Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Raisin Quick Bread – Daring Bakers Challenge PT II

Hello, what is the easiest way to make out if one is a Libran or no? Put a person in front of two options and ask them to CHOOSE!
Choose is an awful word. This is where I realize what a tough job it is to make decisions…almost Earth Shattering, it is for me.
Thank god I had no options, “This Guy or that Guy?” when I got married. I would have died a million deaths. That’s why god never gave me any time to make a choice. He must have thought very wisely- it has to be only ONE guy! So, hubby dear, that’s why I am a one man woman, happy with the choice I made.
I tried out two options for the daring bakers challenge, and guess why the first one won? It was sweeter!

Not saying that this isn’t, only that it isn’t as sweet as the Date and. but it wsa nice and lihtly sweet, perfect for sugar-oholics loke me, who need a sugar rush every few hours but can’t afford the calories.
Since I tried this as breakfast bread, it was warm and soft and appetizing and fragrant, and though it didn’t have as much butter as the other bread, it was still buttery. It gave a more butter flavor, bite for bite, obviously the other one had dates.

And it was quick.
Just a variation of the cheese and chive scones recipe, Get the recipe here, this one I read on Joy of Baking.

For the

Raisin Quick Bread – Daring Bakers Challenge PT II...

You need

3 cups plain flour
40 Gms sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
40 Gms butter cold
100 Gms raisins
1 ½ cups/ 360 mils buttermilk (I used cold milk and 2 tsp vinegar)

So simple, yes?

Before you assemble the ingredients, turn on your oven to 190C.
Start by sifting the dry ingredients into a bowl.
I used icing sugar (which also contains corn flour btw.)

Grate the butter into the bowl. My maid was on her way, I saw rather heard her 2 houses away. She carries her small baby on her back, tied to her body with a shawl, almost like the Fisher Price baby sling. These ladies must have been the inspiration for the Fisher Price Baby Sling. Many, many years ago hubby dear was stationed in Bhutan, there we saw women walk by with  red cheeked, cute chubby baby on their back, tied with a shawl (the men used to totter by drunk, if you please- universal phenomenon, that’s why women worldwide do all the work.) and we had just spent a bomb on that Fisher Price sling. Complete waste of money, as sweet child never liked being slung, only carried.

Back to the bread, break the butter into the flour. 

And pop the raisins in. just mix them around.

And after you’ve greased and floured a loaf tin, get the buttermilk ready.

Pour the buttermilk into the dry stuff. 

Quickly working with your hands, lightly mix and knead the dough, shape it into a ball and put in the loaf tin. You can of course make a free standing loaf, but that is never bread to me. I so love loafs. Plus the persnickety attitude of sweet child and hubby dear also has to be taken into consideration. I made a little cross, for luck.

In the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes. you can tell the braed is done when you touch the top and it springs back. Better still ,when you bring the loaf out, tap its back. you'll get a hollow knocking sound. its done.  

Yay! its done. Slice and enjoy with your breakfast. Skipped the eggs, Sweet and eggs dont go for me. Fab with a life saving cup of java. I like mine South Indian Filter Coffee, Kapi Style.

The daring Bakers Challenge was fun, double, actually.

Try this for a quick snack.Or Breakfast.

So what are you baking today???

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Date and Walnut Quick Bread Daring Bakers Challenge

My first Daring Bakers Challenge!
While I post this blog, I still have no idea what the 2 opening and closing lines are to be, but I will prevail. That’s the spirit I live and work with. There’s always a way out, you just need to know how to find it!
I did mention many healthy exam type snacks, this seemed perfect. Sweet, but not quite- bread, but not quite. The main thing this is is Quick Bread.

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

It took all of 5 minutes to mix, two bowls and as soon as it was done, it was ready to eat. As if cakes or other breads aren’t eh?
But this was an excuse to eat, low sugar, low fat and HIGH, High nutritional value. Just what the doctor or the counselor ordered. Perfect as a guilt free sweet snack. Well almost!
Enough raving and praising about the bread. The recipe is a mild moderation of one from Joy of Baking.

reduced the butter, a bit of sugar- actually the original recipe called for brown sugar, we used white. And of course omitted the walnuts. The heat is on in Ranchi, and all the moms and kids avoid nuts like the plague. None of us want to end up as pimply monsters, or suffer a bout of loosies after a bit of an indulgence.

Since friend Kanchan and her kids are nowhere close to the battle of the bulge, I talked her into keeping this for her kids. I’m happy baking as long as I don’t have to walk the miles to walk off the additional calories. So her being my neighbor is a true blessing.

The loaf looks well done from any angle.

For the

Date and Walnut QUICK Bread…

You need

250 Gms dates
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 mils boiling hot water
50 Gms walnuts
2 cups flour
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 egg beaten
1 tsp vanilla
100 Gms cold butter

The first step, deseed and chop the dates. Place them in a largish bowl and top with the ¼ tsp salt and the bicarbonate of soda. 

Now pour the hot water over the dates. There will be a fizz, that’s the soda working to soften the dates.The dates will be as soft as if they have been soaking for a week and they will leech out all the caramel color they possess, to look dark and mysterious and gooey and soft and yummy!
We only need to wait till this mix cools. About 20- 30 minutes. 

