Friday, February 26, 2010

Strawberry Panzanella

A Panzanella is a simple salad of tomato,basil,olive oil and bread.These are the normal or traditional ingredients,though we can add anything or everything to this leftover salad or bread salad or pan molle as it is also known.These days I think apart from bread we can add or remove anything and any bread salad is also known as panzanella.Anyway,I found an innovative panzanella recipe at 101cookbooks where Heidi has made panzanella using fresh strawberries.

The recipe was very easy to make.I had few leftover slices of bread and I simply made it following the instructions without checking the estimate of ingredients.There is nothing much recipe to write about and so I have added more pics than usual.

Day old bread :few slices or 1 loaf

Strawberries: as much as you like
Brown Sugar: 2 tbsp +

Toast the bread slices and cube them.
Chop/slice the strawberries and then in a bowl add half of them along with the sugar.

Turn into a chunky mash using masher or hand blender or hand or back of the ladle whatever you have.I used a mathu or wooden masher to crush them.This works when the berries are overripe.This is our vinaigrette and you can add as much sugar as you like to this.

Then add the cubed bread to these and mix well and serve with remaining sliced strawberries.

The recipe was a simple and tasty dessert .It is pretty flexible and you can add whatever other ingredients like spices or other fruits etc with this. Do check the original recipe for a richer salad and attractive presentation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taktouka-Moroccan Tomato Pepper Salad

This is a simple Moroccan style cooked salad which I had made from CookingwithAlia.The recipe is simple as usual and obviously tasty.The salad can also be used as a dip or spread or enjoyed as itself.

Green Bell Pepper: 1
Tomatoes: 4-5medium or 2-3 Big juicy
Onion: 1 big
Garlic: 3 cloves or 2 tsp minced
Olive oil: 1 tbsp+

Chop onions finely.Chop the bell pepper into bite size pieces and gently peel the skin off tomatoes and chop them into pieces.The recipe did not say about peeling the skin but the video showed that the skin of tomatoes had to be peeled.

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onions and saute.As they start cooking,add the salt,pepper,paprika,minced garlic and saute.Cover and cook for a few minutes while the onions may start sweating and cook in their water.Remove the lid and add the chopped tomatoes.Mix well and cover and cook for another 8-10 minutes or so when the tomatoes start cooking and release juices.Add the chopped bell peppers and cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes till they are cooked.

If there is not enough tomato juice in the pan then you can add water as needed for the pepper to be cooked.

Taktouka is ready when all the liquid is absorbed and the peppers are cooked.Serve as a side salad or chunky dip or spread.

The dish was heartily spicy and I enjoyed it very much.It can be tried in the microwave as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dengu -Kenyan Mung Bean Stew

I found this recipe first in an old issue of a magazine and was surprised as to whether such a dish exists,I mean Kenya and our good old green gram or mung bean.Anyway I googled as usual and found few related entries and have adapted mine from here.

MungBeans: 1/2 cup

Ghee/butter: 2-3 tsp+
Onion:1 small
Garlic: 1-2 small cloves

Tomato Puree: 1/4 cup +

Green BellPepper: 1 small
Red BellPepper: 1 small
Fresh Red Chilly : 1
Green Chilli :1

Cook Mung Beans in water till tender.I use a pressure cooker for this though stove top also works.Mash the beans though I did not do it.Once cooked in the cooker it reaches the mashed consistency by itself.Chop onions and crush garlic.Chop the bell peppers into bite size pieces.Slit the chillies.I used fresh red jalapeno in this dish along with a small normal green chilli.The no: and type of chillies can be adjusted as per taste and the required heat.

Heat ghee in a pan.Add chopped onions and crushed garlic and saute till transparent.Add puree into this and let it cook for a few minutes .Then add the cooked beans,slit chillies,salt and chopped peppers.Add water as needed to make the gravy and cook for about 15 minutes more till the required thickness is reached.Upon cooling the stew thickens so cook considering this aspect.

Serve warm with rice/bread or as a hearty soup.

