Friday, January 24, 2014

Focaccia Caprese | We Knead to Bake #13

I joined this group called 'We Knead to Bake' started by Aparna of the lovely blog, My Diverse Kitchen. I had to wait almost an entire year to get into this group, so this is really the first one I am baking with them, but their 13th.
It always fun to bake in a group, even if the group is a virtual one ! Its inspiring and you feel good about being in the company of some fantastic bakers and more importantly, people who like baking.

focaccia caprese

Aparna gives us a recipe each month and this time its Focaccia Caprese. This needed Mozzarella and fresh tomatoes. Here in Ahmedabad, the dairy products are really good, not surprising considering Amul is about an hour away from here! There is this other place called 'Jain Dairy', which has amazing dairy products. I got the mozzarella from there and it was fantastic !
Bread baking can be simpler than the regular Indian cooking, once you get the hang of the yeast beast. Thankfully, I've had a pretty good working relation with the yeast and so we get along just fine. What's made life easier is that I discovered instant yeast, thanks to Sayantani and Suma. Its a dream to work with, no worries about the proofing, just a fairly sunny day and you're set ! I've even tried it on a gloomy rainy day and it still worked fine.

This focaccia has this really aromatic herbed oil which gives it a great flavour, along with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes. Its a great recipe and it you are yet to begin baking with yeast, this is a great start. Focaccia is the easiest of breads and tastes great.
I baked mine for a minute or two more to allow the cheese to melt a little more. The one with the slightly melted cheese got chomped in minutes and I had no time to click the pictures. This one was made to my son's taste, who didn't want to see so much cheese!


This is being Yeastspotted !

Focaccia Caprese

Recipe Source : Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer

What you need -

For the dough :

2 tsp instant yeast
1.5 tbsp sugar
3.5 cups maida (I did not have vital gluten, used plain flour)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water
A little more olive oil for brushing dough

For the Topping:

4 large tomatoes sliced
1 small round of fresh mozzarella
a few fresh basil leaves

For the Herbed Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp finely minced garlic/ paste
Salt to taste

Fresh basil leaves for garnishing

What you do with it -

To make the herbed oil, add all the ingredients listed under herbed oil and whisk well. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, add the yeast, sugar, flour, salt and oil. Combine and add 1 cup of warm water and knead until you have a soft elastic dough. I knead it on my kitchen platform (thats been scrubbed clean). Its much easier this way for me.

Grease a bowl with a little olive oil and place the dough in it. I tend to apply a little oil over the top of the dough too. Then cover the top of the bowl with a cling wrap. From my experience with breads so far, this works better than covering it with a thin cloth. Allow it to rise in a warm place. This could take between 40 mins to an hour

Once the dough has risen, divide it into 2,3 or 4 parts, depending on what size you want. If you are not using it all, wrap the unused dough in cling film and refrigerate it. Bring it to room temperature and then proceed. I used this dough to make 3 medium sized focaccia. I made 2 first, refrigerated the remaining dough, after the first rise and made the next one a day later. It turned out just as good.

Pre-heat the oven at 200-210 C

Roll out the dough or just use your hands to stretch it to the shape you want, it really doesn't matter. I prefer rectangle or oval. Place the dough in a greased baking tray. Allow it to rise for about 20 mins. the dough gets pretty springy at this stage. Oil your fingers slightly and then make little 'dimples' in the dough, that are fairly well-spaced. Grease the top of the dough with oil

Bake for about 15-20 mins till the sides are golden brown. Take it out of the oven and raise the temp of the oven to about 230 C

Using a spoon, pour the herbed oil over the focaccia and then place slices of mozzarella over it. Top the mozzarella with tomato slices. Bake for another 5-10 mins, till the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil leaves
We had this with minestrone soup for dinner and again for breakfast the next day, freshly baked, of course!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Multigrain Paniyaram

The weather in Ahmedabad has dipped and its been raining last couple of nights, which has made it so cold and foggy here, which is definitely a welcome change from the usual hot months that we have about 8 months in a year !

Breakfasts are always a big task for me, not so much the preparing, but the big question of what to make for breakfast ! I am not so into cereals and milk for breakfast, give me a nice hot Indian breakfast any day, and I'm one happy person.

I also prefer something fast, easy, healthy and tasty. This one fit the bill perfectly !
Paniyaram / Appe is a favourite, and this is an instant recipe, so saves up so much time of soaking, grinding, fermenting, etc..
A spicy onion tomato chutney, some hot tea and it was a perfect breakfast

Multigrain Instant Paniyaram

Serves 2-3

What you need -

1/2 cup oats (I used Kellogs)
1/2 cup multigrain flour (I used Ashirwad)
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup sooji / rava / cream of wheat
1 onion finely chopped
2-3 green chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp chana dal
1 cup curd
1/2 tsp baking soda or 1 small sachet of Eno fruit salt

What you do with it -

Beat the curds with 1/2 cup water
Soak the oats, rice flour, multigrain flour and sooji in the curds
Add a little salt
In a pan, add a tsp of oil and heat
Add mustard seeds, chana dal and allow to splutter
Add the green chillies and onions
Fry for 2-3 mins
Then add this over the batter
Add the baking soda / eno and mix well
Heat the paniyaram pan with a drop of oil in each cavity
Add a spoonful of batter in each cavity and cover and allow to cook for 1-2 mins
Flip it over with a spoon or fork and leave uncovered for a minute
Serve with chutney or sambar

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tomato pickle

I've been waiting to restart my blog in the New Year with something sweet, and I know if I keep waiting for that to happen, we may just cross a few months or so. I have been posting at this blog in fits and starts, and somehow not able to maintain the flow.
Here's my aunt's recipe for an amazing tomato pickle. I can't really categorize it as a South Indian tokku or as a North Indian achaar. I got this recipe from my aunt. Last time she visited, she brought me a big bottle of this pickle and we had it with parathas, dal-chawal, bread, anything that needed a little zing.

Its tangy, sweet and spicy,and goes well with anything.
With the abundance of tomatoes in the market and this being the perfect weather for it, I finally got down to making this pickle.
Give it a try, its simple to make and tastes yum !
Here's hoping your year ahead is filled with its sweet, tangy and spicy moments.

Tomato pickle / Tomato relish

What you need -

1 kg tomatoes
25gm / 8 cloves garlic
25gm / 2" piece ginger
4-6 green chillies
10-12 curry leaves
3 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek / methi seeds
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp vinegar
1.5 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp sugar
3 tsp red chilli powder

What you do with it -

Wash, wipe and chop the tomatoes into small pieces
Finely chop the ginger, garlic and green chillies
Wash, wipe and chop the curry leaves
Roast the fenugreek seeds and powder it along with the mustard seeds
Grind half the quantity of ginger, garlic and green chillies and keep aside
In a large pan, add 3/4th of the oil and add the fenugreek-mustard powder
Add the ground garlic-ginger-chilli paste and the chopped ginger-garlic-chillies
If you feel the oil is less, add more as required.
Add the chopped curry leaves, tomatoes and vinegar and allow it to cook on a low flame
Once the oil starts separating, add the salt, sugar and red chilli powder
When the oil thickens (takes about 10-12 mins), turn off the heat
Allow it to cool completely and store in a clean glass bottle


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