nobody wanted to look at them. After a few days,tired of seeing them lying around, I thought instead of throwing them away and wasting the fruit, why not stew them with sugar and make a sauce. The sauce turned out to be absolutely mind blowing. I just couldn't have enough of it and needless to say everyone loved it too. The added sugar and spices cut down the tartness and instead gave it this perky, tongue tingling flavor which with every bite left you wanting for more. 
And this is exactly when my love affair with this ruby like fruit began!! 
When we shifted here to U.S two months back, unfortunately our daughter could not come with us. She had applied for admission for the spring session in the College of Houston here and was waiting for her confirmation from the college. As everything was a little uncertain and she was already pursuing a course of her choice and that too in one of the best colleges in India, we thought it best for her to continue her undergrad course so she does not waste her year. With a heavy heart we had left her back home in India, though we were comforted by the fact that she was not completely alone as both her grandparents were there to look after her. 
It was a tough time for all of us, more so for me as being a mother one tends to be too emotionally attached to your kids and however much the kids might grow up, you would always think they need looking after. Though of course my daughter thought otherwise and managed quite well on her own.
A few weeks back we got the much awaited news that her application has been accepted by the college. We were all thrilled and made excited plans for her to join us here soon. it is only when one family member is not present you realize how incomplete one is as a family, as if something important was missing from your life. 
Of course this was just a small trailer of what we would be facing in the future when the kids flow the nest, but hopefully we will be much better prepared by then.
My daughter arrived last week. To celebrate her arrival I planned a special dinner and also baked a cake as in our house no celebrations are complete without cutting a cake.
I wanted to try out something different from the usual chocolate cake that everyone is so fond of. I thought of baking something with my new found love, fresh cranberries and searching the net I found this interesting recipe of a Cranberry upside-down cake. 
The topping is made with sweet and sticky caramelized cranberries which is beautifully paired with a light and fluffy butter cake. The best thing I liked about this recipe is because of the cranberry layer it is almost like a self saucing cake, the stewed fruit on top keeping the cake really moist. I absolutely fell in love with the flavors.
Indeed it is a special cake to celebrate a special moment!!

Recipe slightly adapted from EVERYDAY FOOD
INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons lucerne light spreadable butter
11/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice powder
1 3/4 cups fresh cranberries
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder (2 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk


Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center.
Rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons butter.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and allspice. 
Sprinkle mixture evenly over bottom of pan; arrange cranberries in a single layer on top.
I also heated a handful of cranberries with 2 tbsp brown sugar till they popped about 3-4 minutes. Then layered the bottom of a greased/ buttered pan with the fruit. 
Sprinkle some extra brown sugar on top. It gives the cake a lovely caramelized flavor.
With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar till fluffy for 4-5 minutes. 
Heat the butter in microwave for 40 seconds till melted. 
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and rest of the dry ingredients.
Add flour mixture into the egg mixture alternating with milk till well combined. 
Add in the melted butter and vanilla essence and mix well.
Spoon batter over cranberries in pan, and smooth top. 
Place pan on a baking sheet. 
Bake cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. 
Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake.
Invert onto a rimmed platter. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Spiced Apple and Cinnamon Oats Muffins.....blogpost after a long gap!!


