Categories
Recipes

Crusty Bread Experiment

I’ve become quite interested in doughs, breads, flours and starters of late.

This bread was an experiment rhat turned out to be the crustiest bread I’ve ever baked. I used:

  • 3 cups organic all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1.5 cups water

And then:

  1. Mixed the dry ingredients
  2. Added water and slapped it together into a wet, shaggy mass with a spatula.
  3. Covered it with cling film and left it out, overnight for 12 hours, during which time it turned into a very wet, leavened mass.
  4. The next morning, floured a surface.
  5. Divided the dough into two and worked them for a bit, folding and refolding.
  6. Shaped it into a rough rectangle and circle; the shape of my cast iron containers.
  7. Floured the cast iron containers.
  8. Placed the dough into the containers.
  9. Let them rise for another hour.
  10. Baked them for about 45 minutes at 250.
This is what the dough looked like after 3 hours at room temperature.
Right after baking
Uneven leavening is what I wanted. The round loaf rose better, probably due to a better pan to dough ratio.
Categories
Recipes

Ash Gourd with Ginger and Coconut

I craved this flavour as a fast breaking meal and ate it with boiled millets and prawn pickle. Here’s what I remember of the recipe. Would have been great with kadi patta, but we didn’t have any.

Ingredients

  • Ash Gourd, 700gm, peeled and chopped
  • Ginger, 75gm
  • Green chillies, 6, ground with the ginger
  • Urad dal, 50gm
  • Green cardamom, 3 pieces, peeled
  • Black pepper, 1 tbsp, grind with cardamom
  • Star anise, 3 whole flowers
  • Cinnamon, 5gm piece
  • Cloves, 6 pieces
  • Dried red chilies, 5 pieces
  • 1 whole coconut kernel, grated
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Onions, 3 med-large, sliced

Method

  1. Heat a generous amount of coconut oil
  2. Gently brown the urad dal to golden.
  3. Add all dry spices; fry
  4. Add ginger-chili mixture; fry
  5. Add onions; fry
  6. Add add grated coconut; stir well for a few minutes
  7. Add chopped gourd and 500ml water. Stir well.
  8. Pressure cook until done. 10 minutes in a Futura for me.
Categories
Recipes

Egg Yolk Salad Dressing

Yesterday we made a salad of boiled eggs and potatoes and made this dressing to go with it. The salad BTW was eaten with a platter containing boiled rice, mutton boiled with spices, grated raw mango, mutton stock, raw cucumber sticks and a single large slice of batter fried aubergine.

Ingredients:

  • Boiled egg yolks x6
  • Olive oil, 7-8 tbsp
  • Pepper, fresh ground, 2 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chives, chopped, 3 tbsp
  • Garlic, chopped, 10 cloves
  • Water, 1 – 2 tbsp per preference for dressing texture

Method:

  1. Mix it all well
  2. Mix dressing well with the potatoes and eggs, or whatever else you’re using.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have chives, use strong onion instead. You could also use a blend of mustard oil and olive oil to get a similar short of sharpness.
  • Add chilies (green, red or powdered) if you wish

Categories
Basics Featured

#1 Heat: Your Friend and Foe

This is a part of the Basics series, intended to help novice cooks with what I consider to be the building blocks of food and cooking. It would be nice if you started from the top and worked your way to the bottom.

This started with trying to help novice cooks in my Facebook group, Chef at Large and I thought of copying the same content here too.

Your best friend and worst enemy while cooking, is usually heat. Too little and your food is raw, too much and it’s burnt. Other unwanted effects include being cooked just right on the outside and raw/chilled on the inside.

Heat also removes harmful bacteria from food, may increase or reduce nutritional elements within different foods and so on.

Understanding how heat works, how it’s conducted and how it effects different foods is one of the keys to making your time in the kitchen a little easier and more productive.

There are three types of heat transfer:

  • Conduction: via direct
  • Convection: via a medium like air or
  • Radiation: via direct heat/MW waves from a source

I’m not a trainer in this subject, and might skip steps that are important for a structured lesson. If you think I’m doing so, please ask for more details.

These methods of heat transfer translate into different types of cooking techniques, such as grilling, roasting, boiling, stewing etc. Even within the context of a pot, one can have different methods such as stewing, braising, jugging, boiling etc.

