May 29, 2009

Multigrain Seed Rolls


I remember reading about someone saying that "Some multigrain bread is better suited to propping open a door than making a sandwich"! My one and only attempt at baking multigrain bread seemed to, more or less, prove this theory.
Then Rachel of Tangerine's Kitchen announced she was hosting this month's Bread Baking Day themed "wholegrain bread"! I have been otherwise busy for most of this month and I didn't really want to complicate things with a wholegrain bread experiment which I was almost sure wouldn't turn out right.

But it was BBD and a good friend was hosting it, so I found the time to bake some wholegrain bread. While this attempt didn't produce a doorstop, but a reasonably moist if slightly dense loaf, it tasted awful. And I am not doing full justice to the bread when I say "awful"!!

I followed a recipe (accompanied by a temptingly beautiful picture) I found on the net that used cracked wheat, oats, corn and powdered flax seed. I'm not sure where things went wrong but I'll just wrap up this experience by mentioning that the bread went into the bin.
Not only was my multigrain bread a fiasco, I also felt terrible wasting food.





I do like multigrain bread, but there's not much point in making something that no one else (read my husband and daughter) wants to eat, even though it's healthy. But being the eternal optimist I am, I was sure there had to be a recipe somewhere for baking multigrain bread that tasted good. And third time is supposed to be lucky, I've heard.

So I played safe (better safe than sorry, I thought) and tried out these rolls (well, two grains and a third grain flour counts for multigrain, doesn't it?) which I slightly adapted from this Multigrain Bread and this post contains my version.




I am happy to report that these rolls were very soft and tasty (and healthy too), totally unlike what I have come to expect wholegrain bread to be. I had this concept of a more dense and slightly heavy bread whenever multigrain bread is mentioned.


Ingredients:

1/2 cup water, warm
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp active dry yeast*
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour, maybe a little more if necessary
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tbsp oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp melon seeds
1 1/2 tsp flax seeds

*My sister had brought me some yeast from the U.S., which said "especially for whole grain flours" on the sachet.


Method:

Mix the honey in the warm water, and dissolve the yeast in it and allow it to proof (about 5 to 10 minutes).
Soak the rolled oats in the milk and keep aside for about 15 minutes
Put all remaining dry ingredients in a food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to blend well. This can be done by hand too, if you prefer.

(I usually do this in the processor but the lid of my processor bowl cracked and is still in the process of being replaced. So my daughter stepped in and helped out with the kneading this time.)
Add the oil, oat-milk mixture and the yeast mixture and pulse (or knead) until the dough just comes together as a rough ball. Now scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and add the seeds.

Knead a few times, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if dough is too sticky to work with. Knead till the dough is smooth yet very slightly sticky yet manageable. Shape into a ball.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise till double in volume (about an hour or so).

Now deflate the dough by pressing and pushing with your wrist and fold the dough over on itself a few times and allow to rise again, for about 1/2 an hour.
Take the dough and flatten it slightly to remove any air bubbles and divide it into 6 (or 8 for smaller rolls) portions. Shape into rolls (this dough lent itself to decoratively shaping the rolls). If you prefer, you can shape this dough into plain rolls or even one single loaf.

Place on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise till double. If you have made plain rolls or a loaf, you might like to slash them decoratively, using a sharp knife, at this point. Just ensure they don't get deflated while slashing.
Bake the rolls at 190C for about 40 minutes or till the rolls sound hollow when tapped.

These are off to Rachel for BBD #20 and to Susan for YeastSpotting!

Thank you Parita, Ria and Di_ani for thinking of my blog to bestow those awards upon. Your gestures are very much appreciated.


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May 27, 2009

Apple Strudel (a.k.a. Apfelstrudel) and a Samosa-Style Strudel: Daring Baker Challenge May 2009


Do you remember the song from the Sound of Music that goes "Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens…….."?
I first heard that song when I was in school and that was my introduction to apple strudel. Of course, I didn't really know what apple strudel was then (or many of the other things mentioned in the song) except it was something with apples in it. And in those days, apples were as foreign to us as the strudel, given that I grew up in tropical countries (apples were rare in south India too) where apples were never seen.

Then the May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of Make Life Sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.




In the many years since, I have filled in some of those above mentioned gaps in my knowledge but have still never seen or eaten an apple strudel even though apples are very commonplace here nowadays. So when this month's challenge was unveiled, it was the perfect opportunity for me to bridge one more gap!
The additional bonus was that I didn't have to worry about eggs or too much butter.

