Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD IN 5 MINS ...it's time to get healthy!

You all must have read about me breaking bread with some really talented people in May. But I never really got to baking those breads at home. I was unable to locate vital wheat gluten in these really big supermarkets here,I mean ,I didn't know which aisle they were and whenever I asked someone for help, they were lost too! ;-) So, I gave up my hopes of baking them very soon . But one evening me and Jobin were wandering in the vegetable section of our fave supermarket and happened to see the 'healthy' section of the store.And there it was...that vital wheat gluten I was searching for almost a month! We used to pass by that section every now and then but never really bothered to check in there! And finally Jobin was able to see that 'gluten' I had been talking about for that whole month! ;-)

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD
Recipe source: Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg
This recipe yields atleast four 1lb loaves. It can be easily doubled or halved.

Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour- 5 1/2 cups
All purpose flour, unbleached- 2 cups
Yeast-1 1/2 tbsp
Salt-1 tbsp
Vital wheat gluten-1/4 cup
Lukewarm water-4 cups
Sesame seeds- 2 tbsp

Method:
  • Measure the dry ingredients and add the warm water to it all at once and stir it with a spoon till it comes together.You might have to use your hands to get the last bits of flour together.Do not knead!
  • Cover the dough with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours you can put the dough into the refrigerator to rise overnight or atleast 3 hours. Refrigerated dough is easier to work with.
  • Once refrigerated , the dough will seem to have shrunk back upon itself.DO NOT punch down the dough.
  • On the baking day, dust the surface of the dough with some flour and pull up a chunk and cut it using a kitchen scissors.
  • Shape the dough ( you may need some flour for your hands to prevent sticking) and let it rise on a baking parchment, loosely covered with a plastic wrap, for 90 mins.
  • Thirty minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 450 F with a baking stone placed in the middle rack ( I use my regular rect.cake pan).Place another tray in the bottom shelf.
  • Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top with water. Sprinkle sesame seeds.Slash the loaf with 1/4 -inch deep parallel cuts across the top.
  • Place the bread into the oven and pour some hot water into the bottom tray and close the oven door immediately to trap the steam.
  • Bake for 30 mins until the crust is browned and firm to touch.
  • Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in a lidded (not airtight) container and use within 14 days.



Verdict:
It was an amazing experience to bake a bread without kneading.I love the fact that it is fuss-free. You just have to mix in everything together and leave it to rise! And it does rise very very well, so make sure you have a large container to hold it all. This recipe has endless possibilities too!

We just loved it...not only did it taste great but it was healthy at the same time!

This healthy bread is Yeastspotted!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A MEDITERRANEAN LOVE AFFAIR - Pita Bread,Chicken Shawarma, Garlic Sauce,Tahini & Hummus (from scratch!)


" I am so excited!!! I made it at home! I made it at home!! YEaaaaYYY!! If I can, so can you! " was my status message on Facebook for the last 2 days, and I am still excited! For those of y'all who have been wondering what line meant... here is the answer :-) I very (?) successfully made a big fat Mediterranean dinner at home...and we both loved it to the last bite.


Shawarma and my brother are thick pals, which I have mentioned in one of my previous posts too...you could also call them as chuddy buddies ;-) And I gradually got into that line too...later all 4 of us were big time fans of Shawarma sold by Cita Pani, a small restaurant very close to our home in Kannur. And whenever we waited inside our car for the delivery boy to bring in our parcel, we used to think and think and talk about how that huge chunk of chicken is hanging there or what could be that secret ingredient to make it so yummy! Never found an answer but all guesses were made...yoghurt, turmeric,chicken breast etc...

Finally, I found a source for it's recipe and I didn't let it go away!

