April 25, 2007

No Knead Bread at last!

I have been wanting to try baking a bread for the longest time. For my first attempt, I chose a recipe that had the blogosphere buzzing with their trials just a few months ago. On November 8, 2006 Mark Bitman , the Minimalist of The New York Times published a recipe of No Knead Bread. It piqued my interest as I hopped from one blog to the next reading about this delicious bread. Now, albeit a little late, I have baked my first loaf using this recipe. It was cold when I tried it and the dough was a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. As a result, the bread was a little denser, but so delicious.

Ingredients:
(Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)
It takes about 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran (I used crushed oats)

Method:

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until you get a dough which is sticky and very goey. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 F. I left it overnight.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour and oats; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degF. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (I used a Pyrex bowl) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned.


Cool on a rack. Slice and serve.
This is my entry for Waiter There's Something In My... hosted by Andrew at Spitoon Extra. Thanks Andrew for hosting.

April 24, 2007

Semiya Payasam (vermicelli payasam)


I have been craving something sweet for some time now. Something simple, something comforting which captured the beautiful sunny weekend. It was gorgeous last weekend. We could sit outside on the porch sipping tea in late afternoon, neighborhood kids were out with their bikes, there was barbecue smoke in the air. Only the icecream truck was missing! I finally settled on semiya payasam for my sweet tooth.

Payasam or payesh is a traditional Indian sweet where rice is cooked in milk till it yields a rich and creamy texture. Two distinct kinds of payesh are ingrained in my food memories. One made with fresh nolen gud (palm juice jaggery) and the other made with saffron which has a delicate aroma and rich, golden color. Since there was no nolen gud, I made the vermicelli payasam with saffron.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups roasted vermicelli - broken
4-5 cups milk
1/2 cup half & half
1/5 tspoon saffron stands (mixed in warm milk)
1/4 cup almonds (soaked and chopped thinly)
pinch of cardammom powder
Sugar

Method:
Heat milk and half& half in a thick bottomed pan and let it boil on mdium heat. Once it boils over then switch it to medium low heat till it reduces to half. Keep stirring till at regular intervals.

Add the soaked saffron and sugar to the milk and let it cook for another 4-5 min. Add vermicelli and chopped almonds to milk and let it cook for another 4-5 min.


Garnish with almonds and cardamom powder. It can be served hot or cold. I love it cold and creamy. This is my entry for SHF- Flower Power hosted Monisha at Coconut Chutney. Thank you Monisha for hosting.

April 18, 2007

Green Blog Project - Winter/Spring 2007 Roundup



The blogs turned green again, for the Green Blog Project Winter/Spring 2007! Just as the Farmer's Market was winding down for the year, I signed up for the Green Blog Project - Winter/Spring 2007. I told Inji, "I could use some green in this long white winter." And I was not disappointed. We have bloggers from several cold places in North America, and we also have bloggers from countries like New Zealand reminding us that summer is just an earth's rotation away!

Winter, needless to say, is an especially difficult growing season. So here's celebrating bloggers who braved all odds to grow a wonderfully diverse array of plants, and of course, the resilience of the plants themselves!

Green Blog Project was created by Inji of Ginger and Mango. See her roundup of Summer-1 here.

The roundup is broadly divided into two categories of vegetables and herbs:

Vegetables

Let's start with Jayshree of Spice and Curry. After she went back to India, she gave us a tour of her mother's kitchen garden which has papaya, banana, fresh cabbage, eggplants, and greens. It made me nostalgic for the kitchen garden I grew up with filled with seasonal vegetables like okra, cauliflower, and carrots. I remember plucking the fresh vegetables on misty wintry mornings when the soil was still soaked with dew. Thanks Jaya!

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With Spinach from her kitchen garden,

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she made some delicious Palak Paneer.


Taking advantage of the Indian winter, Jaya next tried her hand at a Bengali recipe.

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Using white radish from her garden,

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she made mulor chechki. Chechki is a term used to describe the specific manner in which vegetables are shredded. Thanks Jaya!


Pam of Project Foodie is an ex-Buffalonian living in California and someone who enjoys her Winter Garden, something she couldn't do in Buffalo.

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She grew snow peas and made


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a delicious stir-fry with the fresh vegetables and pork to go with cashew rice. Yummy!


Gini of Salt and Pepper has a thriving garden too. She is joining us for this round of GBP with two entries. I'm sure you will drool over the pictures as I did. She also has pictures of her vegetable patch with herbs and vegetables in her blog. Click here to enjoy it.

After thinking about this countless times,

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Gini took some fresh green tomatoes from her garden and

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made Fried Green Tomatoes right at home. How about a cup of hot chai/coffee with this savory appetizer?

Does anyone remember the trips to the local vegetable market when there is an ingredient missing from the dinner or lunch menu?

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Gini does and here, she has recreated a nostalgic meal

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- eggplant fry- after she grew her first eggplant. These pictures are an inspiration to get my vegetable garden ready, Gini!


Inji of Ginger and Mango, the creator of this event, stays true to her blog name. Did you ask if she tried growing a mango plant? She might just surprise us with mango in the future.

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But this time, she grew fresh ginger in a pot and

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made Sour Ginger (Pulinji) for this event.


Sailu of Sailu's Food can grow tomatoes in winter!