At the end of the day, you’ll find it’s all about the heat and how it’s transferred, using what medium and for how long.

The easiest way to understand heat better, is eggs. I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any vegetarian food that behaves in the same manner.

Eggs can be cooked with many different kinds of heat and heat transmission, and they’re so sensitive to heat that they become the ideal foods to begin with, and end with.

Why do I say ‘end with’? Because trained chefs also need quite a bit of practice before they’re able to master eggs. If I were to use one ingredient to test how good a cook is, that would be eggs.

Would you like to try answering these? Your answers will help others.

  • How many ways do you think eggs can be cooked
  • How many types of heat conduction have you used in your
  • Can you share a method of cooking that doesn’t use heat? (excluding salads and fruit)
  • What do you think happens when we introduce too much heat too fast?
Categories
Recipes

Swordfish Steak with Bean Mash and Green Peas

Cherie felt like cooking up a meal a few days. We discussed available options, time and difficulty levels and came up with this very nice platter that would make for a nice meal as well as be quick to execute.

Ingredients:

  • Fish steaks:
    • Swordfish steaks
    • Seasoned flour
    • Oil for frying
  • Bean Mash
    • Boiled kidney beans/rajma, 500 gm
    • Lemon juice, 2 whole
    • Butter, 100 gm
    • Green chilies, de-seeded and chopped
    • Onions, 2 medium, chopped
    • Garlic, 10 cloves, chopped
    • Salt to taste
  • Peas
  • Egg, fried

Method:

  1. Wash drain and dry steaks. Dust with seasoned flour and pan fry for a few minutes on each side until cooked. This fish doesn’t have a lot of fat – don’t overcook it or it’ll be too dry.
  2. Mash the kidney beans/rajma with lemon juice butter and gently fried mixture of onions, green chillies and garlic, seasoning as required.
  3. The egg was broken into a hot pan with a bit of oil, then quickly flipped over so the white would cook, and then slid onto each platter, after a total cooking time of about 1 minute. We like our eggs soft and yolks liquid.
  4. Thaw the peas.
  5. Serve up on a plate.

Notes:

  • Substitute with any other mash, though this one is somewhat healthier for most of us.
  • Cook the eggs longer if you wish.
Categories
Recipes Trending

Fries with Chunky Bacon Sauce

Last night we felt like eating something decadent and indulgent and this dish happened. Going by how good it tasted and the few ingredients within, I’m sure it exists already.

Ingredients:

  • French fries or wedges, 3 frozen handfuls, fried crisp
  • Spinach, 3 handfuls, washed, drained and chopped
  • Bacon, 10 thin rashers, chopped coarsely
  • Carrots, 2 medium, sliced thin
  • Onions, 6 small, 3 sliced fine and 3 chopped coarsely
  • Garlic, 20 medium cloves, chopped fine
  • Salt, pepper and chili of choice to taste
  • Water, 1 cup
  • Oil for the sauce and deep frying
  • Cheese of your choice for topping

Method:

  1. Heat oil, fry the sliced onions with a pinch of salt on medium heat until golden brown and caramelised, perhaps crisp, but definitely not dark brown or burnt.
  2. Add garlic, remaining onions and carrots. Saute for a bit.
  3. Add bacon, saute until cooked.
  4. Add water, bring to boil
  5. Add spinach, stir for a bit
  6. Ladle on top of fries, add some cheese, serve.

Notes:

  1. If you time it right, the fries and the sauce can be finished together, ensuring you serve hot and crisp fries with a hot and steaming sauce.
  2. Thicken the sauce a bit if you wish, right after step 5.
  3. If your chopped bacon is clumped together, mix well when cooking so they separate, or they’ll remain clumped together.
  4. I used Tibetan chili paste as well as freshly cracked black pepper. You can use green chilies, red chilies or any other chili hit you feel like.
Categories
Recipes

Scrambled Eggs with Micro Greens

I have this thing for micro greens. They’re easy to grow at home, nutritious, delicious and fun to eat. My favourite are mustard micro greens, for the sharp hits of mustard they release. They’re also great for those of us intermittently fasting, given we need to derive a great deal of satisfaction in a limited eating window, as well as stay away from the carbs for most part.

