Vegetarian Concoctions

March 29, 2007

Bread sticks

Filed under: Basil, Breads, Cheese, Garlic, Snacks and Appetizers — Hema @ 11:04 am

Horrible horrible week. The past week was sick….literally. First the kiddo, then me and then H. The only silver lining was that all of us did not fall sick at the same time. Getting better was no fun either. Disinfecting three whole baskets of laundry and cleaning up the mess we called our home took up another 3 days. I was dragging myself to work in the morning. Getting back home in the evening was worse…just thinking of all the work that lay waiting. If this was not enough, TEAM-INDIA added to our misery*. We played against Sri Lanka and the rest is history that I hope will never be repeated again. It took me quite some time to digest the fact that we did’nt even make it to the top eight teams. Half way through our innings I switched off the TV. What a shame!

What better way to vent out my anger and frustration than cooking?…and thats what I did. Baking, actually. Since my sourdough bread success story, I have been tempted to experiment with various breads and bread sticks seemed to be the simplest to start off with. I had made some a week earlier and they turned out soft and delicious. Here is my second attempt captured for records:

img_2973.JPG

What you need:

All-purpose flour – 2 1/2 – 3 cups

White unsalted butter – 1/2 stick (4 tablespoon)

Commercial yeast – 2 tsp

sugar – 1 tsp

Salt – about 1 1/2 tsp

Water – as required

Cheese sticks:
Cheddar cheese – 1/2 cup

Garlic sticks:
Garlic – 1 clove
Garlic salt and dried basil to garnish

Combine sugar and yeast in warm water and let rest for about 10 mts till bubbly. Add the flour, salt and butter. The butter should be at room temperature and softned when added. Incorporate the butter into the flour with your hands and then add enough water to get a soft and workable dough but not sticking to your hands while kneading(see tip 1 below). Add extra flour if needed. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes while pushing the dough away from you with your palms. Brush some olive oil on it and let this rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hrs in a warm place till it doubles in size (tip 2). Punch back the dough and now add your flavourings (tip 3). I made two kinds: cheese and garlic. To half the dough I added shedded cheddar cheese and to the other half minced garlic. Then I shaped them into sticks and garnished the garlic one with garlic salt and dried basil. You can really get creative with the flavors and shapes here. I placed the sticks on baking trays 3-4 inches apart and let the dough rise one last time – about 1 – 1 1/2 hrs (tip 4). This went into a 375 degrees preheated oven for about 25 minutes till the crust is golden brown. Brush some butter on the crust as soon as they come out of the oven (tip 5) and serve with your favourite soup or marinara sauce.

img_2973.JPG

With the few tips I learnt about bread making from an expert bread-maker, I guess I should send it to Sushma’s Monthly cooking tipology:

1. After the rise, the bread gets softer and hence stickier. So, the dough should not be too soft when you knead it in the first place.

2. If you don’t have a pilot lamp or a light in your oven or a warm corner in your kitchen to help rise your dough, you could place the dough in a small enclosure close to a saucepan with boiling water. This also helps in keeping the crust soft.

3. Some herbs and spices seem to inhibit growth of yeast. Hence, it is best to incorporate the flavors in the bread during the last rise.

4. The more number of times you punch back your bread and let it rise again, the finer will be the pores in your bread. If you want your bread to have big pores, just let the dough rise once and bake.

5. If you want a soft crust, like our bread sticks here, always brush the crust with molten butter as soon as they come out of the oven. If you want the crust to be hard/crisp, like in sourdough bread, skip the butter on the crust.

*CRICKET – the sport. The ICC world cup games are on in West Indies.

Advertisements

March 15, 2007

Pudina pacchadi(Raita)

Filed under: Curd/Yogurt, Mint leaves, Salads and Raita, South Indian — Hema @ 2:02 pm

Simplicity is a virtue. Be it a human’s character or a food’s preparation. Exotic is good and fun for a change, but definitely not for keeps. A man could be a great fan of Aishwarya Rai, but isn’t the simple girl next door his true love?(unless, of course, the man happens to be Abhishek B 😀 ) Likewise, eating out is fun. But, is not simple dal-chawal or thair samdam (curd rice) the ultimate comfort food?

A simple yet elegent companion for your favourite rice treat. That is the way I would like to introduce this pachaddi. No hard work, minimal cooking time, but unequalled satisfaction to the tongue. Looking to make a quick side dish to go with your meal? This is it! So friends, keep it simple, keep it sweet and before I start sounding too much like Sandra Lee and you think I am making something semi-homemade, here goes:

img_2987.JPG

Mint leaves – a bunch

Curd – 3 cups

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

Udad dal – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Oil – 1 tsp

Salt – to taste

Chop up the mint leaves coarsely. Heat up some oil and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the udad dal and hing. After the dal browns up, add the mint leaves and cook for a minute. Add the curd and salt after it cools down. Now, simply serve it with rice or paratha.

March 8, 2007

Pesarattu (Moong dal adai)

Filed under: Ginger, Whole moong dal — Hema @ 12:45 pm

The mere mention of Pesarettu, adai or dosai takes me on a joy ride down memory lane back home in India. Our kitchen springs up in front of my eyes. I see a girl, wearing a white and navy blue school uniform with her long hair oiled and plated up with a red ribbon, sitting on the kitchen counter watching her mother prepare dosais. A little boy comes in looking unkempt and points at his growling stomach. Both kids are instructed to wash their hands, legs and face, change their clothes and then come back with their tiffin plates. They frown and drag themselves into their respective rooms and come out after a while looking pretty much the same.

A plate is hurriedly rinsed and they sit on the kitchen floor with the plate in front of them in great anticipation. A bottle of til oil and a box full of molagai podi (gun powder) are given to them for self-service. Dosais are tossed endlessly into the plate one by one freshly prepared, right out of the tava.They gobble up the thin, white discs in no time and fight for the crisp outer circle. The mother shakes her head disapprovingly and asks them to get another plate, so they will stop fighting over every dosai and they refuse. They just like to eat from one plate…‘is se pyar badhta hai’…they announce, brilliantly quoting Aamir khan’s famous dialogue in Andaaz apna apna. After about 20 minutes of tossing and gobbling, the kids seem satisfied.

‘So, what’s for tomorrow’s tiffin’ asks the little boy.
‘I’m thinking adai’ says the mother
He lets out a happy squeal and sticks his tongue out at his sister.
The girl looks dissapointed.
‘And pesarettu for you’ says the mother looking lovingly at her daughter.
Its the sister’s turn to stick out the tongue at her little brother.

Ah! happy memories:) This is how my amma made pesarattus:

img_2885.JPG

Whole green moong dal – 4 cups

Raw rice – 1 cup

Ginger – a 1 X 1 inch piece

Green Chillies – 4-5 nos

Salt to taste

img_2882.JPG img_2881.JPG                
    
Soak the dal and rice for 3-4 hours in warm water. Grind with ginger and chillies and little water to make a thick batter. Add salt to taste. I like to grind it course, so there is a crunch when you bite into it. I like to add some mint or cilantro leaves into it. Ladle some batter on the tava and spread it out by patting it with the back of the ladle. Pour a few drops of oil and turn it over after one side is browned and crisp. Serve it with molagai podi, white butter or any pickle of your choice.

Blog at WordPress.com.