CHICKEN SHAWARMA
Recipe slightly modified from Dede's

Ingredients:
2 boneless (skinless) chicken breasts,cut into strips
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup yoghurt
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp 7 spices ( I used 'curry powder' from the local grocery store)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red chilli powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp Olive oil
Method:
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, cover and let marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.  
  • Heat 3 tbs olive oil, add chicken and let cook for 10 minutes until chicken browns, cook for an additional 2 minutes if necessary to brown.  
  • To make sandwich, use pita bread, spread garlic sauce on pita, add chicken, kabees and pickles (you can add tomatoes and lettuce if desired). Roll sandwich and press in the grill press to make sandwich crispy for 3 minutes.  Enjoy with fries or salad. 
HOMEMADE PITA BREAD
Recipe source: Dede

Ingredients:
3 cups flour + 1 cup flour for kneading
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast (7 grams or 1/4 oz)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
Olive oil

Method:
  • In a small bowl mix yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  In a large bowl mix 3 cups flour with salt and make a well or whole in the middle.  Slowly stir in yeast mix and 1 cup warm water until well combined.
  • In a large bowl add 1 tbs olive oil and spread all over to keep dough from sticking, place dough in oiled bowl, cover with a blanket, and let sit for 3 hours in a warm place.  After 3 hours and dough has risen, add flour on to table surface and knead dough for 10 minutes, add flour to surface to keep it from sticking.  Form dough into small balls and let sit in a plate for 10 minutes.  
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Roll our balls to 1/8 inch thick and place on flat cookie sheet or pan, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly brown and dough puffs up.
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The other topic of our discussion was...What could that 'white sauce' like garlic mayonnaise be? No clue! I used to think that they must have been diluting the garlic mayo or something like that...I even wanted to ask them for the recipe...but never did! I am glad I didn't , because, now I have the recipe to a much much better tasting garlic sauce too...trust me ...it is seriously addictive!

GARLIC SAUCE
Recipe source: Dede


Ingredients:
4 cloves garlic minced with
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice ( I added less than half a 1/4 cup and found that perfect. So add to your taste.)
1 egg white


Method:
  • In a food processor add garlic minced with salt, begin processor and slowly add oil and lemon juice alternating them until gone, scape down sides intermittently.  
  • Add one to two egg whites while the processor is blending until you reach mayonnaise consistency.  Serve with chicken or meat and cover and refrigerate remainder. 
  • Lasts about a week refrigerated. 

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It's very easy for me to find Tahini in stores here, but what's the fun in buying it when you can make it at home with just 2 ingredients? So, I decided to do it from scratch, just like all the other stuff that you just saw now :-)

HOMEMADE TAHINI  
Recipe source: Dede


Ingredients: 
2 cups sesame seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Method:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F) and spread out sesame seeds on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 4-5 mins, do not let them brown.
  • Pour seeds into a food processer and add the vegetable oil and blend the seeds to a nice smooth paste.
  • Store in an air tight container in refrigerator.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is one of the best ways to use the Tahini...obviously everyone knows what that is! Hummus! This one is really a garlic-y one...my kinda stuff!

HOMEMADE HUMMUS
Recipe source: Dede

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Yogurt
1 Can Garbanzo Beans "Chick Peas"
1/2 Cup Homemade Tahini
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
2-3 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Tsp of Salt
1/4 Tsp citric acid (if you need more lemon taste)
2 Tbs water (if too thick)
3-4 Fresh Mint Leaves (optional)
2 Tbs of Fresh Parsley
1 Tsp of Cayenne Pepper or Paprika
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

Method:
  • Mix first 9 ingredients and blend until smooth and to desired thickness. 
  • Garnish with parsley, cayenne pepper and olive oil.
 
Verdict: All we both can say is, it was just an AMAZING meal! We adore the Shawarma filling...it was just too perfect! The aroma when you cook the chicken is something you really need to experience. Loved the pita bread and hummus! I have tried making Pita before, which was delicious, but this one is much easier and tension- free ;-) [The life of a food blogger! ] It was a perfect, complete, happy meal! It was a bit extraa happy for me because I solved a big puzzle of how to make 'Cita Pani' shawarma at home :-)

Will I make it again? OBVIOUSLY, Yes!! :-D



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ONION CHUTNEY...a perfect accompaniment !

I love chutneys! Be it coconut chutney,tomato n' onion chutney ,peanut chutney ...anything! I love to dip my crisp, heavily ghee-laden dosa in them and I can go on munching all day long! This is a perfect chutney to kick start or even wind up your day. The tanginess of the tamarind ,the pungent taste of the onions and the spice from the chillies will leave you craving for more!

