Bounty from a tiny balcony garden

Houston, one of the things I love- my little balcony and the plants I have there  (but you know there is always room for more though!)

I totally believe in growing your own food- and now more than ever space does not limit our imagination. Who not love a bounty of peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and those beautiful, heavenly smelling bushels of basil!
All grown in containers- if I can do it- You can too.

Appa’s tomato rice and Amma’s Chick peas masal vada

No recipes, just pictures of appa’s tomato rice (yes made appa, my dad cook on his birthday!) 

 and amma’s masal vada with chick peas instead of chana dal!

Daring Bakers- March madness! Updated

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Dutch Crunch Topping

Servings: This recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9×5 loaves (23cmx13cm) or 12 rolls. If you make only 6 rolls in the first soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.

We’ve provided this recipe first because it is the mandatory aspect of the challenge. Note, however, that you should not prepare the topping until the bread you’ve selected to bake is almost finished rising (~15 minutes from baking).

Ingredients
2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)
Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
2. Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. We tried coating it with a brush but it worked better just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.
3. Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping. With the Brown Rice Bread, the loaves should stand for 20 minutes with the topping before baking.
4. When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.

Soft White Roll

Servings: Six sandwich rolls
This recipe approximates the quintessential white sandwich roll found throughout the Bay Area. The recipe is simple, quick, and addictive.
Ingredients
1 tablespoon (1 packet) (15 ml) (7 gm/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (No need to use a thermometer – it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
1 cup (240 ml) warm milk (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (We’ve tried both nonfat and 2%, with no noticeable difference) ; **I used coconut milk**
1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (20 gm/ ⅔ oz) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm/⅓ oz) salt
Up to 4 cups (960 ml) (600 gm/21oz) all purpose flour
Directions:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).
2. Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together. (The photo to below is with the first 2 cups of flour added).
3. Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below (For us, this usually required an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour).
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size (see photo comparison).
6. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).
7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
8. Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping, I got better results by putting them directly into the oven.
9. Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.

Judgement:
I did half the recipes for both and felt like I should left the bread in the oven for just 5 more minutes but it was smelling so heavenly, so yeasty- I let my impatient side take over 🙂
For more of the gorgeous takes on this month’s challenge- hop on over to DBers page.

Who knew I would turn into a sourdough afficiandao?

Once again, thanks to the December 2011 DB challenge-I now have a sourdough starter in my refrigerator (I do feed it every week or every two sometimes!). This is my first recipe after the basic sourdough bread I made way back in December. The inspiration of this recipe comes from Christy of Whole foods on a budget.

Christy’s Family’s Favorite Breakfast Cake — My Version

Ingredients

20g  sourdough starter
10g white whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
10g water

1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup coconut oil

2 eggs
scant 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extracts
a pinch or two each of ground nutmeg and ground cloves
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups dried wild blueberries and diced dried apricots

Method


Twenty-four hours prior to baking the cake, combine the first 3 ingredients together in a large glass bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.  Let sit for roughly 12 hours.
Uncover the sourdough mixture and add the next 3 ingredients, mixing well.  Re-cover and let sit for roughly 12 more hours.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Grease a square glass baking dish. 
Prepare the fruit you (made a rookie mistake and did not coat the fruits with flour first) will add and set aside. 
To the sourdough batter, add the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and spices.  Mix well with an electric mixer.  Mix in the fruits.
Sprinkle the baking soda on top of the batter and mix again (This was a complete blunder- I forgot baking soda but then remembered it and then decided to add it to a mixture that was at 400F for about 5min)
Pour the batter into the baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
Let it cool for a few minutes.  Cut large pieces and serve topped with a honey-sweetened greek yogurt topping.

Judgement: Despite all my mistakes- the cake turned out to be fabulous! 

Daring Bakers- let your imagination run really really wild!

Not that I have not been cooking, just that I literally have not been motivated to update my blogs- feel like I am talking to no one. All the effort- not sure why I do it…yeah yeah one of those moments!

Anyway I am glad to kick the year off with a DB challenge

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.

Basic Quick Bread
Makes one 9” x 5” (23×13 cm) loaf
Recipe from Sara Schewe

2 cups (480 ml) (250 gm/9 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk or soured milk*
1 large egg
1/4 cup (60 ml) mild- or non-flavored oil, like canola
1 teaspoon (5 ml) flavored extract, such as vanilla or almond

1 cup dried raisins, soaked in orange juice

1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

for the glaze

1/3 cup (80 ml) (35 gm/1-1/3 oz) confectioners’ (icing) sugar
4 tsp fresh orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to moderate 350ºF. Grease a 9×5 inch (23×13 centimeter) loaf pan with butter and line with parchment paper cut to fit the length and width of the pan, with enough overhang to allow easy removal after baking. Grease the top sheet of parchment.
  2. In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt to combine. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  3. Lightly whisk (butter)milk, egg, oil, and extract to combine. Pour into well and stir until just mixed into a batter. The batter will be lumpy and may still show a few streaks of flour.
  4. Mix in the raisins and ginger
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely before slicing. Drizzle with glaze, if desired.

For the glaze: Slowly whisk confectioners’ (icing) sugar and half of the juice, adding more juice as needed to thin the glaze to the desired consistency.

Judgement

Well they are quick to make… that is the point. The bread was decadent, moist and just the perfect sweetness! I ♥ quick breads. Thanks Lisa!

Something new for 2011!

