Washington Apples – A Cooking Demo by Chef Vicky Ratnani

I’ve been bad. Really really bad. I was supposed to do this post like two months ago. Now that I’ve tied myself to the chair and also have some finger food and some of my home-made Jal-jeera keeping me company, I’m hoping nothing will come in the way. So yeah, a couple of months back, I’d been to this fun event that involved food bloggers, a Masterchef cooking for us, and good food. The part about the good food was no surprise though. Not when we’re talking Chef Vicky Ratnani. It was like a dream come true to watch him live in action. I’ve always been a fan of his cookery shows on TV. Be it ‘Gourmet Central’ or ‘Do it Sweet’…he has me hooked.

So when Rachana and Swapnil from the SCS Group got in touch with me about the Washington Apples Cooking demo by chatty Chef Vicky Ratnani, my joy knew no bounds. I was heard saying “yes” instantly. On D-day, I excitedly made my way to the venue – the 100ft Boutique Restaurant in Indiranagar. A very cozy place with an attached boutique selling interesting quaint and contemporary knick-knacks. I had my eyes on the different Buddha curios they had on sale. I’m definitely going back in there for some retail therapy soon.

The demo was organised on the first floor, a wonderful roof-top setting (read: with the perfect amount of diffused lighting for food photography), and as soon we walked out of the landing, I caught a glimpse of Chef. He was busy chopping, grating, and intently working on setting up his work table. I mustered some courage, and though it seemed a little intimidating (at first) to simply walk up and say hi to a celebrity, I actually did. I went up to him, introduced myself and said hi. And he actually took a moment off from his work and spoke to me and the others who’d also managed to gather around him by then. Really sweet of him. One thing’s for sure – I’ve never met a more down-to-earth celebrity.

And so we started off by learning about the different varieties of Apples Washington Apples has brought for us in India. Before I went to the demo, I’d only heard of 2-3 varieties of Apples, but now I know there’s more to apples in India than just those I’d seen/eaten. Times are changing. There are 9 varieties of Washington Apples, out of which we have 7 available to us in India (Yes, that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?). That picture above is pretty self-explanatory, no? Learn it by-heart ‘cos it will be useful the next time you’re shopping for apples.

Also, here’s some useful trivia you could use while on your next shopping trip (information courtesy: SCS Group)

Red Delicious: The heart-shaped fruit is bright red and sometimes striped. Crunchy with a mildly sweet flavor, Reds are also great in salads.

Golden Delicious: It’s the all-purpose apple. Mellow and sweet, Goldens are great for eating out of hand, baking and in salads. In salads and other dishes, their flesh stays white longer than other apples.

Granny Smith: Green, extremely tart, crisp, juicy and versatile, they’re available year-round. They’re also excellent for snacking and in salads.

Gala: Pinkish-orange stripes over a yellow background are the signature of this crisp, aromatically-sweet, snappy apple. Snacking and salads are primary uses.

Fuji: This big, super-sweet, crisp apple was introduced to the U.S. from Japan in the 1980s.It’s known for its hard texture and syrupy sweetness. It’s also excellent for baking and in salads.

Braeburn:  This apple’s rich, sweet-tart, spicy flavor is high-impact. Color varies from orange to red over a yellow background. Aromatic, juicy and crisp, this apple is very firm. Braeburn are great for snacking and baking.

Cripps Pink: Firm, crisp flesh and a unique, tangy-tart, sweet flavor are characteristic of this apple. Snackers and bakers give the variety high marks in consumer tastings. Cripps Pink is also known as Pink Lady.

OK, so now that you’re no longer a novice when it comes to Apples, say thank you and lets move on to the part where I get you all green-eyed. Oh yes, you can bet your last dime I’ll have you turning all green by the end of this post. Do we have a deal? Alright then, we are so on. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

While we waited for Chef to get his act together, we were served some heady Apple-tinis and I really cannot remember how many I had from start till the end. *hic* I’m lucky I didn’t get caught for drunken driving that day ;) Shhh!

We also had some crunchy apples to snack on.

By this time, Chef was all ready to wow us with his cooking acts. He started with making some lip-smacking Apple, Radish and Jackfruit Salad with a roasted cumin-vinaigrette dressing. In Chef’s words – “The salad is a perfect marriage between apple and jackfruit”. 100% true! I’d like to add – “…and the vinaigrette dressing is the priest”. Chef highlighted the use a mandolin for chopping fruits/veggies for a salad, and how it only intensifies the taste. He did have a point about how the texture of a dish does play a very important role when it has to please the palate. He also gave us some nifty tips on how to quickly whip up a variety of vinaigrette dressing options with complete ease. I intend to try this salad at home before jackfruit goes out of season, and will share all the secrets about Chef’s vinaigrettes then. Till then, you can probably contend yourself with this colourful picture, yeah?

