Friday, April 4, 2014

Pizza Hut Spring Fling - Blogger's Meet-up



A few weeks ago I received an invite for a Blogger's meetup at Pizza HutThe meet-up was at their Clifton Branch (the one opposite Boat Basin) and the meeting agenda was to share the details of their Spring Fling campaign.

To be honest, its been a while since I have had Pizza Hut. With so many new pizza delivery outlets opening up it's easy to forget about the chain that started off the pizza trend in Pakistan. More importantly, Pizza Hut is a brand that I have always associated with dining out  - delivery is convenient but no matter how quickly the order comes, it just can't beat a pizza fresh out of the oven. The fact that there is no need to clean up afterwards is well icing on the cake! So while there might be new chains opening left, right & centre, when you need to go out for a traditional & comforting thick crust pizza, Pizza Hut is almost always the place of choice. Let's also not forget Pizza Hut for office farewells! .. 

Moving on from where I sidetracked the conversation to the actual meetup. 

Out of all the blogger's invited, my habit of being punctual resulted in me being the first person there (obviously). Blogger Meet-up Lesson for next time - come at least 30 minutes after the stated time. The host (the ABM) was there and we had a good chat regarding well Pizza Hut, the campaign & what exactly was the point of the meetup (it was my first one so well duh). After a few minutes, more people started coming in one by one & introductions were made. Once the entire group was there, we had a detailed & very lively discussion on Pizza Hut and their on-going campaign - the positives & the negatives; to what they are doing well, to where they can improve with ideas & suggestions for improvement. Details of the deal and my comments follow: 

Spring Fling Deal: 
Currently Pizza Hut has an ongoing campaign titled 'Spring Fling' which you might have seen on billboards here and there. Aptly titled Spring Fling to signal the end of Winter in Karachi, it offers limited edition/seasonal meal deals by Pizza Hut. The outdoor & store campaigns (billboard & promo material inside the outlets) features the deals itself, using a flower themed background to indicate the spring element. However, on the social media front, the Spring Fling campaign utilizes two brand mascots titled Sherry & Veeni to generate a buzz and interact with fans on both Twitter & Facebook

The Spring Fling deal itself is simply a deal for 4 people with an appetizer (garlic bread), pizzas (of course) and dessert (one serving of their chocolate brownie). 

For people who like to share Pizza's there's Fling 1 - 2 regular pizzas, 4 garlic bread & 1 serving of chocolicious brownie for Rs. 999 (excluding tax)

For people who like to have an individual pizza of their own there's Fling 2 - 4 personal pan pizzas, 4 garlic bread & 1 serving of chocolicious brownie for Rs. 999 (excluding tax)

Toppings available include: Chicken Tikka, Chicken Fajita, Fajita Sicilian, Hot & Spicy and Euro
Pizza Hut Spring Fling Details (Image taken from Pizza Hut's Facebook page) 
So basically if you order this deal, and you eat like a normal person (not like 4 large & hungry guys) it will cost you Rs. 292/head (inc tax) and if you add a pitcher to it, then it's around Rs. 350/head which is pretty good value for money! If you do eat like 4 hungry guys, then you need to pay extra and order more. 

They did serve the deal to us with all four flavors with a pitcher on the side. I am not going to review the food in detail because this was an invited event where I did not pay for the food. Secondly, its Pizza Hut and I am sure that almost everyone has had Pizzas & Garlic Bread from them at some time. If someone hasn't, then they need to! Everyone has to have Pizza Hut at least once in their lives, especially our Desified Chicken Tikka. However, in short, the garlic bread was hot & crispy, the Pizza was hot, loaded with cheese and had that traditional thick crust which is a Pizza Hut trademark. I will give some additional comments on the brownie since I was wondering if it was going to be enough and it was. It is NOT one brownie, its actually one serving of chocolicious brownie (picture attached below) so two large pieces of chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce which is enough for 3-4 people. 