Hi Everyone!!
I am sorry that I have been Missing in Action for quite some time now. I am guilty of not feeding my blog since the last two months. 
Actually me and my husband decided to take the big plunge... No, we are not getting married again.... We decided to move to The United States ....lock, stock and Barrel.
When my husband was offered a new project in Houston, it was a real difficult decision to make for us...it was so hard to make up our minds as we were leaving a lot behind. It's not easy to uproot yourself totally, throw away everything that you have lovingly built and collected over the last 20 years, move away from the only life you knew, leave behind your loved ones and family and move to a totally alien country, where you arrived with just two suitcases in hand and literally start everything from scratch. We just didn't know what to expect. Back in India, we had a plush comfortable life, everybody's routine was set and we thought we had reached a stage of life where you had seen everything, done everything, achieved enough to make you satisfied and content.
Then this gauntlet of a new project was thrown at us. Perplexing as it might have been, we thought to ourselves, "Why not? Let's take this offer as a new adventure, what better opportunity will we ever have in our life to give our kids some international exposure, a chance at a new life!! This opportunity was given to us in a platter so let's grab it with both our hands!! 
And secretly, I too have always nurtured a dream,  hoping someday to be able to do a baking course from the prestigious CIA (culinary Institute of America), though it might seem really really far fetched right now but I do feel a step closer to it. 
To cut the story short, we landed in Houston a month and a half back with literally nothing but just two suitcases each. I won't say things were easy at the start. It was challenging right from renting a house to buying a car and then collecting things for the house especially as all you are doing in the beginning is converting from dollars to rupees and gasping at how expensive everything seemed. Especially when you knew that those very things you were buying, you had literally thrown away/given away at the price of peanuts. 
You can imagine throwing away 20 years worth of life back home and building your house brick by brick all over again. Things that we had taken for granted back home, which didn't hold value to you out there, suddenly held a lot more value in your eyes (like my maids!! How I miss them here and the subji wallah who used to drop the vegetables home and the society grocery shop...everything was so easily available and just a phone call away). It's been a big adjustment for all of us but in a nice kind of way. In a month and a half we have settled down comfortably and enjoying the American way of life. There are many anecdotes about my transition from India to U.S which I would love to share with you and believe me there is so much to share, but I think I will be documenting my new adventures in a separate blog.
The absolute worst thing that could have happened to me was that my laptop died on me...it is just refusing to respond. Initially I thought it must be the battery problem but even after replacing the battery, it is still unresponsive. It's absolutely horrifying as with everyone else so busy, hubby with his new job and kiddo with his school, keeping busy with my food blog was what I had backed on, looked forward to, so you can imagine how heart wrecking it is for me not to be able to post anything on my blog. 
But then I thought enough is enough. For how long do I sit idle waiting for the laptop to get repaired/replaced. I had to do something about it. I have decided to experiment a bit and write my posts on my iPad and copy-paste, download the pic from google web album. I know I won't be able to post too many pictures as I plan to post two pictures and copy paste my written post in between, that way ican have a picture in the top and another at the bottom. Don't be too alarmed if the posts are a little blotchy, there might be a few errors as I have to copy paste the post in entirely one go. Somehow 'Blogger' on my iPad only allows me to edit my posts in the beginning and end of the post. I just don't know how to get to the middle portion if I have to edit. If anyone has successfully used 'Blogger' on their iPad for posting on their blog, please guide me how to go about it. Inspite all efforts I am totally clueless.
So here goes, fingers crossed, my first experimental post on my blog from my iPad after a long absence. Wish me all the best!!
I made a batch of these spiced apple cinnamon muffins with oats for my sweet 84 year old neighbour. It's incredible how he manages the complete household himself - the cooking, washing, cleaning in addition to the shopping and looking after his wife who has completely lost her eyesight. Hats off to him!! And with all this too, a more cheerful soul I have yet to meet. Full of life he always greets you with a smile whenever he sees you outside. Thinking it would be a good way to get to know my neighbours better, last week, I went across to his house with a batch of these muffins. He called back later to say how much he enjoyed them. I hope you too enjoy them.
They are so so scrumptious, full of the warm spicy flavour of cinnamon and delicious crisp apple bits, it's hard to keep your hands off them, honestly!!

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour (+ 2 teaspoons for coating apples)
Oats- 1/2 cup (I used 1 pkt of Quakers cinnamon and spice flavoured oats but you can add plain oats too)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (+ ½ teaspoon for coating apples)
2 cups diced apples
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp honey
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup milk
For the Topping:
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup ground cinnamon

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375ยบ F. Spray muffin tins with bakers spray or coat well with shortening or butter and flour, making sure to discard any excess flour from the tins after coating.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Toss together diced apples and 2 teaspoons of flour to coat apples in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Beat sugar and eggs till creamy and light in colour, about 4-5 minutes.
Gently fold in the sifted flour and oats. Mix in the vanilla essence, oil and milk.
Fold in apples.
Stir until just combined. Fold in diced apples and scoop mixture into prepared muffin tins, filling about ⅔ to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Prepare topping for muffins while the muffins are baking by melting the butter and allowing to cool slightly. Pour butter into a separate bowl sized easy for dipping tops of muffins. Mix together granulated sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl and set aside.
Once muffins have baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the muffin tin. Then, remove each muffin and dip first into the melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place onto a plate to finish cooling.



Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Chef Jian Zhou brings whole new flavours to The House of Ming, Taj Mahal Hotel