Once the dates are cool, pre heat your oven to 180C/ 350F.  Before you start, grease and flour your loaf tin. You need a loaf tin; it doesn’t feel like bread if you use a cake tin.
If you are lucky enough to live in a climate that allows you to munch on walnuts even in the summer, go ahead. Toast the walnuts in a pan, or in your pre heating oven, chop them and set them aside to add to the bread.
 Now sift together all the dry ingredients. The flour, the baking powder, the sugar, salt and cinnamon that is; into a fairly large bowl. Stir well once.

Into this grate the butter or just cut up into small bits and add in.
With a fork, work the butter in, just like you’d do for scones.

Beat the egg with the vanilla, just to mix it together.

Now the quick bit. Add the dates with all the liquid and the egg to the dry stuff, gently fold it in.

The batter will not be like dough, nor will it be like a cake batter. Somewhere in between.  It’s almost like you added too much water to dough by mistake. But for this bread, it’s “A” OK!

Into the oven for anywhere between 50 minutes to a little more than an hour. If you feel that the top of the bread is browning too fast, cover it with some AL Foil and continue to bake till a skewer comes out clean.

Wait 5 minutes and then turn out the bread.
We didn’t wait too long for slicing it.

It smelt divine, from afar.
The pics….and then we added some butter.
Melted fast, the knives are new btw. We were just showing them off.

Baking was fun, but the reactions of her kids were the best!
                                                     ♥♥♥Rules of the challenge♥♥♥
                                                                    No yeast
                          Can’t take more than 1.5 hours to prepare and bake through.
                                                  Only loaves or muffins/popovers

Happy neighbors….so we spread more and more happiness as we go by!

So what are you baking today???

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Savoury Pancakes- Besan Ke Chile/ Poode –Vegetarian Omelette...

Long time no see? I hope that absence has made the heart fonder, not wander or wonder! No excuses this time, just a constant struggle between the grey cells and the fingers. It’s all there in the brain but the fingers just have been refusing to co operate. They have been mighty busy trying to get sweet child to study. His year end exams generally loom over our heads like Medusa’s DREAD locks.

Once upon a time when sweet child was actually sweet and young and might I add, gullible, totally, it was so easy to drag him to his books and make him study and write and re revise. His perfect scores used to feel like mine. Now, the scene is bleak. I’ve been suffering from a hollering and anger induced hangover type headache (which feels bad-because the alcohol was NOT there!).
Ah, the memories of the days when the teacher handed over his yearend report with a smile and praises for sweet child’s sweetness. This year, we will –thankfully, be on vacation, and I will ask friend Ritu to go and face the wrath.

A word of advice for the young, go and study! If your mum has to face the same situation as me, I’m sure you will too. After all the chickens have come home to roost! Mum!!!

These savoury pancakes that I’m about to blog about are a perfect snack or for that matter meal for those who are hard at cerebral work. Gram flour is HIGH protein, onions and garlic feed the fibre intake and yogurt is in general good!

For the

Savoury Pancakes- Besan Ke Chile/ Poode –Vegetarian Omelette...

You need

1 cup gram flour/Besan
4 tbsp yogurt (the sourer the better)
Vegans can substitute the yogurt with a solution of plain water and lemon juice. 
1 small onion finely diced
2 garlic scapes finely chopped
½ tsp Ajwain/Bishop's weed
Salt, red chilli flakes
½ tsp oregano (optional)
¼ tsp baking powder
2-3 tsp chopped coriander/cilantro
1 tsp Chaat Masala
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)/olive oil/ vegetable oil to cook

Many names, huh? But then a rose is still a rose, whatever you call it. 

Quick. Hardly any waiting time this needs.Put your non stick griddle/pan onto heat.

Thats all the Gram flour/ besan you need to make 7 or 8 pancakes.

Garlic Scapes fresh from the back yard.These add a whopper of a flavour to anything that you put them in.

In a bowl, place the gram flour,  and the spices. Add the baking powder and mix it all together well.
A little FYI byte...Ajwain or Bishop's weed is really good for your tummy.

The Active principles in ajwain may help increase the digestive function of the intestinal tract by increasing gut juices(gastro intestinal secretions). Thymol, theessential oil obtained from ajwain has anti- bacterial and anaesthetic and anti fungal properties. Like caraway, ajwain seeds are rich in flavor, fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti oxidants!

Sourced from here.

Now go in the the onions and the garlic..

Now the cilantro/ coriander.Blend all this with a whisk, while adding in the yogurt.If you feel that the batter is too thick, add some water or more yogurt.
The batter should be of a pourable consistency. Not too runny, or the pancake /Poode will cook before the onions and generally not taste nice.

By now the pan will be hot enough, add the oil/ghee. Not too much, just one tsp will do for 3 pancakes.

I use the Hawkins Futura Non Stick pan. Any day better than Tefal, for households with a kaamwali Bai,.
Someone who didnt pay for the dishes will not wash them with any amount of love or sensitivity. So this one is more value for money!