Overall, I really enjoyed the meet-up - the food, the company as well as the experience. There are people who say that these meetups are only a promotional gimmick and of course they are. However, it is also a good way for a company to get constructive feedback from relevant people on their campaign. I had started following Pizza Hut both on Facebook & Twitter once I got this invite, I noticed that there was a positive shift in the way that they were conducting their social media campaign. I can't be 100% sure whether it was a result of the discussion, but if it is then kudos to the team for listening to both the positive & the negative and improving on it. 

P.s. When ordering the deal, DO NOT leave the end crust! 
Being a Muslim, it is obligatory on us to finish whatever is on our plates. Additionally, think about all those less fortunate than you who don't have anything to eat. 
Anas said: “The Prophet ordered us not to leave anything in the plate and he said: “You do not know in which portion of your food Allāh has put the Barakah.”(Muslim)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Salad Greens with Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing

Please 'like' me on Facebook to keep updated with new posts, tips & tricks, or to ask me any questions: Kay's House of Treats 

Continuing on with posting recipes for salads, here's a recipe for another simple green salad with a roasted garlic dressing. With oranges going out of season, it can easily be substituted with other fruits (grapefruit, pear, or more apples). Garlic in the dressing might seem odd, but once garlic is roasted, it loses its bitter raw flavor, and becomes mild & sweet. Ever since I discovered how amazing roasted garlic is through the tomato soup I made in winters, I have been experimenting with it ever since. 
Salad Greens with Creamy Roasted Garlic Dressing

Salad Ingredients:
3-4 cups of Shredded/Cut Mild Greens (Mesclun Lettuce/Mixed Salad Greens)
1/4 cup of Rocket/Arugula
1 Apple - cut into slices (optional)
4 Oranges - cut into segments
¼ cup – ½ cup walnuts, toasted 

Dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Roasted Garlic - 2 cloves (Bake garlic in a toaster oven/oven)Lemon Zest - a pinch
salt & pepper
sumac (optional)

1. Blend the ingredients for the salad dressing in a blender for 30 seconds till it is creamy. Alternatively you can add all the ingredients and whisk for about a minute. Taste & adjust seasonings if required. 
2. Take a big salad bowl and add salad greens & rocket/arugula. You can increase/decrease the quantity of the specific type of salad green based on personal preference. Add fruits to bowl.
3.Toss the salad greens together with 2 tbsp of the dressing. Adjust and add more dressing if required.
4. Crush walnuts and then add them on top of the salad.
If you want to save the salad for the next day, then add the salad dressing & nuts individually into your plate otherwise the salad will start wilting once the dressing is added.

Playing Around:
1. Fruits: Substitute the apple for pear 
2. Citrus: Substitute the oranges for Mosambi or Grapefruit
3. Vegetables: Olives, capsicum, carrots or broccoli can be added/substituted
4. Protein: Add grilled paneer, grilled chicken or feta cheese to make it more filling
5. Nuts: Almonds or Pine-Nuts and even Peanuts can be substituted for walnuts 

Read up on my other Salad 101 blog posts below:

Resources (Salad Spinners & where to get salad greens in Karachi):
Salad Spinners are available at JB Saeed & Hyperstar (linked below) in Karachi and should also be available at other places.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=134621356576725&set=a.134621099910084.14013.129326953772832&type=3&theater

Where to get Salad Greens in Karachi:
Sungold Organic – Home delivery of Organic Vegetables
Email at Sungoldorganic@gmail.com
Sungold number, 0342-2382731, 0345-2008247:
Growing your Own – Seeds available from Crops in Pots & available from Mom’s Garden
Shops – Assortment of vegetables can be found from Agha’s, Farids, Hyperstar, Empress Market, Defence Sunday Bazaar, & a ‘Sabzi Wala’ near French Bakery at Khadda Market

Reference Books:
How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition
The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated Magazine

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guacamole

I was just checking out my blog stats and I am done to about 20-40 pageviews a day from a considerably high number earlier. Just goes to show what happens if I don't update this blog on a regular basis (Ouch). 