If we have to choose the most popular cuisine in our country, without a doubt the Chinese cuisine would win hands down. Having stormed the country in the early 80's, Chinese food has become an integral part of our gastronomical history as any other regional food. I have serious doubt if there would be a single person who has not had a taste of or heard of Chinese staples like Chow-mein or Chilli Chicken or sweet and sour or Momos. It might not be the most 'authentic' of Chinese food but it is the Chinese food that we Indians have grown to love. I remember during college days nothing used to be more satisfying than having a hot plate of noodles topped with spicy Chicken Manchurian or sweet and sour (without a doubt loaded with MSG but who cared during those days!!) from the mobile van parked outside the gates. If you did not want to have it there, you could conveniently get it 'parceled' and relish it in the comforts of your room. Those were the days!! 
Even today, going out for a meal together as a family our first choice of meal is most often Chinese. Of course, I have moved much beyond the stereotypical American Chopsuey and the greasy chowmein and spicy sauces as one realizes authentic Chinese food is all about lightly cooked food, delicate balance of flavors and freshness of ingredients (and strictly no MSG). 
My fondness for Chinese food landed me at The House of Ming at The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, which offers some of the city's best selection of chinese dishes, to attend a specially held Bloggers table. The House of Ming had newly appointed Chef Jian Zhou, who had meticulously crafted a new menu, including a wide variety of appetizers, soups, main course and desserts. Chef Jian hails from China and brings with him over two decades of culinary expertise.The cuisine showcased at the House of Ming is primarily from the Canton and Sichuan regions where the Sichuan style offers hot and spicy fare, Cantonese cuisine alluring the palates of those who prefer light subtle flavors. I couldn't wait to see what signature touch had Chef Jian added to the premier restaurant's  already popular menu.
The restaurant's classic decor and is reminiscent of Zen simplicity. The moment you enter the restaurant you immediately feel a sense of peace and tranquility looking around at the pristine white decor. Even the crockery, the wall hangings, the porcelain vases are all done in hues of green, blue and white as these colors have a great significance in the Ming dynasty history. Blue represents peace, stability, tranquility, unity and immortality. 
Delayed due to some unforeseen circumstances, by the time I reached the restaurant, others were well into their first course of appetizers. Of course the staff was nice enough to serve whatever I had missed along with the main course. Amongst the appetizers were served Lamb cumin, Scallops with glass noodles, Crystal mixed vegetable dumplings and Pan fried Mushroom Dumplings with colocasia sticks. I loved the dumplings which were really plump and juicy with a really thin outer covering. The Lamb Cumin was a revelation for our tastebuds. Flavored with roasted cumin powder and coriander the lamb was tender and bursting with flavor from the freshly grounded spice. When we asked the chef about his unusual choice of cumin spice in the lamb dish he told us how many years back, when working in Beijing, a regular customer had requested him to make a lamb dish with cumin. After that the dish became really popular there and the chef has continued making it. 
For soups, there was Chicken Grain Soup and Vegetarian Spinach and Tofu Soup. Chicken Grain Soup was a clear soup with coral mushrooms and small dumplings with filling of chicken mince. While I felt the chicken soup could have done with a little more flavor, the Vegetarian Spinach and Tofu Soup was delicious. With small pieces of tofu in the soup the fried garlic on the top gave it a lovely punch. It was healthy and wholesome - something that I would love to have on a cold winter day. 
The mains started with Sweetcorn Chilean Sea bass Guangdong style and Kung Pao Chicken. The fish was soft and flaky and tasted really nice. The chef had given his own twist to the Kung Pao chicken. He had made it in Canton style and the dish was little sweet. Though the lamb was cooked to perfection, I must say I prefer my spicy version better. White Chicken with Sichuan Mala sauce, we were told was a special chicken in China where it was made in white sesame water which was reduced further to make the white sauce for the chicken. What really stood out for me was the Twice cooked Spicy Pork with White Leeks and Sliced Tenderloin with Oyster Sauce. Both these dishes were winners. Twice cooked spicy pork, a classic Sichuan dish, had enhanced flavors from the fermented chilly and Shaoxing wine. Nice and spicy it left your tastebuds tingling and begging for more.
Equally popular were the Eggplant in Yu Xiang Sauce and Home Style Silken Tofu. Eggplant in Yu Xiang sauce were wok fried pieces of eggplant tossed in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce. According to the chef, in chinese cuisine the eggplant is an excellent variant for someone who does not eat meat. The fried Tofu was silken smooth and tossed with peppers and spring onions and flavored with chilli oil. Normally not a huge fan of eating tofu, this was one dish I really liked. Also served was Crackling Greens with crackling tasu. Fresh mixed chinese greens  with crispy fried Soya bean crumbs will certainly appeal to those looking for healthier options.
The Dessert an assortment of Red Bean Cake, Carved Fruits and Lotus Paste Stuffed Golden Fried Lychees had a beautiful presentation but the taste was a disappointment to me. The Red bean cake was too dense and the fried lychees just did not do anything to enhance the flavor of the Red bean cake.
All in all, there were some hits and some misses in the menu but on the whole it was a great dining experience and an absolute delight to meet the new Chef Jian Zhou and taste his delectable creations. There were lots of interesting dishes on the menu, for instance the Twice cooked Pork, Eggplant in Sichuan suce and the sliced Tenderloin with oyster sauce which were simple dishes but stood out for their outstanding flavors and textures. These are the dishes that I would go back for again and again. 
Scallops with glass noodles
Vegetarian Spinach and Tofu Soup
Chicken Grain Soup
                                         Twice cooked Spicy Pork with White Leeks
Sweetcorn Chilean Sea bass Guangdong style
Lamb cumin
Chicken Hakka Noodles
Yong Zhou fried rice
Kung Pao Chicken
Chicken with Sichuan Mala sauce
Home Style Silken Tofu
Sliced Tenderloin with Oyster Sauce
Red Bean Cake, Carved Fruits and Lotus Paste Stuffed Golden Fried Lychees