This is a short and sweet post, because I am quite held up these days with some work at home. So, that explains why I have just 2 photographs for this post. Sometimes I have my posts loaded with pictures and some have very few. It all depends on the time I have at hand, then. I wanted to click more, but time didn't permit me to do it. Maybe, next time ;-)


ONION CHUTNEY
My own recipe


Ingredients
Red onions- 3 medium , chopped roughly
Dry red chillies-5, broken up
Tamarind paste/pulp- 1 -1 1/4 tsp (to your taste)
Salt-to taste
Urad dal- 1 tsp
Oil-3 tsp


Method:

  • Heat a pan, add in the roughly chopped onions and pan fry them (without oil) till they turn light brown.
  • In the same pan, our 1 tsp of oil and add in the broken dried red chillies and fry for 30 secs.
  • Grind the cooled onions, dried red chillies, tamarind and salt together to a fine paste.
  • Heat a pan, add in 2 tsp of oil, add in the urad dal and let it brown.
  • Add in the ground paste and cook for 2-3 mins.
  • Check for salt.
  • Serve with hot ghee dosa/idli.
Verdict: We both love it! Period.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BEEF IN RED WINE & DOUBLE GARLIC FOUGASSE...for 100,000 hits!

I am so excited today. My bloggie was visited 100,000 times in the last 7 months! I wish I installed that widget to track the no.of visitors per day when I started my blog. But, I absolutely didn't know anything about all these then, expect to write, upload pics and publish the post :)

I am proud of my blog :) Jobin & I were counting the visitors every day till a few hours ago when it actually hit 100,000. He took me out for dinner last night as a part of our li'l celebration :) I must say, that was some real good Chinese food I have had in US.


Last night before I went to sleep, I checked the status and I was short of 600 visitors. I prayed and prayed that it shouldn't hit 100,000 while I was sleeping. And God did hear to  my prayer...


I didn't leave my computer aside for more than 5 minutes at a stretch, because everytime I checked the status, it was increasing by 45-50 . I was constantly over the phone with Jobin, asking him to check . Aaaaand finalllyyyy I hit it! Yeaaayyy! I called home and told my mom as she was the one who picked up the call :) I had been updating them everyday and Appan need not be updated as he checks my blog every single day :)


A few days back I made some yummy beef and bread and I told him that I am not posting this till I hit 100,000.So here it is:
BEEF IN RED WINE 
My own recipe


Ingredients:

Beef (your favourite cut) : 1 lb,cut into 2" long strips or 1" thickness
Soy sauce-3-4 tbsp
Pepper powder-2 tsp
Onions-2 medium ,finely chopped
Garlic -3 large cloves, crushed
Salt-to taste
Red wine- 1 cup


Method:
  • Wash and clean the meat and marinate it with soya sauce, pepper and salt for 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Next day,pressure cook the meat till done. Do not discard the stock.
  • Heat oil in heavy bottomed pan and add the onions and saute till soft and translucent. 
  • Add in the crushed garlic  and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the cooked beef and mix well. Let it cook for 5 mins.
  • Check for salt. Add in some soya sauce if you want some more.
  • Reduce the flame to low, add in the wine and cook for 20-30 mins.
  • Serve hot with bread.
 DOUBLE GARLIC FOUGASSE
Recipe source: A passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of warm water
5 tsp rapid rise yeast *
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 cups bread flour ( I used all purpose flour)
Salt & Pepper
1 tsp approx. dried Italian seasoning ( I used oregano)
4-6 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup garlic infused olive oil ( I used EVOO)
1 cup small chunks of Parmesan ( optional)


Method:
  • Hand whisk water & yeast and let stand 2-3 minutes.Briskly whisk in sugar ,salt ,oil and most of the flour.Knead on lowest speed for 5-8 minutes and form a soft dough.
  • Oil the dough, cover and let rise for 45-50 minutes. ( *If you are using the regular yeast and not rapid rise, increase your rising time to1 1/2 hours). 
  • Meanwhile assemble the filling ingredients.Divide it into 3 portions.
  • Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate.Pat out a 12" round .
  • Smear dough with salt,pepper, Italian seasoning,minced garlic,garlic powder,2-4 tsp of garlic oil and cheese.
  • Roll up and rest for 5 minutes. Then roll out into a 10" and repeat seasoning.
  • Let rest for 10-15 minutes and roll out tnto 12-15" round or oval. 
  • Place on a parchment paper, smear seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper and oil. Cut three lines thorough the dough and open them up. Cover the pan loosely with a clingwrap and let it rise for 30 minute.
  • Bake at 375 deg.F for 35 minutes.