Another interesting factor is the use of ghee in the recipe.Butter or oil can be used instead of ghee as well.I never ever thought that even ghee would be a Kenyan ingredient.It seems few cuisines apart from Indian cuisine use ghee. Well, the dish was hearty and has become a regular.A nice change from the normal or common Indian style mung curries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gluten Free& Fat Free Chocolate Banana Bread

Now this is a simple banana bread made with brown rice flour and which I twisted a bit and added chocolate.I have been looking(googling) for some brown rice flour recipes courtesy Madhuram and most of them had xanthan gum in these which was used as a thickner.Now continuous search led me to a forum in cookinglight and I found a banana bread recipe there which was from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan.The recipe was not only gluten free but vegan too. My adaptation is vegetarian as I have used dairy product and avoided oil to make it fat free and I also added chocolate to the batter and tried to give a swirled look.

Dry Mix:
Brown Rice Flour: 1 cup
Baking Soda:1/4 tsp
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Nuts: I used pecans: chopped 1/4 cup
CornStarch:1.5 tsp

Wet Mix:
Banana: 1+ mashed.
Maple Syrup:1/3 cup
Egg or Vegan Egg : 1 .I used Ener G egg replacer though you can use flax meal as well.
Soy/Rice/Normal Milk or Buttermilk: 2 tbsp I used normal milk

Semi sweet/milk/ dark Chocolate: 1 ounce + as per taste

In a big bowl mix the dry items of flour,soda,baking powder,chopped nuts,cornstarch and salt together.

In the blender or food processor,first add slightly chopped/mashed bananas and blend till almost smooth.To this add the egg/vegan egg,vanilla,maple syrup and milk and blend to get a puree.I allowed few chunks of banana to remain in the wet mix.

The original recipe used 4 tbsp of veg oil.I replaced it by using around 4 tbsp of mashed banana or half of a normal sized banana.Hence the 1+ in the estimate of banana.If you want it richer then use 1 banana and tbsp of oil or melted butter.

Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir until combined.

Melt chocolate in the microwave or double boiler,whisking to smoothen and allow it to cool slightly.To this fold in half the batter to obtain a chocolatey batter.

Grease a loaf pan and spoon alternately both the batters .I started with only banana batter and then chocolatey one.After spooning the batter tap the pan or use spoon gently to spread the batter within the pan.Atlast with a knife/spoon swirl the batters to obtain a marbled look.If you feel this is too much of work or are not interested,then pour the batters as you like into the loaf pan.
The layers are like this...

The swirled batter looks like..

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 40-45 minutes or till the tester in the middle comes clean.Mine took exactly 40 minutes.Also another aspect I noted was the bread after baking pulled out from the edges of the loaf pan.It is..

Take out and then let it sit in the loaf pan for 10 or so minutes after which transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

I must say that the top of the bread looked marbled,but when I sliced it,it was not that marbled.Also I think the bread should have been baked in a smaller dish or muffin pans or mini loaves,as it does not look like it had risen into a normal size loaf.

The bread was soft and moist and a bit crumbly as I had cut it before it cooled completely.

I wanted to take pics and was in a hurry.These days,its a wonder if something comes out correctly from the oven.The power cuts here are atleast three times a day with each time ranging from 1-2 hours and each day its a different time.So going near the oven itself feels like a risk.Add to this risk is the internet connection problem which makes me believe that I am living in prehistoric city or something even before indus valley civilization (atleast Indus people had well defined roads and infrastructure) rather than Indias IT city.But yes,I should be thankful to the wireless broadbands.They work most of the time but are expensive.And it any of you missed me last week (I hope atleast one of you did ) ,then its because of my short trip to my native,combined with the above mentioned problems.

Sorry I got carried away,I was too happy with my bread and all these came out.I am also happy to share the bread with Madhuram for the Whole Grain Baking Event : Rice and also with Jamie for MM:Bread and Chocolate,an event originally by Meeta.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sesame Flaxseed Crackers

Sesame seeds are well known part of several Asian and upto an extent in other cuisines where they are added on top of bagels,baked into crackers and made into sweets etc.They are a rich source of manganese,copper, magnesium and calcium.Health benefits apart,they add a nutty and rich taste to the dishes.I had baked them into simple crackers which had the additional goodness of flaxseeds and sunflower seeds as well.The recipe is adapted from Jude of Applepiepatispate' where she had baked from 'Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads'.As ususal I halved the original recipe.