Just one ladleful will do. Two or three pancakes on the pan, depending on the size of your pan.
You’ll need to cook them on a low heat. Add a little more oil/ ghee if you feel the pancake is not crisping up.
When done, flip the pancake, and cook the same way. Just press the pancake with your spatula to ensure t is cooked evenly.
Once they are done, sprinkle some chaat Masala over one side. If you don’t have any, dry mango powder/ amchur or even lemon juice will do.

These taste yummy, warm, spicy and tangy.
Pop a couple of slices of bread into your toaster.
And make a sandwich out of them. You can also eat them without the bread; just dip them in green chutney or ketchup.

Dieters and vegans delight. These pancakes rock!

A lot more healthy, exam type snacks, which are low in calories, high in fibre and absolutely yummy coming up. I’m going to sit and let my fingers do all the talking this Saturday night, as our date is only with grade six science!

So what are you baking today???

Monday, February 20, 2012

Donna Hay Inspired Pizzas With No Tomato Sauce...

Pizza, pizza and more pizza. That's what Sweet child would live on...24x7. Me, I love pizza too, but what with all the cheese and white flour that goes into it-I go into paroxysms of guilt. And then we saw Donna Hay, with her adorable Aussie accent and spectacularly sparkling white kitchen cook up pizzas with puff pastry...I was sorely tempted to let go of my resolve for the time being. I had a small Square...really small.

Yup, I'm showing off the new collection of Lakme Nail Enamels. If you like it , the colour is 256- it has no name...just a lovely purlishious pink.

A word about Donna Hay, love the fact that every thing around her is so white...almost like St Peter at heaven's Pearly gates. The iridescence of the white background just elevates her food to a standard so high, I'm sure not many can keep up with her. I did watch Eric Lanard the fabulous French Pastry Chef, but he is sooooo secretive about the proportions, and the lady doing the voice over just so drowns his cute french accen(t). What a waste!
Last Batch of puff pastry coming up here.
So now I will have a blog post about how to make Puff Pastry the baketitude way.
The only disadvantage- even with the least possible amount of cheese , this is still not low in fat.(sob). All good things are frightfully expensive!
Well, as long as they are GOOD!
So ,OK ,small doses.

All I had was about 250 gms of Puff Pastry, I had to thaw it for about 25 to 30 mins. I also tried to dehydrate some tomato slices in the oven, I did tell you that the tomatoes are from my own back yard and are very juicy. The absolute last thing I wanted was a watery pizza topping, so i sliced them as thin as I could and popped them in the oven with some herbs and olive oil.You do not need to use tomatoes, ant thing will do,I also had some red pepper- ate most of it even before the pizzas were dressed.

Just so that you know,these are not the toppings that Donna Hay used, only the puff pastry base and the shape of the pizza are the same. The rest, its a wild, wild world.

Been long since Maxi Priest sang this...

Used to love his version of a classic...

Lets get down to doing the work.
For these

Donna Hay Inspired Pizzas With No Tomato Sauce...

you need

250 gm-approx half pound puff pastry
100 gms mozzarella-I used 50 gm cottage cheese and 50 gms Amul mozzarella-shredded
Oregano, salt ,red chili flakes to taste
a few sliced olives, Sliced tomatoes, sliced red bell pepper or whatever you wish to top your pizza with.

Preheat your oven to 230C/450F

Shred the cheese- in my case the cheeses. Mozzarella has a higher percentage of fat,cottage cheese is negligible(homemade with skim milk).

Oven Dried the tomatoes. I should have let them sit in a sieve after salting them first- that way the tomatoes would've turned out drier and crisper. They cooked at 150C/300F for almost 30 minutes.

All right, the puff pastry was workable now. Rolled to 1/5 of an inch thin in a rectangular shape.

Fluted pastry cutter, two equalish rectangles....Extras into the bin...basket...and score. That is why I opted for a bin with a flap, just aim and shoot. Only need to pick up stuff when I miss...and until I'm a few shots down myself, I am proud to say I NEVER miss!

Just about a cm from the edges, spread the cheese mix.

Pinch the edges to make a tray shape that will hold the toppings. you may need to wet the edges a bit to ensure they are glued .

The tomatoes, the pimento stuffed olives...

The sliced bell pepper and the seasonings.

The pastry is on the Al foil and baking tray all this while, you don't want the pizza to topple before its cooked,do you?
By now the oven should be HOT!
In for approximately 9 minutes. You could do both together actually, I was directing sweet child to study from across the hall. So my mind was taking only baby steps.

Only thing, this is one pizza that can be cut into small squares and served as an appetizer with drinks or as a simple mid day snack. Yumm...Yummville!

Puff Pastry is so versatile, just like your wardrobe essential white shirt. Serve it with panache or slum with it in bed...whatever, it never ceases to please!

No wonder every one is so in love with it. Really envy those who can just pop over to the market and buy their supply of Puff Pastry. I/m going to have to slum it out and Knead and Roll and Fold and roll and fold....
BTW...good Puff Pastry has 729 layers....because it is 36
3 multiplied by itself 6 times. 3 times folded , 3 times. Math , you find it every where!
And here it pays back...with fantastic taste.

So what are you baking today!

Until the next

Until the next


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