Verdict:
I am a HUGE fan of anything-garlic so I loved this bread.The bread had a beautiful crust and tasted fabulous. Jobin ate a good share and he really liked it too, especially the beef. He actually had a small portion of rice along with it. We went out for a drive after our dinner that day and both of us were kind of sleepy...maybe I added a bit too much wine in the meat :) So if you think 1 cup is too much for 1lb of meat, please modify the recipe to suit your taste.


My Double Garlic Fougasse is Yeastspotted!

Monday, June 7, 2010

TIRAMISU CAKE IN A CUP...for A Sweet Punch! #1


Remember A Sweet Punch? No? I think you should know what it is :-) Well, it is a baking group started by Divya,Maria & Myself and since it was my brainchild, I got to choose the recipe for our first month. I chose Tiramisu Cake by Dorie Greenspan. It was something that I have made many times before, so that perfectly fitted the bill of tried, tested & trusted recipe.Since the recipe is already on my blog, I am just posting a final picture of how I made it...I piled it all in individual sized glasses.

You can see all the beautiful creations by our members in 2-3 days time at our official blog .

If you want to be a part of our group, drop us an email  at  asweetpunch AT gmail DOT com and we can carry on from there!

Friday, June 4, 2010

COCONUT-TOMATO PULAO & KASHMIRI CHICKEN... 100 days of togetherness


This post was due long back, but it never happend. We just completed our 100 days of togetherness  a few days ago and I made this rice and chicken curry to celebrate it. I thought of giving sweets and desserts a break for that day :-) I needed more curry & rice! :)

These days I am quite busy with a handful of photography projects and recipe development and I feel that I am neglecting my blog. Today was one such day, being held up in the kitchen for most part of the day. Usually after lunch, I sit back and relax watching cookery videos on the web. But today, I thought of writing up a post before someone asks me 'why don't you blog more often?'. I would dread such a question anyday!


Now that my birthday has come and gone and I have my feet firm back on the ground, I am back to the same old routine at home. Sometime's I feel I need to change the way I cook, introduce a lot more fun ingredients and methods. But, at the same time, I am sometimes very skeptical about me liking it.It's because I rarely like to eat what I cook .For all those who are looking for a new,simple recipe for curry and rice, try this out, I am sure you all would like it. If I cooked it and I liked it, I am sure you all would agree with me :)

COCONUT -TOMATO PULAO

Ingredients:

Basmathi rice-1/2 kg (when I measured it was 3 1/2 cups for me)
Tomatoes-1/2 kg
Thick coconut milk *-of 1/2 a coconut
Butter-50 g
Cardamom, Cinnamon,Peppercorn,Bayleaf-5g each
Onions-200g,chopped
Garlic and green chilli paste-1 tbsp each
Salt-to taste
Coriander leaves-1 small bunch



Method:
  • Blanch the tomatoes , puree it in a blender and mix it with the coconut milk.[This mixture should be double the quantity of rice i.e; 7 cups]
  • Heat the pan and melt butter. Add the whole spices to it and cook for 30 secs.
  • Add in the onions,green chilli and garlic paste and saute it till soft.
  • Add in the rice and fry for 2-3 mins.
  • Pour in the tomato-coconut milk mixture ,check for salt and cook till done.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot!
 * I buy canned coconut milk and I find it very very strong. So I usually use 1/4 cup of canned coconut milk and add 11/4 cups of water to  make it a total of 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk.So if you are using canned coconut milk, adjust it according to your taste.