Whole Wheat Flour: 14 tbsp
Sesame Seeds: 3 tbsp (Mix of black and white)
Salt: 1/4 tsp or to taste

Sunflower Seeds : 3 tbsp powdered
Flax seeds: 1.5 tbsp powdered

Water: 5tbsp+/-
Vegetable/Canola oil: 1 tbsp
Honey: 1 tbsp

Optional spices: pepper,chilli powder/cayenne pepper,paprika

Mix all the dry ingredients including salt and then add the water,oil and honey.Form a firm dough .Add more water if needed to form into a dough or oil if you feel it is too dry.The recipe mentioned around half cup of water which on halving came to 1/4 cup of 4 tbsp.It took 1 more tbsp for me to form a dough.

Knead the dough for 3 minutes.

Rest it for atleast 20 minutes.

Then divide the dough into 2 balls. Though I halved the recipe I followed this step as well as this way I can control the thickness of the rectangle being rolled out.

Take a dough ball and placing it in parchment/butter paper or oiled wooden surface,roll it out into a thin rectangle (1/8 inch thin will give you a medium thick cracker while 1/16 can make crispy cracker). You can roll it out depending on the length of the baking sheet you are using for baking these.
(Er,mine is not exactly a rectangle,but thin)
Transfer the rectangle on to a baking sheet preferably greased or if you are using butter/parchment for rolling out carefully tranfer the paper on to the baking sheet.

Using a pizza wheel or your choice of cutter,cut the rectangle to get your choice of shape.Do not completely cut,but leave markings.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 10 minutes first and then depending on the brownness of the cracker for additional 5-10 minutes,rotating the pan in between.I went for the first 10 minutes,then rotated the pan and went for additional 7 minutes of baking to get the desired brownness.Here again the brownness depends on the thickness of the dough rectangle.

First Look..

Take out and optionally glaze with honey water (2 tbsp honey+ 2 tbsp warm water mixed together) and then let them cool completely which will make the more crisper.I did not use the glaze as it would have made the crackers a bit sweeter.Instead I sprinkled fresh black pepper on top of some or even served some plain like that.

The crackers were hearty and healthy and whats more my daughter loved these.So I can see myself making these more often.For spicing up I would suggest adding the spices while making the dough though its not in the original recipe.

Another interesting thing about the recipe was the oven temperature was just 350F.I have seen several cracker recipes with oven temp of 400F or more but this recipe surely worked with this temperature.Obviously the crackers are on way to hardworking blogger Priya's CWS:Sesame.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Almost Fat Free Strawberry Bread

The strawberry season has started here and I am definitely planning to make several dishes with it er, provided the 'Power(cut)' GOD helps.Anyway,the first dish I made is a cakey strawberry yoghurt quick bread that I had seen at 'Joy of Baking'. Only changes are I used egg replacer to replace the eggs and also replaced the butter with pureed strawberries.The bread is very easy to put together and if you use white whole wheat flour and non fat yoghurt/curd then it will be completely fat free.

Wet Mix
Strawberry Puree: 1/2 cup
White Sugar: 3/4 cup
Eggs or Ener G eggs: 3 (1 Ener G Egg = 1.5 tsp of powder blended with 2 tbsp of warm water)
Vanilla: 1 tsp

Dry Mix:
All Purpose Flour: 2 cups
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Baking Soda: 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon: 1 tsp

Low Fat Yoghurt: 1/2 cup + 2-3 tbsp as needed

Chopped Strawberries: a few handfuls chopped as per taste
Pecans: 1/2 cup Toasted & Chopped

Toast in a baking sheet 1/2 cup pecans for a few minutes in an oven and then chop then into smaller pieces when cooled completely.I actually toasted them on the stove top.This also takes few minutes.Chop the strawberries and keep aside.