I also like making meals with lots of little components in there, a bit of this and a bit of that and a dash of this and a splash of that; makes for very interesting and involved eating IMO. These eggs were part of a larger breakfast platter.

These garlicky, scrambled eggs with micro greens aren’t really worth a whole post over, given how easy they are to make. The sole purpose of this post is to say, “See, this is possible”, for some of us who I’ve noticed prefer seeing a positive result and then trying their hand at it; and I so want more of us to adopt micro greens.

Ingredients:

  • Eggs, beaten
  • Garlic, chopped, fried to golden brown, drained
  • Micro greens, snipped from mid-stem, washed, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter to cook

Method:

  1. Heat butter on a gentle flame until it’s just beginning to separate.
  2. Add beaten eggs and using a spatula or spoon, stir, and keep stirring until the eggs begin to clump together.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and continue stirring. Remember to take them off the heat when they’re a little moist. If that isn’t the way you usually eat your scrambled eggs, try a spoon at this point, just to see how it tastes. :)
  4. Take off the heat, mix in or top with micro greens and the crunchy, toasted garlic.
  5. Serve hot on toast or as part of a breakfast platter.

Notes:

  1. Beat the eggs until they’re smooth, but not until they’re nothing but foam.
  2. Use as much or as little garlic as you like. We love garlic as a family.
  3. I prefer seasoning my eggs later and not adding salt to the beaten egg mixture. Your call.
  4. This is a great way to get greens into your kids. Doesn’t look like a salad at all.
Categories
Recipes

Amaranth Upma

Amaranth is a grain I suggest quite frequently in the meal plans for my CW90 wellness program. More frequent is inclusion of spinach and then there’s paneer every once in a while. Here’s a quick recipe for upma, that uses all three – amaranth grain, spinach and paneer.

Ingredients:

  • Amaranth grain, 250 gm, soaked 15 minutes, boiled until tender
  • Spinach, 250gm, washed, blanched and chopped
  • Paneer, 200 gm diced
  • Onions, 3 medium, chopped
  • Ginger, 1 inch, finely chopped or grated
  • Green and red chili, 1, finely chopped (or more)
  • Mustard seeds, 1 tsp
  • Arhar dal, 2 tbsp
  • Kadi patta, a whole sprig
  • Hing powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Oil/ghee, 3 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves, handful, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, saute dal till light brown, add ginger, onions, chilies and hing. Saute some more until the onions are transparent/pinkish.
  2. Add paneer. Saute a little more.
  3. Add boiled amaranth grain. Mix well.
  4. Add spinach. Mix well.
  5. Season and serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.

Notes:

  1. A tsp of ghee tastes good.
  2. This amount is good for a snack for three. For breakfast or a meal, double the quantities.
  3. Good substitute for wheat semolina / suji based upma.

Categories
Featured

Yogurt, Greens, Oil

Cherie was working late on her fine arts practicals portfolio, and while making a mug of hot chocolate for her, I thought I’d fix myself a little something too. We don’t usually have very many vegetables, snacks or leftovers in the house, buying and cooking fresh for most part. The only exceptions are meats in the freezer and perhaps a roast in the fridge from time to time. That, combined with my almost-obsession with lowering my carb intake, leaves very few snack options. And while there were three whole birds in the freezer, there was no cooked meat to munch on.

This was just a very late night / early morning (3am) snack that I put together and shared and had no intention of writing about it here. When I saw the post had garnered nearly 400 likes, I thought it might just be something that should be recorded. So, here’s probably the simplest recipe on this blog.

The result is a wonderfully aromatic bowl, both oils having their own distinct aromas, with the pepper oil being surprisingly floral. Each spoon is soothing due to the sesame oil and the salt, and there’s a bit of crunch and mustard sharpness from the greens.

Ingredients

Method

  • Pour yogurt into bowl
  • Top with the rest of the ingredients
  • Serve; mix well and eat.

Notes

  • If raw garlic is too strong for you, consider garlic powder or toasting the garlic prior.
  • Some may find this bland. Add a dash of Sriracha sauce if you like.
  • I found the Sechuan pepper oil at Majnu ka Tila in Delhi and couldn’t find any equivalent on Amazon.