Monday, March 31, 2014

Edible Bread Basket

I enjoyed shaping and baking the Sunflower bread so much that I have taken every chance I got to bake bread shaped as something other than a loaf or a bun. I enjoyed baking the coffee bread and the beautiful cinnamon bread. When I saw the spring bread basket I was delighted to try my hand at something new.


The edible bread basket can be made with your favorite bread recipe. It is shaped over an inverted bowl that has been covered with aluminium foil. Ensure the bowl is oven safe as the bread is baked draped over the bowl. The size and dept of the bowl decides the shape of your basket.


You will need
Basic Bread Dough
1 egg as wash

Follow the Basic Bread Dough recipe. Prepare a mixing bowl that is oven safe. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cover the outside of the bowl with aluminium foil. Keep aside.


Transfer the risen dough to a floured surface. Flatten it and roll it into a large rectangle using a rolling pin. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut the rectangle into 1/4 inch wide strips.


Take one strip and roll it back and forth with the palm of both hands to form a round rope. Repeat with 6 more strips. Lay the strips from one end of the bowl, over the top down the far side and to the end of the bowl. Flatten the top with the base of a cup. Roll another strip into a rope and start working your way in and out weaving a basket. Repeat until you cover the entire bowl as shown in the picture.


Cut off the excess using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. Do not tug on the rope before cutting it. In a separate bowl beat the egg with 2 tbsp. water. Brush the egg wash over the surface of the basket. Ensure your strokes are along the long side ways and not up and own. This will create a weave pattern in case you leave marks.


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.



Trace the top of the bowl on parchment paper.


Using three ropes make a braid to fit the circle. That is the decorative top.


Make another braid and lay it over the top of the inverted bowl. Bake for 15-20 minutes.


Put it all together with toothpicks.


Shrikhand

I am posting the recipe for Shrikhand on the occasion of Gudi Padva. To make a complete meal for this occasion refer to the Maharashtrian Thali page.


Shrikhand is a very popular dessert and is made on several different holidays like Gudi Padva and Dasara. It can also be made as an evening snack or a dessert to complete any meal.

To make Shrikhand you will need
1 tub nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
5-6 strands saffron
1 tbsp. warm milk
3-4 pods cardamom
1 pinch grated nutmeg

Invert the yogurt in a fine mesh muslin cloth and tie the ends. Let it hang over the kitchen sink overnight to let the water drain away.



Soak the saffron in the warm milk and keep aside. Untie the cloth and transfer the contents to a mixing bowl.


Mix in the sugar and refrigerate for at least an hour. Shell and pound the cardamom seeds. Add the cardamom powder and nutmeg to the yogurt. Blend together using a hand blender. Fold in the saffron milk and refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.


Enjoy the creamy shrikhand.

Basic Bread Dough For Shaping

This is a simple basic bread dough recipe that I use when shaping bread. I use commercial yeast and mostly whole wheat flour.

You will need
1 egg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 oz. Fleischmann instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 cup all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour (I used chappati flour, you can use white whole wheat flour)

Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. In a microwavable cup mix the milk and water. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds or until warm. Combine the milk solution with the beaten egg. Mix in the sugar, oil and the yeast. Sift the flour. Add the flour and salt to the wet ingredients. Knead into a soft dough. This dough is not very sticky. If it gets sticky add a little flour but no more than 1/2 a cup.


Knead into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow it to rise until doubled in volume. Use to shape as needed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tomato Bisque

This soup never fails to comfort on a cold or rainy day. Tomatoes are a favorite in my family and I am always looking for ways to include them in our meals. I made this soup on a very rainy day. It is very filling on its own but tastes great with a savory scone.


This soup has a rich creamy texture and a lovely orange color. Canned plum tomatoes have a delicious flavor citrus flavor. If you have a farmers market near you then you can try using fresh tomatoes. Do not use the tomatoes from regular grocery stores.


If you stock up on tomato cans in your pantry this would be a quick go to recipe on a busy cold weeknight.

You will need
1 28 oz can of Plum Tomatoes (I used whole tomatoes)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. goat cheese

Heat oil in a pan and the chopped onions. Saute for a few minutes until they become transparent. Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute for a few minutes. In the meantime chop the tomatoes. Add the juice from the can and the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Add the sugar, salt and paprika. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Take off heat and blend to a puree. Return to the pan and simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Shred the cheese over the top.


Serve hot.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Zucchini, Tomato, Asiago Cheese Scones

I made these scones for our monthly baking group Kneading Bakers. It was Megan's turn to suggest a recipe and Megan picked scones for the month of March. She asked us to bake either sweet or savory scones.


Her sweet and savory versions had asiago cheese. I chose the savory ones and tried to find a recipe with asiago cheese. I found this recipe on the blog written by Gina Homalka. Please do visit her blog. She has a lot of interesting recipes. I adapted the scones to suit the taste of my family.

Today it was cold and raining so served the scones with a large pot of soup. They were a hit and were all gone by the end of the meal.

You will need
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole wheat bread (I used chapati flour)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1 cup zucchini, shredded
2/3 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
2/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, shredded (I used the packet from Trader Joe's)
1 tbsp. thyme

Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a baking sheet and keep aside.
Using a paper towel squeeze out the juice from the shredded zucchini. Cut the sun dried tomatoes into small pieces.


Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.


Sift the flours, the salt and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour to get a crumbly texture.


To the flour add the vegetables, cheese and thyme.