In true Daring Baker challenge traditions, our hosts gave us a lot of creative freedom to use fillings of our choice. The only requirement this month was that the strudel dough be prepared using the given recipe.
The detailed recipe can be printed out at the end of this post.


My Strudel Experience:

I made a sweet version with the given recipe for apple strudel and a savoury strudel with a samosa style filling.
I really do not have much to say about this challenge other than it was quite easy for me, though stretching the dough out thin was initially difficult.
I got around this by dividing the dough into 2 portions and working on one at a time, to make the savoury and sweet strudels. It is unbelievable how thin this dough can really be stretched out. For a really good strudel the the dough should be so thin you should be able to read through it!




For the samosa filling:

Ingredients:


1 onion, chopped fine
3 to 4 medium sized potatoes, mashed somewhat well
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
3/4 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup green peas
1 to 2 tbsps chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste


Method:

Add 2 tbsp of water and mix well. Add the peas, cabbage, carrots and the salt and stir fry till they're cooked. Now add the potatoes and the chopped coriander. Mix well and turn off the heat.
Add the lemon juice and mix well. Allow to cool and use in the strudel.


Serve the samosa style strudel with sweet and sour tamarind and date chutney.


Verdict:

When the strudel came out of the oven, it was quite crisp layers of paper thin dough wrapped around a moist apple filling. Once it had cooled down a bit the outer layers lost their crispness and became a bit soft. This, I believe, is usual.
Heat the oil and sauté the onions till soft. Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders and sauté for a minute.




My savoury version was nice, but I think we definitely prefer our samosa filling in samosas and that strudel is best with a sweet filling. I'm not an expert here and this is just my opinion.

My first thought when I tasted the apple strudel was that it tasted like another version of apple pie. This was okay since my husband and I like apple pie, though our daughter prefers to differ in this matter.

I guess, in my imagination I had built up the apple strudel to be something very exotic and felt a bit let down, but to be honest if I wasn't comparing it to anything else this is a delicious yet light dessert.
If you feel like making it richer, serve it warm with ice-cream.

Please don't forget to visit my fellow Daring Bakers' strudels too.



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May 25, 2009

Italian Bread Knots (Pane Di Pasta Tenera Condita)

There is a group of food bloggers who call themselves the "Bread Baking Babes" (a.k.a. BBB) and they get together every month to bake bread, naturally, and I have been watching their monthly efforts for a while now. I guess my love for baking bread (and eating it too) isn't much of a secret and this month I am baking with them.
While the BBB membership is limited to the original members, they welcome anyone who would like to bake with them, following their chosen recipe and become what they call a "Bread Baking Buddy".
I'm not sure I would describe myself as a "babe", but a "buddy" I can most definitely be!

This month's challenge, chosen by Ilva of Lucullian Delights, is to bake Italian Bread Knots (Pane Di Pasta Tenera Condita). She chose this from Pane: Il Piacere di Preparare in Casa by Anna Gennari.




I followed the halved recipe used by another BBB, Lien of Notitie van Lien which I have re-posted here (my changes/ substitutions are within brackets throughout the recipe). The only flours I get here are all purpose and whole wheat flours, so I used all purpose flour. Since we are vegetarian, I substituted butter for lard.

I also found I required a little more flour than mentioned to make sure my dough was smooth, elastic and not sticky.



Ingredients:


Biga:

200 g normal bread flour (I used all purpose flour)

5 g fresh yeast or 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast (I used about 1/4 tsp active dry yeast)

170 ml water


Dissolve the yeast in a little water (warm) and quickly work the dough together.

Put it in a container, cover it with a half closed lid or kitchen towel and leave it for 15-24 hrs (overnight for about 12 hours).


Dough:


250 g biga

500 g flour -type 00 (I used all purpose flour)

200-260 ml water, handwarm

15 g fresh yeast or 1 1/2 tsp dry instant yeast (I used 1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast)

25 g extra-virgin olive oil

30 g lard (I used chilled salted butter)

12 g honey

12 g salt



Method:


Put the flour either in a big bowl or on a baking board, add the lard (or chilled butter) and mix it with your fingers until it has 'crumbled' and is completely mixed with the flour.

Dissolve the yeast in little tepid water and add it to the flour. Mix as well as you can.

