Tag: bread

Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

It’s that time of the month again- the Secret recipe Club time. Amanda from Amanda’s Cookin’ started this fun club as a way to try other recipes and help introduce bloggers to each others’ blogs. Every month, each member is assigned another member’s blog and he/she has to try and post about a recipe from that person’s blog. My assigned blog for this month was Heather’s Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks.

Heather has a great blog with a lovely collection of recipes. She is a special education teacher and loves reading and of course, cooking. Occasionally she also posts reviews of the books she reads as part of her book club. Though she likes cooking, but baking is where her heart lies, much like me. So it had to be a baking recipe of hers that I decided to give a try.

I haven’t made bread for the longest time ever- been too lazy- not too lazy to make bread but extremely lazy to clean up after the baking is done. I hate that part of doing anything in the kitchen. I do not mind the cooking or baking but hate the utensils that pile up after I cook or bake, and that makes me lazy to make anything. And, being careless as I am, I make a whole lot of mess in the kitchen while I am at it, so the clean up just puts me off before even starting. But Heather’s Jalapeno Cheddar bread caught my eye and I knew this was what I wanted to make. So out with the lazy bones.

The only change I made to Heather’s recipe is that I substituted a part of the bread flour with whole wheat and reduced the cheese used to 1 cup instead of 1 1/2 cups (I love cheese but sadly, my waist and hips don’t)

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Mark Bittman’s No-Work Bread

A mother is a person who seeing there

are only four pieces of pie for five people,

promptly announces

she never did care for pie.

~Tenneva Jordan

I read this quote a few days back and found it so true. It sums up every mother so well! And especially mine!

Happy Mother’s Day mom! I hope you know how much you mean to me.

Love you and sorry for all the trouble I keep giving you!

 You will always be the best human being for me.

Hope one day I can sacrifice my piece of pie for you. Till then, here’s a whole bread for you!

I recently downloaded Mark Bittman’s iPhone app, How to Cook Everything. And, the first recipe that caught my eye was Jim Lahey’s No- Work Bread.  Quoting Bittman, who used to write the food column The Minimalist for the New York Times, the introduction for this bread goes as follows:

This innovation- the word “recipe” does not do the technique justice- came from Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. Jim has created a way for home cooks (and not even ones who are serious bakers) to nearly duplicate an artisan bakery loaf, with a crackling crust, open-holed crumb, light texture, and fantastic flavor. All without kneading, fancy ingredients, or special equipments.

Bittman’s description is bang on target. The beauty of this bread- it needs no kneading- you just mix everything together- sit it out in the refrigerator or outside if the temperatures are cool- take it out the next day, shape into a ball and let it bake! And you have a crusty, heavenly smelling bread. A wet dough, along with slow fermentation is the secret to its yeasty flavor and open crumb.

You do need to plan ahead for this bread. It is a 24- hour long process, but you would be in the kitchen for only 15 minutes working on it.

The method involves the bread to be baked in a covered pot in the oven. One could use a dutch oven but I do not own one. I used a crock pot. The crockpot website says that if the pot/crock is detachable you can use it in the oven. Instead of the lid I used aluminium foil. It worked for me but you should try it at your own risk!

True to myself, I goofed up while transferring the dough to the crock pot. But, you guys be careful and keep the seam up, to get a beautiful crack on the top of the bread. So that you can brag about how professional you have become at bread making!

I have made the basic version, which makes a fantastic bread, but of course, you can  be more adventurous with the  formula and use whole-wheat and other flours and different seeds to make it to your liking.

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MILK LOAF & A LOOK AT “GOD’S OWN COUNTRY” KERALA

I have been MIA yet again, missed Easter celebrations too (hope y’all had a great Easter day). These disappearing acts are all thanks to traveling but now my close-to-three-months long India vacation is over and hopefully, jet lag permitting I should be more regular with my posts!

After a very, very long plane journey from Kerala to Phoenix, and then a four hour drive to our town, I am finally at home, back to V- back to married life, back to keeping the home clean, doing the dishes, washing clothes (though the excuse of jetlag is keeping me from doing any of that)!