But I am resolving to spend a bit more time on posting recipes since I have been receiving some amazing feedback on how much my recipes are being enjoyed by people! So just motivated to share more. Will probably start writing small introductions (I will try :p), and focus more on the recipe writing. 

Before I begin with the recipe, it is a sincere appeal to all readers who have tried avocados in their life & not liked them to give this recipe a try! Yes - avocados are bland & a little bit tasteless if you try them for the first time. But use them to make Guacamole and I can guarantee that at least the majority of you will be addicted converts! 


Guacamole Dip 
(Serve with Corn Chips/Tortilla Chips)

Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste) 
1/2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1-2 Jalapeno peppers, finely chopped 
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds & pulp removed, finely chopped 
1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped) - reserve some for garnish
Tortilla Chips or Corn Chips for Serving 

Method:
1. Cut the avocado in half & remove the flesh. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh and put it in a small bowl. 
See this article on How to Cut and Peel an Avocado.
2. Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. It should still be a little bit chunky so don't overdo it. Add lemon juice and salt. Add chopped onion, jalapeno peppers, coriander leaves, and tomatoes. Mix it all up.
3. Taste & adjust seasonings if necessary. If you like it hotter then add one more jalapeno pepper.
4. Cover with plastic wrap since avocados turn black very quickly. 

Note: When buying avocados, try to get when they are still firm and then put them in a brown paper bag to ripen. There are different ways to tell if an avocado is ripe depending from variety to variety, but the best method is through gently pressing the fruit.
  • If the avocado is ripe, it will yield to a minimal amount of pressure.
  • If the avocado feels soft/mushy, then it is overripe.
  • If the avocado feels firm, it is still under ripe. 
Avocados in Karachi can be found at Agha's, Farids and Hyperstar. They are quite expensive, but the cheapest I have found so far are at Aghas (Rs. 185 for one)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Green Salad with Fruits & Nuts in a Honey-Yoghurt Dressing

Please 'like' me on Facebook to keep updated with new posts, tips & tricks, or to ask me any questions: Kay's House of Treats 

After I got the hang of the olive oil, lemon juice, yoghurt & mustard dressing, I started experimenting with something different. This time I made a salad with fruits & nuts with a honey based dressing - loved the slightly sweet dressing with the grapefruit & olives. The carrot is only there because I had one lying around so I just tossed it in the salad, but wouldn't recommend adding it otherwise.

Fresh Salad with Fruits & Nuts with Honey based dressing 

Salad Ingredients:
2-3 cups of Lettuce (Mesclun or any variety you prefer)
1/4 cup of Rocket/Arugula
¼ cup of baby spinach
1 large grapefruit
1 orange (optional – I used it because the grapefruit I had was small)
Olives – 2 to 3 tbsp
¼ cup – ½ cup walnuts, toasted

Dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper


1. Blend the ingredients for the salad dressing in a blender for 30 seconds till it is creamy. Alternatively you can add all the ingredients and whisk for about a minute. Taste & adjust seasonings if required. 
2. Dry roast nuts in a skillet for about 3-5 minutes over medium heat till they are aromatic. Keep shaking the pan so they don't burn. Alternatively, you can toast them in a toaster oven.
3. Take a big salad bowl and add lettuce leaves, baby spinach & rocket/arugula. 
You can increase/decrease the quantity of the specific type of salad green based on personal preference.
4. Add fruits & olives to the salad leaves and lightly toss with about 2-3 tbsp of the dressing. 
Taste and add more dressing if required
5. Chop & crush the nuts then add as garnish on top of the salad.  

If you want to save the salad for the next day, then add the salad dressing individually into your plate otherwise the salad will start wilting once the dressing is added.