For pureeing strawberries,I washed around 8-10 medium size strawberries and chopped and blended them in a mixer adding little sugar,lemon juice and little water.

Wet Mix : In a big bowl,cream together the strawberry puree and sugar till the sugar dissolves and then add the Ener G eggs and beat till well blended.If you are using real eggs,then beat well after addition of each egg.Beat in vanilla .It really enhances the flavour of the bread.

Dry Mix: In a medium bowl,whisk together the dry items of flour,soda,baking powder,sal and cinnamon.

Bread: To the wet mix,addand mix alternately the dry mix and yoghurt starting and ending with the dry mix.Here if you are using Ener G eggs as I did then you may have to add extra 2- 3tbsp of yoghurt as the batter will be very thick.You can also add in strawberry puree / water/ sour cream instead of yoghurt as well.Mix the batter until just combined and not more.Fold in the chopped nuts and strawberries and transfer the batter to a greased and floured loaf pan.We can coat the chopped strawberries in flour before adding them to the batter.In my hurry I had not done it but they were equally distributed in the bread and did not sink to the bottom.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for almost one hour or until the tooth pick inserted at the centre comes out clean.Mine took exactly 1 hour before taking out.

Take out and cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm when it tastes best.

This bread is very good as itself and also with any choice jam/butter/honey.I had actually baked it twice.The first time I made it the power played truant.And it is not the first time it has happened.I have thrown out several half baked or spoilt things while waiting for the power to make its presence felt.I sort of wanted to give up baking and honestly do something very destructive,but this bread has given me confidence.Ofcourse the recipe can be perfected as always but I am very happy with it.The crust looked like that of a sandwich bread but the crumb was soft and spongy just like any yoghurt/buttermilk bread would be . Do check the original recipe here before going for my almost fat free version.

Hope Jamie accepts this cakey bread to BBD#26:Birthday Bread.

Simply Cauliflower

'Climbing the mango trees' is a excellent nostalgic memoir by Madhur Jaffrey.The memoir takes us to the Delhi in partition days.Jaffrey was born into an affluent family -imagine Edward Luyens asking them to choose their own place while designing Delhi?.The days of the Raj, the traditional havelis,the exquisite meals, and what not.The books makes us think that we are missing something golden though we are technologically advanced.Well, the book bursting with dishes and with several pages of recipes is like an explosion on your mind,thoughts and especially palate.There are several several new dishes and recipes and the first thing I made is the simple every day cauliflower.Cauliflower is a staple in my pantry and I use is in several dry and gravy dishes.This dish was new to me as the method was slightly different than what I am used to.

Olive Oil:1-2 tbsp
Cauliflower: 1 chopped into florets with a little stem

Turmeric Powder
Cayenne Pepper /Chilli Powder
Amchoor /Dried Mango Powder
Coriander Powder

Cumin Seeds: 1-2 tsp
Fresh Ginger: chopped/shredded
Green Chillies: 1+ as per taste
Coriander Leaves: Chopped


Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan.Add in the cauliflower florets and stirfry till they start to brown.Remove with a slotted spoon onto the paper towels.When still warm but less oily,put these in a bowl and mix in chilli powder/cayenne pepper,coriander powder,turmeric powder, amchoor and salt.

Remove all but little oil from the pan and return to heat.Add in hing and before it burns within a second,add in cumin seeds.When they sizzle,add in shredded ginger and saute till raw smell goes.Add in florets and stir well so that everything is mixed in. Add in little water as needed to cook the florets,cover and reduce the heat to low.Cook till the florets are done and garnish with slit green chillies and chopped cilantro.Adjust the salt and serve hot/warm as a side to rice.

A simple yet delectable side dish.Originally,I had planned another dish from the book -daulat ki chaat ,a Delhi streetfood made of milk froth.But the recipe is very elusive and almost impossible.Well,you can expect one or two more recipes from the book here soon.What do other bookclub members have cooked up from the book?
Simran made delicious Phirni
Sheba made Cheesewali Gobhi
Janaki made Palak Gosht

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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