Next, he set about making us some Colonial Apple and Pumpkin Bisque (pronounced bisk), which is basically a thick soup. The bisque was just my kind of soup – thick, creamy, luscious (Clear soups don’t excite me at all). Every spoonful felt like a bit of heaven. Mmmmmm! I know this picture doesn’t do any justice to the actual dish that was set before me. Kindly adjust maadi.

Next came the entrée, and Chef dished up a wonderful Green Apple Risotto with Hazelnuts and Brie Cheese. In one word – Yum-ville. When he browned some butter and roasted the hazelnuts and some green apple and topped it over the risotto, I was drooling shamelessly with my mouth wide open. Considering the number of cameras that were constantly flashing there that day, no one caught me like that on candid camera. Thank God for that.

Before we knew it, it was time for dessert…aah, the best part of any meal. Unfortunately, this was not Chef’s creation but a classic from the 100 ft Boutique Restaurant. As much as we all pulled faces when we heard about that, we were smiling from ear to ear once we had a chance to dig into this scrummy Apple crumble cake served with Vanilla ice-cream on the side. The perfect ending to a perfect gourmet meal.

Who ate up my dessert I say? :-/

The hours just flew past us, and it was soon time to go. We thanked the hosts, the SCS group and Chef for the wonderful event. I requested the Chef for a picture and an autograph, both of which are now cherished keeps for life :)

There’s the Chef signing me an autograph…

I know you’re trying to squint and read what he’s written. Allow me to make the job easier for you. The autograph says – “To Dearest Madhuri, Lots of Luv & Culinary Wishes – Vicky”. How sweet is that! Thank you Chef :)

After autographs, we all wanted a picture with Chef. I think we ladies really hassled him that day, poor guy!

From L-R: Shubhada, Suma Rowjee, Ally, Chef Vicky Ratnani, Me, Irin, Deepthi Shankar, Sweatha Pai. There, mission accomplished! Picture ‘Purrrfect’ ala Chef Vicky Ratnani style :D

Much as I enjoyed Chef’s marvellous creations that day, I’m definitely going back to the 100ft Boutique Restaurant again to taste their food. Just tasting their dessert was not good enough for me. I need all the works. I might even think of doing a review on them if I like them (or not), so stay tuned.

Thank you SCS team for putting together such a fantastic event from an even fantastic MasterChef! I had the time of my life watching one of my favourite Chefs in action and live. He had us eating out of his hands, and it was truly ‘lovely’ to spend time with him. An afternoon to remember. Thank you too, for the luscious apples you gave us to bring back home. Relished them so much, I selfishly gobbled them all up. I will have to buy myself a batch to try my hand at cooking/baking with them.

So now, let’s come back to our deal. Yes our deal – between you and me. Yes you! Are you green-eyed yet? Muhuhahahaha, did I not tell you so. Let me be nice and give you too a basketful of apples. Now that you know that apples go beyond just eating as a fruit, could I urge you to try something creative in your kitchen? Will share my experiment with you too, soon.

Before you go, do tell who your favourite Chef is. I’d love to know.

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5 responses to “Washington Apples – A Cooking Demo by Chef Vicky Ratnani

  1. Super post Mads and as I said purrrffeect lighting. It cannot get better than this. :-)..My favorite chef is..Giada De Laurentiis. I think she is beautiful and cooks so endearingly that I want to try every dish of hers. Coming to Indian khana, Tarla dalal,for being so homey. :-).. I think Sanjeev Kapoor is little overrated, but hey he is running a show successfully for past 17 years, there must be something great about him :-)

    Siri

  2. Wowee, I absolutely love vicki & enjoy his show on NDTV Good times ! apple risotto & appletini look stunning !!

  3. Kalakkal post Mads! Love those savory dishes made from apple and I seriously wish to gulp that appletini now :D Btw, my favorite chef is not one but two – Ina Garten and Tarla dalal. They are two awesome ladies and I love everything about them.

  4. Green-eyed? More like green all over. Or, may be red, like the apples themselves. LOL! But, yes, you certainly put together your entire experience beautifully here. I am looking forward to more apple based recipes from you, soon!

    My favourite chef…umm, I wish I could name one! Allow two, will ya, please? Just to make this easy for me? Racheal Ray and Ina Garten. They contrast each other. Racheal is the spontaneous, I-can-fix-a-mean-using-anything kind, for which I LOVE her (psst.. I can so see myself in the way she cooks sans the jabbering, which I so love, too! LOL!). And, Ina for her classic, calm, do-it-by-the-rule ways which tell me that sometimes rules are to be followed and you cannot just throw things together to make a dish (Think baking, think Ina!). As for Indian Chefs, I think I’d go with Sanjeev Kapoor, because really, it was only his show that I ‘followed’ as a child, and I must mention this, WITH Mom. Then, I stopped even that because I never even wanted to enter the kitchen back then. Times change, and I’ve emerged the foodie! So yeah, three chefs I adore!

  5. And, can I add…in the recent past, Sanjay Thumma for his over-the-top expressions and passion for food. I know he adds way too much of everything in what he makes although he says ‘just a little, not too much’, but he certainly knows to make cooking seem easy and fun.

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