Playing Around:
1. Fruits: Substitute the apple for pear 
2. Citrus: Substitute the oranges for Mosambi or Grapefruit
3. Vegetables: Olives, capsicum, carrots or broccoli can be added/substituted
4. Protein: Add grilled paneer, grilled chicken or feta cheese to make it more filling
5. Nuts: Add sliced toasted almonds, peanuts Toast some nuts in a dry skillet and crush & sprinkle on top

Read up on my other Salad 101 blog posts below:
Salad 101 -Tossing Greens & Adding the Salad Dressing
Salad 101 - Types of Salad Greens
Salad 101 - The Basic Salad Dressing

Where to get Salad Greens in Karachi:
Sungold Organic – Home delivery of Organic Vegetables
Email at Sungoldorganic@gmail.com
Sungold number, 0342-2382731, 0345-2008247:
Growing your Own – Seeds available from Crops in Pots & available from Mom’s Garden
Shops – Assortment of vegetables can be found from Agha’s, Farids, Hyperstar, Empress Market, Defence Sunday Bazaar, & a ‘Sabzi Wala’ near French Bakery at Khadda Market

Reference Books:
How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition
The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated Magazine

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Leafy Green Salad with Apples & Tomatoes

So now that everyone is updated on what I haven't been posting for the last couple of weeks, let me start catching up by continuing my Salad 101 posts. I have covered How-to's on Cleaning & Storing Salad Greens, Types of Salad Greens & Tossing and Adding the Dressing. Now I will FINALLY be sharing the recipes :D .. 

Since I embarked on this salad making journey, I have been experimenting with various types of greens, fruits, dressings & seasonings, and have finally achieved the balance that my family loves.

My basic rule is that salad greens will form the base of the salad, along with some fruit to provide the sweetness, along with some citrus  to provide tang. Other vegetables can be added to make the salad more filling, nuts can be added for crunch, and proteins like chicken & cottage cheese can be added to make it more of a main course than a salad. 
Fresh Salad Greens with Apples & Tomatoes
Leafy Salad Green with Apples & Tomato
Salad Ingredients:
3-4 cups of Shredded/Cut Mild Greens (Mesclun Lettuce/Mixed Salad Greens or Chinese Cabbage)
1/4 cup of Rocket/Arugula
1/4 cup of Baby Spinach
Fresh Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Oregano) - 10 to 12 leaves, roughly chopped
1 Apple - cut into slices
1 Tomato - cut into wedges
1-2 Oranges - cut into segments

Dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard
salt & pepper
sumac (optional)
Note: The dressing is also not a typical vinaigrette - I reduced the olive oil & added yoghurt for some creaminess. 

1. Toss the fruit (apples & oranges) with some lemon juice. 
2. Blend the ingredients for the salad dressing in a blender for 30 seconds till it is creamy. Alternatively you can add all the ingredients and whisk for about a minute. Taste & adjust seasonings if required. 
3. Take a big salad bowl and add salad greens, baby spinach & rocket/arugula. 
You can increase/decrease the quantity of the specific type of salad green based on personal preference.
4.
Toss the salad greens together with 2 tbsp of the dressing. Adjust and add more dressing if required.
5. 
Add apples, carrots & oranges. Add 1 tbsp of the dressing and lightly toss. 
6.Garnish with tomatoes.
If you want to save the salad for the next day, then add the salad dressing individually into your plate otherwise the salad will start wilting once the dressing is added.

Playing Around:
1. Fruits: Substitute the apple for pear 
2. Citrus: Substitute the oranges for Mosambi or Grapefruit
3. Vegetables: Olives, capsicum, carrots or broccoli can be added/substituted
4. Protein: Add grilled paneer, grilled chicken or feta cheese to make it more filling
5. Crunch: Toast some nuts in a dry skillet and crush & sprinkle on top

Read up on my other Salad 101 blog posts below:
Salad 101 -Tossing Greens & Adding the Salad Dressing
Salad 101 - Types of Salad Greens
Salad 101 - The Basic Salad Dressing

