PICNIC IN PARADISE

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I write from Paradise. There’s no other word that describes the feeling of being amid lush green nature in the heart of  throbbing, cacophonic Manhattan. And even more tempting in the “Big apple” is the gourmet picnic fare that seduces with it’s masterful flavors and tastes. Each dish unerringly made by the brilliant and exceptionally gifted chef Ashfer Biju.

WHY PICNIC?

I love picnics and ever since my childhood have gone on one at the drop of a hat. But this is my most spectacular and memorable picnic ever. Interestingly, picnics have been a part of history and art and literature too. Did you know that  in 2000, a 600-mile-long picnic took place from coast to coast in France? This was to celebrate the first Bastille Day of the new Millennium. Even here, in the United States, the 4 July celebrate American independence is a popular day for a picnic. In Italy, the favorite picnic day is Easter Monday. The energy and abundance of nature infuses itself into the food and whoa! What amazing chemistry takes place. And when there is a maestro orchestrating the goodies in the picnic basket then even more magic happens.

BIJUS BEJEWELLED BREAKFAST

Kudos to Ashfer Biju, this young Indian chef who has captivated the highly sophisticated tastebuds of New Yorkers. Ofcourse, he has gourmet genes: his father had a highly popular  restaurant in Hyderabad still runs a super restaurant in Malaysia and chef Biju started cooking in his teens.

Not only did this young Executive chef  start off by wining the National Level Young Chef’s Competition, in Mauritius but has continued to be showered by accolades and awards. Nationally and internationally. Having worked in many a Leading Hotel of the world he now heads up the iconic Pierre hotel. Here elegant history and glamor tango with modern high-tech luxury. Not only has it played host to royalty and state heads but many a Hollywood star like Elizabeth Taylor have made it their home for several years. It is here in their cutting edge TwoE that  he has introduced many an amazing flavor palatte. Two e goes classic, Classic reinterpreted and many such spectacular dishes blitz the tastebuds here. And chef Michael Mignano’s dessert menu also dazzles, with it’s sorbet samplers and more. Interestingly, Pierre  also offers Mediterranean vegetable-based dishes, Indian vegetarian, vegan Halal, gluten-free and Kosher meals too.

Through the various menus this brilliant young chef’s passion for traveling and exploring different ethnic cultures, cuisines and people shines through.

His interest in Ayurveda and Medicinal Cooking keeps him evolving amazing recipes too.

 

Chef Biju has an impressive roster of international work, from Kreo-Asian Food Promotion at Hotel Palace, Luzern to

training at “Claridges Hotel”

“Mosimann’s Club” London.

 

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

 

Chef Biju’s  culinary training is rooted in the French and Basque regions. Interestingly, The Pierre has a huge and impressive culinary history. It opened in 1930 serving food in the classic French style, initiated by celebrated Master Chef Escoffier who developed the original menus. That tradition continues. And Chef Biju brings to the table amazing and dazzling flavors and textures. Our picninc basket too overflows with tasty magic…I request for the recipe of the superb buttermilk pancakes and end with the wish “Ma your life be a picnic always”.


 

Silver Dollar Buttermilk Pancakes

Makes 25 tiny pancakes (the size of silver dollars)

2 cups                    refined flour                  sifted

2 tsp               baking powder

1 tsp               baking soda

½ tsp                     salt

2 cups                    buttermilk

2 ea                large eggs               yolks & whites separated

2 tbl sp                  powdered sugar

2 tsp               melted butter

 

¼ tsp                     icing sugar                     for garnish

10 ea                      strawberries                   for garnish

1 cup                     maple syrup                   as accompaniment

1 cup                     chocolate chips                     optional

1 cup                     blue berries                   optional

 

Method of preparation:

 

  • Pre-heat a griddle or a non stick pan to medium high heat, lightly smear with oil (or use pan spray) and wipe off completely. There should not be any residual oil on the pan, but for a light coating

 

  • Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Mix egg yolks and buttermilk together in a separate bowl
  • Prepare a soft meringue by beating egg whites and adding sugar gradually
  • Combine all three mixtures in a large mixing bowl ensuring the mixture is homogeneous using a spatula or a paddle, Do not over mix
  • Add melted butter to the batter

 

  • Pour the batter on to pre-heated griddle (approximately a table spoon full for each pancake)
  • To prepare chocolate chip or blueberry pancake, gently place some toppings on to wet pancake top at this stage
  • Once the pancake starts to bubble on top, turn and cook the other side for about a minute
  • Remove the pancakes from the pan, dust with icing sugar, Serve hot with maple syrup and strawberries

 

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