Mix salt, olive oil and honey with the handwarm water and add it to the flour. Now work it until it holds together and then add the biga.

Work the dough until it is smooth and doesn't stick.

Put it into a big bowl, cover it with plastic film and leave to rise until it has doubled.

Now take up the dough and divide it into 12 equal parts and roll them it into long strands (about 30-35 cm)



To make the knots:




1. Roll out the dough into even long strands and lay them out on a flat surface.

2. Make a semi-circle with the dough strands, and bring the ends towardsyou and cross them.

3. Then twist the two ends together a twice, like inthe photo, somewhat like when shaping a pretzel.




4. Now lift the upperpart of the circle and bring it towards you, folding it over the twisted part.

5. Tuck the two ends of the twisted part under the knot carefully, while lifting the roll from the working surface. This will make the knot part more prominent and it hides the ends.


Put the knots on baking sheets and leave to rise (covered) until they have doubled in size (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Bake in a 200°C/390°F (I baked at 210C for 30 minutes) for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.





Verdict:


These rolls were very easy to make. Shaping the rolls took a little practice but wasn't too difficult. The rolls were a bit crusty with a very soft crumb and absolutely delicious. I would recommend trying out these rolls, and wouldn't be surprised if they became a family favourite.

Serve them with soup or make them into sandwiches, perhaps. Slather them with butter and jam or just eat them as they are, fresh from the oven, with a cup of coffee or tea. They're delicious whichever way you choose to eat them and if you have any leftovers, these rolls freeze very well.
These Italian knotted rolls are being YeastSpotted!



And here's my Bread Baking Buddy badge for the month.




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May 9, 2009

Chilled Watermelon Juice/ Soup/ Granita: The Perfect Summer Cooler


Here is yet another antidote for the heat of the summer. Along with mangoes, this also the season for various varieties of thirst quenching cucumbers, musambi (sweet lime), and watermelons. We do get two varieties of watermelon here, a lighter green one which is a light to medium shade of pink on the inside and a darker green watermelon which is dark pink to an almost ruby red colour inside.

Right now, it seems to be the season for the lighter coloured variety. It is a common sight to find small Egyptian pyramid-like mounds of watermelon for sale, stacked on the sides of the road.
Whatever the colour these sweet watermelons are, they are a great and tasty way to keep quench a summer thirst. If just biting into crisp juicy slices of this fruit begin to feel monotonous, there are other many ways to have your watermelon and eat (or drink) it.






Here are a couple of ways we have out watermelons. These recipes are very flexible and you can add or subtract ingredients according to your taste.


Ingredients:

about half a fresh water melon, cut into chunks
juice of 1 sweet lime (musambi)
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger juice
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chaat masala (optional)


OR

about half a fresh water melon, cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 cup orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp rose syrup
freshly crushed pepper
5 to 6 torn mint leaves
3/4 tsp salt


Method:

If you chill the watermelon chunks and then blend them, you can serve this cooler almost immediately, when the flavours are very fresh which would be the best way to serve this.
Whatever your set of accompanying ingredients, put them along with the water melon chunks and blend till a smooth homogenous mixture is obtained.
If you do not like the grainy texture of mixture, strain and serve. Do add sugar if you feel your watermelon isn't sweet enough.
You can serve this in a glass as a drink or in a bowls as a chilled fruit soup. If you freeze this mixture, you can serve it as granita.






If you prefer ice in your cold drinks, adding ice to these watermelon coolers only dilutes them and makes them taste awful. Here are two suggestions to overcome this:
- You can pour out a couple of glasses of the watermelon concoction into ice trays and freeze them for use in these, instead of ice.
- You can also chill the watermelon cooler in the freezer for about halfan hour to an hour till the top layer just freezes. Break this layer, mix and serve this slush-like mixture.

This recipe makes enough for 3 to 4 tall glasses.

The only thing about watermelons I don't like is trying to cut them into chunks without wasting the pulp yet getting rid of the seeds! So if any one has some time tested method of chunking watermelon without agonizing over those pesky black seeds, I shall be grateful to hear your suggestions.


I shall be conspicuous by my absence here and at all my regular blogs and others for the next two weeks or so. We're off on a trip back home for a short break. It will not be much of a vacation as we will be going to attend to some family related matters, but a break is a break.
So see you all at the end of May.