I must say, that V has kept the house pretty pretty clean. Much cleaner than what I would expect from a guy. Barring the kitchen, I think everything has been pretty much under control. I also got home to flowers (I know- awwww…) and wait for it…..a Macbook! V surprised me with a new laptop for me- an anniversary cum valentine cum his bonus gift :)! (Hmmm….I hope this was not his way of showing how happy he was to have me away for such a long time and the gift was a way to thank me for the peace he had while I was away =/)


Either ways I am a happy girl! And this post comes to you from my new Mac! It is so white that I actually washed my hands before using it.  I am still getting used to the changes. A lot of the Windows OS functions do not work on Mac and I need to figure that out. But its a good thing – that would keep me busy for a while. I need something to keep me occupied. Even though it feels great to be back, I miss home. I miss the hustle bustle in India- the oh so many people- crowded streets, markets- it is just so empty in the US! I am eagerly waiting for my Friday coffee morning now- and catching up with my gang of girls after what seems likes ages.

I am still reeling under my India trip hangover. The last few days in Kerala with my parents were great. I have fallen in love with Kerala food. We had the most amazing prawn curry and king prawns at this resort in Kovalam called Uday Samudara. We had our table right at the beach, which was perfect. The beautiful sea breeze and the noise of the waves splashing made a delicious meal even more special.

I also got a chance to go on a Lion Safari. There is a small national park near Neyyar dam in Kerala where the lions are kept in their natural habitat. We saw two lioness’ and one lion up close from our bus. It was pretty exciting! After that we went to a crocodile farm, but it was sad to see the way the crocodiles were kept in cages. I did notice that crocodiles are pretty lazy reptiles. They just lie around half immersed in water and stay still the whole day. What a life!

But the best part of my Kerala trip, besides the ayurvedic massages, was the trip to the Duke Forest Lodge. Its a 130-acre Rubber plantation and is home to various spice trees and plants including cocoa, vanilla, coffee, cardamom, cloves, pepper, nutmeg. Unfortunately, the vanilla blooming season starts in June so I could not get my hand on any vanilla pods, but the manager told us that in June-July the whole estate smells of Vanilla when the green Vanilla flowers turn black. Its a lovely time to visit the estate.

The manager showed us around the estate, giving us small tidbits now and then.

At the lodge they also grow cacao trees- yes, the trees that give us cocoa, the key ingredient for chocolate, chocolate which is something that most of us can not do without. The Cacao fruit pulp is white and if you suck on them they taste like custard apple. The beans along with the pulp are fermented and then dried, where the pulp trickles off, leaving behind the cocoa beans. The cocoa beans are then shipped off where they are processed to make cocoa powder, cocoa butter, nibs and the likes.

The Lodge is perched in a Rubber plantation. They have about 3000 rubber trees and a good rubber tree gives about 2 bowls of latex sap daily. Each bowl sells for about Rs 80 (roughly $1.50), so it is quite a profitable business for the lodge. The Duke Forest Lodge also is a beautiful place to stay if you plan a trip to Kerala. They have 14-day packages where the stay includes yoga, ayurvedic massages and detoxification meals. They have villas with Jacuzzis and of course, you have the added benefit of being surrounded by spices of all kinds.

And if you are in Kerala, you have to visit the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, which is an architectural wonder. There is a dress code there though- the men have to the Kerala Mundu (white Dhoti- piece of white cloth wrapped around the legs), and keep their chest bare.  The women need to be dressed in a sari. Both the dresses are available for hire or to buy near the temple.

Also one should not miss a ride in the backwaters of Allepey-Kovalam, a trip to the tea plantations in Munnar (unfortunately, my Munnar trip did not happen this time) and the Jewish synagogue, the Kathakali performances, the Chinese net in Cochin. And while you are doing all this, do not forget to feast on the local Kerala cuisine- appam and stew, Kerala parantha, prawn curry, fish curry, coconut water– just thinking about it makes my mouth water. As souvenirs pick up spices from the local markets. In Thiruvananthapuram, you could also go to Sarwaa, in Sasthamangalam where handmade products, organic and ayurvedic ware cover a good part of the shop.

There are a lot of other places to cover in Kerala but these are the ones that I have visited and would recommend.

And since you all have been so patient reading while I have been blabbering non stop, I am posting a recipe too. Its been long since I made a 100% flour recipe and god I miss such breads. Of course whole wheat is healthy and it is tasty, no denying that but its nice to have a no wheat just plain ‘ol flour bread. And this one here hits all the right spots!