Where to get Salad Greens in Karachi:
Sungold Organic – Home delivery of Organic Vegetables
Email at Sungoldorganic@gmail.com
Sungold number, 0342-2382731, 0345-2008247:
Growing your Own – Seeds available from Crops in Pots & available from Mom’s Garden
Shops – Assortment of vegetables can be found from Agha’s, Farids, Hyperstar, Empress Market, Defence Sunday Bazaar, & a ‘Sabzi Wala’ near French Bakery at Khadda Market

Reference Books:
How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition
The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated Magazine

Update! Menu for Ordering

Hello Everyone!
I know its been a while since I posted recipes, but on immense popular demand, I started taking orders for a few items. MashAllah I am getting an amazing response and thats pretty much why I don't get any time to blog lately. There's the 9-5 pm job, then the office homework, then the taking orders & planning them out, then thinking and experimenting with future menu items, and let's not forget the actual cooking :).

However, just in case anyone thinks I am superhuman, let me clarify right now that I am not doing this alone, but together with my family (mom, dad, me, chacha, chachi) and everyone is contributing something to the menu or helping out with the business idea. 

I am going to continue with my recipes on the blog, but for those interested in the menu, its uploaded on the blog and is also updated on my Facebook page. Currently, there's a range of pickles/achaar's including some common ones like Gaajar ka Achaar (Pickled carrots in a tangy vinegar base) to new ones like Baighan ka Aachar (Eggplant Pickle) & Tamatar Shimla Mirch Aachar (Tomato & Capsicum Pickle). There are also winter favourites like Sarsoon ka Saag & Gaajar ka Halwa. For the future there will be a separate Dessert menu & a Savory menu (Desi + Continental). 

But don't worry - will start posting recipes tomorrow :)

For those who would like to try out stuff that I make, please do order and let me know if there are any suggestions for the menu :). 
Kay's House of Treats - Menu

Monday, January 13, 2014

Salad 101 - The Basic Salad Dressing

Please 'like' me on Facebook to keep updated with new posts, tips & tricks, or to ask me any questions: Kay's House of Treats
Fresh Salads tossed with various Salad Dressings
By now you should have bought, washed & mixed your salad together. The next step is deciding on the dressing and with most salad greens this is usually a type of Vinaigrette.

A vinaigrette consists three things - a good oil, acid (vinegar or lemon/lime juice) and seasonings which is combined with a chemical process known as emulsification to form a beautiful creamy dressing.

Following are basic dressings, with a few variations based on the type of salad greens that you decide to use. The standard ratio of oil to acid for a dressing is three parts oil to one part acid. For mild salad greens, a basic dressing of oil, acid & seasoning will work, however, for spicier salad greens like rocket or baby spinach, stronger flavors like mustard, garlic, onions along with some cream/yoghurt are required to complement the taste of the greens. 

But again, I will repeat the same thing - adjust the dressing based on your own preferences, and what is available in the fridge. I will be posting some recipes for salads in the future, and in almost all the recipes, I have used less oil and more yoghurt because I think the taste of extra virgin olive oil can be strong, so I would reduce from the basic recipe. Similarly, there are a number of additions and substitutions that can be made. Have included a list of basic recipes along with a list of simple additions in the end for experimenting with. 

Basic Vinaigrette for Mild Salad Greens
(Makes about 3/4 cup)
 1/2 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
3 tbsp vinegar (or lemon juice); or use 1.5 tbsp lemon juice and 1.5 tbsp vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Sugar/Honey - 1 tsp (optional)
Method:
1. Depending on type of greens used, combine all ingredients in a blender for about 30 seconds till a creamy emulsion results. You can also add all the ingredients in a bottle, and then shake vigorously or add the ingredients in a bowl and use a wire whisk to mix. 
2. Taste the dressing and adjust vinegar/lemon juice or seasonings if required.
3. Use 1 tbsp of dressing for about 2 cups of salad greens.