Mix in the wet ingredients to form a dough. Transfer the contents to a floured working surface. Fold the dough in half and press down. Rotate it by 90 degrees and fold in half again. Repeat two more times. Transfer the dough to the greased baking sheet and press down to form a large circle of less than an inch in thickness. Cut it into wedges using a pizza cutter. I got 8 wedges. Leave the wedges in the circle.


Bake for 20-25 minutes. There should be some oven rise. Rotate the sheet and bake for another 5 minutes.


Pull the wedges apart and serve hot.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pistachio Biscotti

I do not drink tea or coffee so I never miss the hard crunchy biscuits that go with these beverages. My husband on the other hand has to have his two cups of tea, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. He enjoys biscotti and other similar snacks.


I made these biscotti with all purpose flour and used flax meal in place of eggs. I used very little sugar and substituted some of the butter with oil. The end result is a crunchy biscotti.

You will need
1/2 cup pistachio
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 sugar
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

For the Flax meal
2 tbsp. flax seeds
6 tbsp. water

Prepare the flax meal by mixing the flax seed and water together until the flax seed is stringy.


Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare a baking sheet by placing parchment paper on it. Place the pistachios on another baking sheet and roast for about 3-4 minutes. Cut them coarsely and keep aside. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the flax meal and vanilla extract.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add it to the wet ingredients. Add the roasted pistachios. The mixture will be crumbly.


Knead well until it comes together and you can form a dough. It will take a few minutes.


Prepare two logs about 3 inches wide and an inch thick and place them on the baking sheet.


Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the bottom is brown and the top begins to brown. Let them cool on a cooling rack. Bring down the oven temperature to 375 F.


When the logs are cool enough to handle cut one inch thick slices at a slight angle using a serrated knife. 


Put these slices back on the baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes. Turn them over and bake another 5 minutes. Let them cool completely on a cooling rack before storing in an air tight container.


Enjoy with your favorite beverage or on its own.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pepper Lime Potatoes

There are a variety of ways in which baked potatoes can be flavored. Today I used small red potatoes with chipotle red pepper in adobe sauce and lime. The peppery lime dressing is poured over the top of the baked potatoes.


This makes a great snack. You can change the amount of the red pepper to adjust the level of heat. I adapted the recipe from here.

You will need
5 small red potatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. cilantro

For the dressing
1 chipotle red pepper in adobe sauce
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. lime zest
1 clove garlic
3 tsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and dry the potatoes then cut them in quarters. Sprinkle salt, pepper and olive oil over the potatoes. Toss to coat. Layer them on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes turning over every 10 minutes.


In the meantime, crush and mince the garlic and zest the lime. Extract one pepper from the adobe sauce and mince. Remove the seeds before you mince if you want to cut down the heat.


Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk them together.


When the potatoes are done let them rest for a couple minutes.


Mix them with the dressing and chopped cilantro.


Serve.

I am submitting this recipe for the 13th week of the 52 week challenge for the theme Potatoes.

Tajik Naan

The naan from Tajikistan has got to be the most beautiful of flat breads. It is stamped with designs and made to look like a piece of art. The designs range from the overtly embellished suitable for weddings to the moderately embellished for every day consumption.


I saw a video of this bread a few months back and added it to my wish list. This bread takes time as the bakers spend considerable effort to get the intricate designs on the bread. They also use a range of stamps to transfer these designs. The trick is to stamp the designs deep enough to withstand baking but not cut the naan.


I do not have the tools that are used to create the complex impressions so I improvised. I used steel spoons, bowls, cookie cutters and icing tips.


Even my daughter could not resist and had to give it a shot.


Though my embellished naan looked nowhere close to the real thing it gave me a chance to really enjoy the making of something as simple as everyday bread. It must be this inner joy that has kept this tradition alive in Tajikistan for hundreds of years.


Though there are a lot of videos online on how this naan is made I could not find an authentic source for the ingredients. I finally found a version in Sasha Martins Global Table Adventure. The ingredients she used are similar to the Indian naan.

This naan is leavened with yeast and a tangy flavor is introduced with the yogurt. It is traditionally cooked inside a tandoor vertically stuck to an inside wall. I baked it in a hot oven for about 8-10 minutes. I brushed some of them with an egg/milk wash before popping them in the oven and the color on those was deeper than the others. They all tasted just as good. I completely ran out of wheat flour. I only had half a cup so I used bread flour instead.

You will need
1 1/2 packet yeast
1 cup water
1 cup yogurt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt

Heat the water. In a mixing bowl combine the water with the yogurt to form a lukewarm solution. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the bowl and let it sit for 20-30 minutes to create the sponge.


Sift the flours and salt. Add them to the sponge and form a dough. Knead well for 15 minutes until the dough is soft.


Shape it into a ball and leave it covered until it doubles in volume or about 2 hours.


Preheat the oven to 475 F. Transfer the dough to a floured working surface. Punch the air out gently and divide into 8 portions. Keep the portions covered to keep them from drying out. Using a rolling pin roll out one of the portions into a disc. Keep it aside and work with another portion of dough. Roll out 4 of the portions and then return to the first one. The disc should be puffy.


Using your imagination and your tools work out designs on the discs.


Sprinkle with a little water and bake for 5 minutes. Turn the baking sheet around in the oven and bake for 5 more minutes. Take the naan out of the oven and cool on a rack. Repeat for all the portions of dough.


Serve hot for breakfast or dinner.

This is my entry for week four, day three of BM #38 for the theme Naan. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#38.