This is a bread machine recipe but of course it can be made without one. For making a bread without a machine check this post out.

MILK LOAF

makes 750 gms

Ingredients

  • 50 gm butter, softened, diced
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 260 ml liquid milk
  • 400 gms white bread flour
  • 1 tsp yeast

Method

Put ingredients according to your bread maker’s instructions. Set loaf size to 750 gms and use appropriate cycle.

If you do not have a bread maker, you can see this post.

CARAMELIZED ONION TARTLETS


Happy Fool’s Day! I am not a great prankster- though I have done my share of pranks on people- some really good ones. There’s one in particular, where I pulled a prank on my friend G- though looking back at it now- it was not a good thing playing with her feelings like that. Sorry G!

Today I thought I would make a fool out of V- and it did work for a few minutes but then he realised the date and blew my cover! And that’s it- somehow my brains nor my mom’s have been able to come up with something believable to fool people. I blame it on the massage I went for in the morning (like a true capricorn girl, there’s always something I can put blame on). The massage has left me too relaxed to get those brain cells to work. What’s with the massage, you ask? Well, since I’m in Kerala- the land of ayurvedic massages- I am on a week long detoxification program- 7 days of early morning(!) hour long massages!! This is what vacations are all about!!:)

My mom is also undergoing a treatment at the same place. Of course her reasons are different. She has osteo-arthiritis and the massage center has a course where they use certain techniques that help cases like her’s. Its a 3 week long course where in the first week certain special herbs, put in a potli (a small sack), are dipped in hot oil and then rubbed all over the body. The second week they put some kind of medicinal rice in the potli and dipped in oil, they rub it on the whole body. The third week is a massage with  an ayurvedic oil. Along side,  some ayurvedic medicines are given to cleanse the internal system. An old lady does the massage and oh boy she has some strength! My mom’s massage is more gentle, considering her condition- but mine wasn’t- nonetheless it felt nice!

I did get to some baking yesterday. My mom had some friends of hers coming home for tea in the evening and thought it would be the perfect time to make something. So I baked a lemon pound cake, some mocha chocolate chip cookies and these caramelized onion tartlets.

The tartlet shells are such a breeze to make and they are made with just one ingredient- well make that two if you count the 1 tablespoon butter. No! it’s not an april fool day’s joke- its actually true. The tart shells are made of rolled out bread slices. Add any filling to it and you have a great snack on your hand to serve for your guests or well, to eat it on your own!

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GARLIC & HERB ROLLS

I decided to make some rolls day before. My dad loves home made bread and after I made some spinach bread a few days back for him, I thought I’ll treat my dad some more and make some garlic and herb rolls.

I have tried several recipes of garlic bread but somehow all fail when it comes to the garlic flavor. One bite and I question whether I added any garlic or not. But, not with this one! Not only did I up the amount of garlic in the bread, but with this cool basting trick I found at Annie’s Eats, while figuring out how to make knotted rolls, you would be sure you are eating a garlic flavored bread.

Annie also has step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to make the knotted rolls. In case you would like to shape them like knots do check her post.

Fresh out of the oven, with some butter slathered on- these make a fantastic eat!

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REALLY,REALLY HEARTY SUNDRIED TOMATO BREAD

Two days prior to my India journey, I am down with a cough! Great! I took precautions- covered myself- head to toe- but the Denver cold got to me. Its the walk we took near the Cherry Creek Mall that’s the culprit. Well, it’s not that bad yet. That’s the key word- yet! The last time I got down with a bad cold- it started out as not being that bad- just a sore throat- nothing big. The starting symptoms are the same this time, but hopefully it won’t get any worse- there’s a slight fever but I’m hoping some rest will take care of it!

The first day in Denver, we had amazing bread at the hotel restaurant, The Lift, while waiting for our main course. It was a white bread with a hint of garlic and presumably, a lot of parmesan cheese. But one bite into it and you could taste the cheese and all its goodness. I love white bread and even though whole-wheat is supposedly more healthy, etc etc I still miss an all white bread at times.

But, the other day, back at home I made this really hearty and flavorful sundried tomato bread. I cooked up this recipe or would it be baked up (?!). Thought of adding herbs but decided against it, since I did not want too many flavors playing in the bread. I also restrained myself from adding cheese- though instead its better to grill it with cheese instead. I did add dill for some added flavor.