Basic Vinaigrette for Spicy Salad Greens
1/2 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
3 tbsp vinegar (or lemon juice); or use 1.5 tbsp lemon juice and 1.5 tbsp vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Mustard - 1 tsp
Sugar/Honey - 1 tsp
Minced Garlic - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Method:
1. Depending on type of greens used, combine all ingredients in a blender for about 30 seconds till a creamy emulsion results. You can also add all the ingredients in a bottle, and then shake vigorously or add the ingredients in a bowl and use a wire whisk to mix. 
2. Taste the dressing and adjust vinegar/lemon juice or seasonings if required.
3. Use 1 tbsp of dressing for about 2 cups of salad greens.

Basic Vinaigrette for Bitter Salad Greens
1/2 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
3 tbsp vinegar (or lemon juice); or use 1.5 tbsp lemon juice and 1.5 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp yoghurt or cream
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Mustard - 1 tsp
Sugar/Honey - 1 tsp
Minced Garlic - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Method:
1. Depending on type of greens used, combine all ingredients in a blender for about 30 seconds till a creamy emulsion results. You can also add all the ingredients in a bottle, and then shake vigorously or add the ingredients in a bowl and use a wire whisk to mix. 
2. Taste the dressing and adjust vinegar/lemon juice or seasonings if required.
3. Use 1 tbsp of dressing for about 2 cups of salad greens.

Other Simple Additions to Vinaigrettes:
The above dressings are base recipes, but you can always make additions/substitutions to them based on ingredient availability & your own taste. Sometimes I would add some lemon zest, or fresh herbs, or minced roasted garlic to leftover dressing just to change the taste. 
  1. Herbs: Herbs can be added either fresh or dried to the dressing. If using fresh, then you can add about 1/4 cup of finely chopped mild herbs like parsley, basil or oregano for 1/2 cup of olive oil. If using stronger herbs like rosemary, tarragon or thyme then use about 1 teaspoon. If using dried herbs, then start with adding 1/8 teaspoon, and then add more if required. 
  2. Fresh Garlic: Garlic flavor can be incorporated in three different ways depending on how strong you want it to be. If you want a stronger flavor, then you can mince/finely chop fresh garlic and add it in the dressing. Secondly, you can roast garlic in the oven which turns the flavor mild and sweeter. Thirdly, you can rub a mashed garlic clove around your salad bowl which will just give you a mild garlic flavor. 
  3. Honey, maple syrup or sugar: If you want the dressing to be a bit sweet, you can add sweetener of your sugar. Start off small, 1-2 teaspoon for sugar & 1 tablespoon for honey, and then adjust more based on taste.
  4. Mustard: 1 teaspoon of good quality mustard, or 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard can be added.
  5. Lemon Zest/Orange Zest: Zest of 1 lemon can be added for a lemon vinaigrette, making sure that you use lemon or lime juice for the dressing as well. Orange zest combined with fresh orange juice can also be used.
  6. Creamy Vinaigrette: Fresh or sour cream, yoghurt or mayonnaise can be used (about 3 tablespoon). Fresh cream is preferred over packaged as that has a much better flavor. 
  7. Soy Sauce: Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to give an Asian flavor to salads; best if used with Asian vegetables like spring onions, Bak Choi etc. 
Read up on my other Salad 101 blog posts below:
Salad 101 -Tossing Greens & Adding the Salad Dressing
Salad 101 - Types of Salad Greens
Salad 101 - The Basic Salad Dressing

Where to get Salad Greens in Karachi:
Sungold Organic – Home delivery of Organic Vegetables
Email at Sungoldorganic@gmail.com
Sungold number, 0342-2382731, 0345-2008247:
Growing your Own – Seeds available from Crops in Pots & available from Mom’s Garden
Shops – Assortment of vegetables can be found from Agha’s, Farids, Hyperstar, Empress Market, Defence Sunday Bazaar, & a ‘Sabzi Wala’ near French Bakery at Khadda Market

Reference Books:
How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition
The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated Magazine