KASHMIRI CHICKEN


Ingredients:

1.Chicken-1 kg, cut and cleaned
   Turmeric powder-1 tsp
   Salt-to taste
2.Oil-1/2 cup
3.Onions-2 cup, chopped
4.Garlic paste-1 tbsp
   Ginger paste-1 tsp
5.Red chilli powder-1tsp
   Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
   Cumin seeds-1/2 tsp
   Fenugreek seeds-1/4 tsp
6.Tomatoes-1 cup,chopped
7.Cashewnut paste-1 tbsp (soak 1 tbsp nuts in warm water for 10 mins and grind to a smooth paste)
8.Garam masala-1 tsp
9.Water-1 cup (or as much as you need)


Method:
  • Marinate chicken pieces with turmeric and salt.
  • Grind no.5 ingredients to a smooth paste.Mix it in 1/4 cup water and set aside.
  • Heat oil, add no.3 & 4 and saute it.
  • Add the ground masala ,mix well and cook till raw smell goes.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook till oil separates from the masala.
  • Add in the cashewnut paste and salt to taste. Give it a quick mix.
  • Add in the chicken pieces and cook till done. 
  • Add 1 cup of water and cook till done.
  • Add in garam masala and give it a final mix and serve.
Verdict:

This was seriously good stuff! That's all I can say. The flavours were unique and subtle.The coconut milk just boosts up the flavours of the rice.The chicken curry was creamy and delicious .I love adding ground cashewnut to the curry, because it lends a nice creamy texture and also lends a beautiful taste.


Will I make it again? Of course,Yes! :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FINNEGAN'S CHOCOLATE CREAM CAKE...for me from him :)


Baking a cake is so much fun, I have been seeing my Mom and Sister bake cake ever since I was a child. My Mom was well known for her Christmas cake and Lamingtons in the place I grew up. My Sister took up baking as a subject and won the President of India's award for baking. Though I never baked a cake all my life, the closest I came to baking a cake was to stir the ingredients, that’s how my Mom used to motivate me. Stir well and you get a yummy cake. As a child I used to always think the women in my family were the best bakers, and it turned out to be true, my wife is an amazingly wonderful baker. I am sure there are many people who stand as a testimony for my Ria’s baking skills. That’s just another reason to have Ria as my life partner.

Ria turned 25!! Yeah 25 this year, a milestone in one’s life. I think that’s a better way to calculate you are getting old. When asked what she needed for her birthday, one of her wishes were to have me bake a cake for her birthday. My reply was an instant yes, at that time I dint know what I just signed up for. And till a couple of days before she turned 25, she again reminded me about the cake. The only thing I was a little apprehensive about was how do I mix the ingredients? Very soon I realized Ria has all the fancy tools to bake a cake. So there I was all ready to make it for her. I dint have to bother about what cake to make as Ria figured it all out.

Finnegan’s chocolate cream cake is what I made, this is not a regular chocolate cake, but this is something which just melts in your mouth. The cake calls for the usual ingredients along with Irish cream, and chocolate chips.  Detailed ingredients are given below. Ria loved this cake and that’s all I wanted. I am glad I was able to bake this for her. Though I don’t see myself baking regularly, I am ready for her next birthday for another round. I enjoyed baking and had a wonderful day with Ria on her Birthday.  I hope you bake this as well and have a good time enjoying it.

FINNEGAN'S CHOCOLATE CREAM CAKE
Recipe Source: A passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman, pg:236

Ingredients:
For the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups brewed warm coffee
1/3 cup Irish cream liqueur or milk

Chocolate Cream Glaze
3/4 cup whipping cream/fresh cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur or strong coffee

Method:
Cake:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg.F. Generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan or a 10" tube pan with shortening. 

  • In a mixer bowl, cream butter with both sugars.Then add eggs and vanilla. Blend on low speed for 1 minute until smooth. Add flour,cocoa,baking powder,baking soda and salt. Stir briefly ;then drizzles in coffee and Irish Cream, stirring at the same time to make a smooth,somewhat loose batter.


  • Spoon batter into prepared pan.Bake 55-65 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertips. Cool cake well and then invert onto a serving platter.


Chocolate Cream Glaze:

  • Bring whipping cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Add chocolate chips,reduce temperature to low and whisk to blend and melt chocolate.Add Irish Cream .
  • Remove from heat after 1-2 minutes and stir until smooth.Let cool to room temperature before using.If you cannot glaze right away, refrigerate glaze and gently rewarm and then drizzle over cake.



Verdict:
What more can I ask for? This was truly one of the best birthday's I have ever had! This one had many highlights: Me hitting quarter century, my first birthday with Jobin and Jobin baking his first cake...that too for me! I absolutely loved the cake and the whole experience is precious.I will cherish this all my life!To another happy quarter! :)
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