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She grew these beauties in pots (my kind of gardening!) and

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made fresh tomato kothmira pachadi to go with fluffy white idlis. You're right, Sailu. There's nothing like plucking fresh vegetables for cooking!



Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi went to a local nursery and got some zucchini saplings. Except they realized it wasn't zucchini.

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It turned out to be Banana Squash and they had a bountiful harvest, of 65 pounds! They recently finished their squash supply with some lovely recipes including

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this pumpkin and leek soup. What are you planting next, Jai?



Sher of What Did You Eat loves her vegetable patch. And you can see why.

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She has fava beans, tomatoes and lettuce growing in her garden.

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She made a scrumptious mixed green salad with boiled eggs and organic flowers. This delicious looking salad is also a healthy and filling lunch. Thanks Sher!


Roopa at My Chow Chow Bhath grew up eating basale (spinach) greens.

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She has a potted spinach plant in her home

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and makes fresh spinach raita with jaggery and methi seeds for GBP. That sounds delicious, Roopa.


I grew some carrots in my "potyard," as I call it.

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These fresh carrots made

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the carrot kheer prepared for Durga Puja extra sweet!



Herbs

Asha of Foodie's Hope loves springtime, even if it means allergies!

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She has a lovely garden which includes a herb patch where she grew Mint and Chives and then made some

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minty masoor dal with turnips. She also has radish growing in her garden. Is that for the next round of Green Blog Project, Asha :)?


While I was sloshing through snow and grumbling about sub-zero temps, folks in New Zealand were soaking up the sun! Arfi of HomemadeS, who lives in Tuakau, has a wonderful vegetable and herb patch.


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She treats it organically and has some useful tips in her post. Arfi planted coriander seeds and watched the plants grow. She wasn't in a hurry, unlike me. She waited till they flowered and then had seeds.

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She used the coriander seeds in her Fried Tempeh (Tempe Goreng) recipe. Super delicious!


Priya at Live to Cook had a great idea.

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She grew some pea shoots in the New England winter, a Chinese delicacy called dou miou, and

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made Pea Shoot Roti and Jowar Adai. She's left some stems in the soil which will yield some peas by the time summer comes around :)


Sheela at Delectable Victuals has a thriving garden where she grew about the same amount of squash as Jai and Bee. :)

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For GBP, she has highlighted her rosemary and chives

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and made rotini with fresh herbs and squash.


Sandeepa at Bong Mom's Cookbook has two herb delights.

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With her Holy Basil she brought from the temple, and which survived the winter,

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she made an ayurvedic brew for a bout of cold.

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With the other basil, she made Thai Red Curry for her first Bengali friend in the US. Sandeepa talks about her plants with the same passion she talks about her three-year-old and Bengali Cuisine :) Great job, Sandeepa!


Nupur of One Hot Stove tells us that she didn't have a green thumb. But I say she has!

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Look at that healthy green methi plant she has growing near her window.

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Using fresh methi, Nupur makes Carrot Methi Fry. Before you go, look at her Basil plant.

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She's getting ready for summer GBP!



Jyothsna at CurryBazar has made Pineapple Morukutan,


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spiced with curry leaves!. Jyothsna is proud of her curry plant which survives the harsh summer of Sharjah

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and also gives her the wonderful aroma of home.


Linda at Out of the Garden has been giving us sneak peeks of her methi plants.


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But when the cold weather hit again, the plants refused to grow anymore.

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So Linda promptly picked them up and fixed herself scrambled eggs with methi served over crispy papad. Scrumptious scrambled eggs!



Sarina at TriniGourmet has a thriving herb patch in Trinidad,

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where she grows chives, basils and other herbs.

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She made Vegetable Curry in a Hurry with these fresh herbs. I bet it was gone in no time.


Deepz at Letz Cook was worried when she left her plants at home to travel to India.

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She came back to find healthy, thriving plants, especially her curry plant.

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Using fresh leaves from the curry plant, she made spicy and delicious curry leaf powder. If only I can get my hands on that delicious looking curry powder!


Reena at Spices of Kerala has lots of plans for summer gardening.


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For now, she chose to highlight the rosemary plant in her herb garden, which is a "jungle" in her own words.

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Her entry, Sambar with Rosemary , looks delicious.




I grew garlic greens and made some fresh pasta with garlic greens and artichokes.

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It was delicious and brightened the cold, short days of peak January winter.

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Emboldened, I threw in some cilantro seeds and had a cilantro plant. Along with cayenne pepper from my chilli plant, I made green cayenne pepper and cilantro dressing for a quick salad.



Update - Anita at A Mad Tea Party wanted to participate in Green Blog Project, but missed the deadline. But her Mint Walnut Chutney looked so delicious, I had to include it in the roundup.


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Her potted mint plants are happy that the sun is up in Delhi.

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Using fresh mint Anita made yummy chutney. She also uses mint for fresh salads, eggs and refreshing jal jeera. Cold, spicy jal jeera on hot summer days, I remember those days!



Now let's head over to Deepz at Letz Cook for the next round of Green Blog Project - Summer 2007 (applause)! It's time to plant those tomato, pepper, eggplant seeds, and much, much more.
It was great fun hosting this edition of the Green Blog Project. I learned a lot about gardening and plants, and truth be told, wouldn't have persevered with my efforts at winter gardening without this wonderful community of food bloggers for support.
Thank you all for participating!

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