By the way, this bread is full of goodies for your body! The Wheat germ is rich in nutrients, Vitamin E (good for anti-aging and your reproductive organs) and fiber. Fiber helps in digestive cleansing, cleaning your system off toxins and bacteria. Another benefit of having fiber-enriched food is that you feel full sooner- that ways you don’t overeat. (and thus, helps you in keeping your waist slim!)

Flaxseeds too are rich in fiber, besides they are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are good for lowering cholesterol and heart related diseases. They are rich in antioxidants too.

Besides the seeds, the flours used also have their health benefits. Everyone knows the benefits of whole-wheat flour.  Soy Flour is a great source of high quality soy protein, dietary fiber and important bio-active components which provide a good source of iron, B vitamins and potassium.

I wanted to add 1/2 cup rolled oats, and make it even more healthy, but I had the quick one minutes ones (never buying them again after reading they have the hulls removed), and wasn’st sure how they will work and also did not know how healthy they would be after the hull is removed. (Any info would be appreciated for the uninitiated me!) If you do decide to add oats reduce the bread flour quantity by the same amount and you might need to add/reduce water.

I did add a tablespoon more of water even though it did not look dry, but I know that soy absorbs a lot of water so the dough might need that extra tbsp- when making bread, its always better to err on more water and have a sticky dough than to have a dry dough. But, I ended up adding more flour, so guess the earlier proportions might have been perfect. (Have mentioned the initial proportions in the ingredients list- but if more water is required, add a tablespoon at a time).

Hope you enjoy this bread and its benefits as much as we did!

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SPINACH BREAD

Today was coffee at my house. Its always fun having these coffee meets. Get to talk and learn so much from the diverse group of friends I have. We had a new girl join us. I remember, how, about 8 months back I was new to this group. And now the group feels like family- people I can count on when I need someone here. Its always fun to cook for them- they are all so generous with their compliments! Also, it gives me a platform to not only experiment by baking extravaganzas, but to introduce my friends to Indian food. They now all know about Samosas, kathi rolls, mint chutney and I feel happy to have made them taste that part of the world. Today, though, I did not go Indian. I kept it simple with buttered garlic on a home-made Spinach bread and carrots served with tzatziki dip. For the sweet tooth there was fruitcake and I also kept some olive-cheese-pineapple on a stick appetizers. Surprisingly the latter were quite a hit with the children!

The idea for Spinach bread had been haunting me for a while. I had a bunch of spinach in my fridge and thought it would be an interesting way to use it up. Found a recipe here. I wanted to add some feta cheese but did not have any in the fridge. And cheese had to go in the bread! So instead I added some parmesan cheese. I also added roasted garlic to the dough. The bread came out very flavorful. I served the bread baked with some garlic-herb smothered butter and everyone devoured them!

Next time I will replace some of the all-purpose with whole-wheat flour – you know, make it all healthy and all ;). Would also add some powdered flax seeds! Oohh, the sound of it makes me want to run to the store and grab a bunch or two of spinach. (What would you know, we finished both the loaves at the coffee today- yes! it was that good!)

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PITA BREAD

It snowed on Monday, which is a rarity, since it hardly snows here. Well, to be fair, it was the kind of snow that just melts as soon as it hits the ground. But, nonetheless, the snow made me all excited and lifted my spirits. After a nice weekend in Phoenix, coming back to an empty house did drain my energy out. Well, the first flakes of snow did cheer me up. The snow also meant that winters are here, for good!

I was always a winter person, and hated summers, but my two year stay in Russia changed that. Months of sunless skies and the cold can make one morose. Come summers and one could see the change- bright clothes, smiling people everywhere, kids playing in the park- everything seemed beautiful. Fortunately, Moscow summers aren’t like India’s. Probably that’s why (actually, exactly why), I used to have this dislike for summers. In India, summer comes with sweaty clothes, power cuts, water shortage..well, you get the drift. But, post Moscow even Indian summers changed for me. Now summers for me is a time where I can wear skirts, floral dresses and show my skin off . Even though these days with the weight that I have put on, the prospect of doing so puts me in a depression worse than what I used to experience during Moscow winters and no sun 😦 . Well, that’s where I think winter dressing comes to the rescue. The layers cover all the stored up fat! 🙂 Though there is a charm in winter dressing too- boots, colorful scarves, long coats, stockings, caps – it’s fun.