So finally before the year ended I learned something new- sourdough bread! Thanks to daring bakers- I am late in posting this not because I made it late but because with friends visiting town it was hard to get to setting up the post. The bread lasted for about half a day- so I have no pictures either but I do, now, have the mighty sourdough starter. Hopefully I will be able to keep it alive and kicking!

 Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

For more on how to let nature do the work, check here.

French Country Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter for further baking
Wheat Starter – Day 1:
Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
Total scant ½ cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
Directions:
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86 F if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer.

Wheat Starter – Day 2:

Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
scant 1/2 cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.
Wheat Starter – Day 3:
Ingredients
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
4 teaspoons (20 ml) water
scant 1 cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8-1/10 oz)
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place.
Wheat Starter – Day 4:
Ingredients
3/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons (205 ml) (120 gm/4 ¼ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup less 4 teaspoons (100 ml) water
1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8 oz) starter from Day 3
Total scant 2⅔ cup (625 ml) (440 gm/15½ oz)
Directions:
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!
French Country Bread
Stage 1: Refreshing the leaven
Ingredients
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (160 gm/5 ⅔ oz) wheat Leaven Starter
6 tablespoons less 1 teaspoon (85 ml) (50 gm/1¾ oz) stoneground bread making whole-wheat or graham flour
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
Production Leaven Total 2¾ cups plus 4 teaspoons (680 ml) (480 gm /1 lb 1 oz)
Directions:
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. It may be fairly stiff at this stage. Cover and set aside for 4 hours, until bubbling and expanded slightly.
French Country Bread
Stage 2: Making the final dough
Ingredients
3/4 cup less 1 teaspoon (175 ml) (100 gm/3 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (510 ml) (300gm/10 ½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (7½ ml) (7 gm/¼ oz) sea salt or ⅔ teaspoon (3⅓ ml) (3 gm/⅛ oz) table salt
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) production leaven – this should leave some (1 cup) for your next loaf.
Total 6 cups less 2 tablespoons 1415 ml (1007 gm/35 ½ oz/2 lb 3½ oz)
Directions:
1. Mix the dough with all the ingredients except the production leaven. It will be a soft dough.
2. Knead on an UNFLOURED surface for about 8-10 minutes, getting the tips of your fingers wet if you need to. You can use dough scrapers to stretch and fold the dough at this stage, or air knead if you prefer. Basically, you want to stretch the dough and fold it over itself repeatedly until you have a smoother, more elastic dough.
See my demonstration here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqS3raEGdwk
3. Smooth your dough into a circle, then scoop your production leaven into the centre. You want to fold the edges of the dough up to incorporate the leaven, but this might be a messy process. Knead for a couple minutes until the leaven is fully incorporated in the dough. See my demonstration here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPO97R4iO4U
4. Spread some water on a clean bit of your work surface and lay the dough on top. Cover with an upturned bowl, lining the rim of the bowl with a bit of water. Leave for an hour, so that the gluten can develop and the yeasts can begin to aerate the dough.
5. Once your dough has rested, you can begin to stretch and fold it. Using wet hands and a dough scraper, stretch the dough away from you as far as you can without breaking it and fold it back in on itself. Repeat this in each direction, to the right, towards you, and to the left. This will help create a more ‘vertical’ dough, ready for proofing. See my demonstration here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDoJRCMfclE
6. Heavily flour a banneton/proofing basket with whole wheat flour and rest your dough, seam side up, in the basket. Put the basket in a large plastic bag, inflate it, and seal it. Set aside somewhere warm for 3-5 hours, or until it has expanded a fair bit. It is ready to bake when the dough responds to a gently poke by slowly pressing back to shape.
7. Preheat the oven to hot 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then carefully invert the dough onto the sheet. I like to put the baking sheet on top of the basket, then gently flip it over so as to disturb the dough as little as possible. Make 2-3 cuts on top of the loaf and bake for 40-50 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after 10 minutes.
8. Cool on a cooling rack.

Judgement: This bread is quite forgiving, I did make mistakes in few of the steps and despite that the bread was awesome. Too bad I did not make any soup to go with it!

Sindhi Majoon for ICC

This month’s Indian Cooking Challenge is a Sindhi winter special sweet called Majoon. Vaishali of Ribbons to Pastas shared this wonderful recipe. This event was started by Srivalli of Spice your life.

Interestingly if you google “Majoon”, the top search results have something to do with marijuana :D. Majoon is an Arabic word for goodies that contain cannabis!

Ingredients 

1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup 2% Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
2tbsp Poppy seeds
1cup Khoya (unsweetened)
1 1/4 cups nuts (Almonds,walnuts, Cashews, Pistachios)
1/4cup Ghee
1tsp Cardamom powder
1/4cup Dry dates (chopped or pulsed)

Method

Bring milk and sugar t boil. Add the poppy seeds, khoya,cardamom powder and dry dates, and boil until the mixture is reduced to half.

Coarsely grind, or mildly pound the nuts and add them to the boiling mixture. Let this mixture cook in low flame stirring in between, add the ghee slowly.

Cook until the mixture seems dry (looks like a brownish milk halwa). It took me about 1 hr from start to finish.

Serving: Take 3-4tbsp of the majoon and heat in microwave oven for 2minutes with 2tsp of milk, serve hot for breakfast.

Judgement: I am not sure I will have it for breakfast but it sure does make for a great nutty dessert! Loved it especially when served piping hot.