Also featured by Chicago Sun-Times




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May 8, 2009

Tried And Tasted, April 2009: The Round-up




As announced, Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen was in the spotlight for April's Tried And Tasted. All the submissions are in and I am happy to have introduced some of the participating bloggers to Lisa's wonderful vegetarian blog which I have been following for a while now. I hope you all enjoyed browsing through her recipe collection as much as I did.



There were 33 submissions and here is a straightforward compilation, in no particular order, of "who cooked what" from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen.
A big thanks to all of you who took the time and effort to participate in this edition of Zlamushka's event, making it a success.

Note: For each entry mentioned below, the link from each blogger's blog (name of the blog) will take you to their respective T&T posts, while the link from the name of their dish will take you to Lisa's original post on her blog.

Mahima (Tokyo, Japan) of Olives & Basil : Mixed Marwadi Dal



Parita (Basel, Switzerland) of Parita's World : Cabbage In A Chana Dal Sauce



Pavani (New Jersey, U.S.) of Cook's Hideout : Mushroom Pilaf



Pavani (New Jersey, U.S.) of Cook's Hideout : Black Bean And Corn Bake



Sweatha (India) of Tasty Curry Leaf : Black Eyed Pea Patties with Chili Sauce



Yasmeen (Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.) of Healthnut : Mushroom Quesadillas



Zlamushka (Copenhagen, Denmark) of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen : Fresh Chunky Salsa



Zlamushka (Copenhagen, Denmark) of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen : Quinoa Oats Croquettes



Zlamushka (Copenhagen, Denmark) of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen : Best Ever Mushroom Sauce



Zlamushka (Copenhagen, Denmark) of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen : Guacamole



Zlamushka (Copenhagen, Denmark) of Zlamushka's Spicy Kitchen : Cabbage Poriyal




Poornima (California, U.S.) of Tasty Treats : Paneer With Tomatoes, Mushroom and Chickpeas




TBC (U.S.) of The Budding Cook : Fudgy Brownies


Usha (New York, U.S.) of My Spicy Kitchen : Black and Yellow Chickpeas in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce




Srimathi (San Diego, California, U.S.) of Few Minute Wonders : Baked Strawberry Pancake




Srimathi (San Diego, California, U.S.) of Few Minute Wonders : Paneer Tikka Masala




Soma (Texas, U.S.) of eCurry : Spicy Tomato Mushroom Rice with Fresh Mint




Rekha (Abu Dhabi, U.A.E) of Plantain Leaf : Cashew Rice With Diced Potatoes




Rachel (India) of Tangerine's Kitchen : Rice With Paneer And Peas




Preeti (Bangalore, India) of Khaugiri : Gingered Tomato Sauce




Priya (Paris, France) of Priya's Tasty N Easy Recipes : Baked Strawberry Pancakes




Priya (Paris, France) of Priya's Tasty N Easy Recipes : Spicy Chickpeas And Potato Curry




Priya (Paris, France) of Priya's Tasty N Easy Recipes : Chickpeas With Coconut Sauce



Nivedita (India) of Nivedita's Kitchen : Cabbage Poriyal




Madhumathi (Chidambaram, Tamilnadu, India) of Madhu's Food Journal : Baked Coconut Mango Pancakes




Ksenia (Barcelona, Spain) of Tales Of A Spoon : Canellini Bean Sauce and Herbed Tomato Bean Sauce Over Carrot Rice & Spicy Indian Cabbage And Green Peas




Graziana (Italy) of ErbeIn Cucina (Cooking With Herbs) : Chickpeas With Amchoor



Jamie (Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.) of Flavor Pantry : Green Tea Curry And Rice




Ivy (Athens, Greece) from Kopiaste… To Greek Hospitality : Kalamata Olives And Feta Cheese Muffins




Asha (North Carolina, U.S.) of Foodie's Hope : Moong In Coconut Milk Soup




A&N (Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.) Delectably, Yours : Mung-Tamarind Dal




And the final submissions to this round-up, Black And Yellow Chickpeas In A Sweet And Spicy Sauce,




and some Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies are from my (diverse) kitchen.



I believe I have included all the entries I received, in this round-up. If you have sent me an entry and do not find it here, please leave the link to your T&T post in the comment section of this post and I will include it at the earliest.


Next month's Tried And Tasted is being hosted by Vaishali at Holy Cow! And the blog being featured there is Susan's Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen.




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