Speaking of fun- today, I decided to make Pita. And it was everything but fun! The prospect of Pita and Humus has been haunting me for a while now. Since we don’t get Pita bread at the store here, I decided today would be the fateful day I would try my own version. Half way through making Pita, I realized the humus that we had was way past its expiry date. I could have and would have made the humus, but neither did I have the energy nor the time, nor the soaked chickpeas in hand to make the humus. So, instead I had to substitute with this other dip that was their in the fridge. It was no hummus but it did the job.

Now the reason why I didn’t call the Pita making process fun was that it did not go as the recipe says it should. Even though the pita was tasty, it did not fluff up. I tried spritzing the rolled up dough with water but that didn’t help either. Next time, Ill try keeping the dough more moist. (Yes, there is going to be a next time- I’m not the once bitten, twice shy kind of person- well, at least not when it comes to baking.) Another thing I’ll change is to keep the dough overnight. (I just kept it for two hours to rise)

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HERBED GREEN ONION BREAD

I am getting back to my old routine and finally over the initial withdrawal symptoms experienced due to the absence of my in-laws in the house. After what seemed like ages, I met my friends and caught up on all the gossip that I had missed in the last one month. I have also got back to my morning gym routine with my friend P, and occasionally going to the track for a run. My friend, J, or how we jokingly call her Jillian (after the tough-as-nails trainer from TV’s Biggest Losers), is our motivator- pushing us to our limits and making sure we don’t give up!

On Monday, for the first time I went to a chicken pen to water and pick eggs, since my friend, who owns the pen is out of town, and in return, for taking the trouble, I got free farm fresh eggs! Woo hoo!

Another first is that V is growing a mosutache! He is doing so in support to Movember. Each year, Movember (Moustache November!!) is responsible for the sprouting of thousands of Mo’s (Australian slang for moustache, where the movement began) on men’s faces around the world, raising vital awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically for cancer affecting men.

Men who grow moustaches for the month of Movember, called Mo Bros, become walking, talking billboards for the cause, raising awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health. So, V has become a Mo bro! And the moustache makes him look so funny. He is going to kill me for posting his Mo bro photo on the site. But, what the heck, I’ll do it anyways!! 🙂 🙂

Now, on the baking front, I got this book from the library exclusively on bread recipes. Had been itching to try the recipes in it but wasn’t able to find the time. I remember V’s mom wanted to learn how I make bread and thus, I got the opportunity to explore the book. Since I had spring onions on hand at that time, I decided to give the book’s version of Herbed Green Onion Bread a try with great results. V’s parents loved it and so did I! Of course V loved it too!

My mom-in-law found bread making pretty time consuming. I guess perception and passion plays an important part in how you feel about the work you do – I like bread making- I actually enjoy it and don’t find it too much work. Yes probably it is time-consuming in the sense you have to be in the house. Probably you can knead the dough and run a quick errand before it rises to double. But as for actual work- there’s only the first kneading that takes a little time but that’s just it. I love the dough- the flavor yeast gives to it and the pleasure you get eating a freshly baked loaf of bread. I am not the kind who likes what I cook- probably because of the effort it takes but when it comes to baking- I always like what I make if it turns out well- maybe its the passion I have for baking and not so much for cooking mundane things?

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BANANA BREAD


It feels so good to be baking again! Recently I got hold of the book, Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. I had seen an episode with them on the Food Network show Throwdown with Bobby Flay and they were so adorable that I knew I had to get their book.

Recipes that are handed down through generations have their own charm. Every family has their own masterpiece recipe. This blog is an attempt of getting prized recipes from my family and the ones that I find good under one roof and make an heirloom recipe collection of my own, just like the Brass sisters.

So, I set off to try their Banana Bread recipe, with pretty good results. The reason I chose a banana centric recipe was that I had these overly ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen counter for some time. And unlike others, who would gross out by just the sight of black skinned bananas, I just exclaim, overjoyed by the opportunity to bake something banana-eyy!:)

The melted butter gives the bread a texture quite close to that of cake. And, for an extra punch, I toast the nuts.

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