Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nancy Silverton's Focaccia

I have been baking Focaccia since I have read about it for the past 5 years. I have made all kinds, pretty bad ones, bad ones, okay ones but never really one that I wanted to keep eating. Then on Kitchn I came across Nancy Silverton's tips to make better Focaccias, which led me to the Masterclass and of course the recipe.

I wanted to try this one and see how it works out and to see for myself if it was really going to be that good as she was saying. The first time I made it, I forgot the preferment inside the fridge for a day. But when I left it outside, it bubbled. I mixed the dough up and let it rise twice and baked the focaccia, which was OUT of this world. I have never managed to make a bread which was so chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I never managed to make a bread with so many holes and so airy. Its my first and am a convert to preferments. :)

One of my favorite bread bloggers "Hefe und Mehr" is having a blog event because her blog is 5 years old and I want to send my bread to this event.

Rolls and rolls and rolls

Comparison of 3 different dinner roll recipes.

In the past 3 days I made bread from 3 different recipes and I want to record my observations.

First come the Parker House Rolls from Joy the Baker. I have had huge success with these rolls. I have made them at least 4 times in the past in various avatars. I made them plain, mixed in seeds, herbs, glazed with milk, topped with seeds and every time they shone. The only time they failed me was when my yeast was really really old. All they needed the next day was a minute in the microwave to become their softer selves. Given the amount of butter in these rolls, I think their softness is to be expected. So I needed to compare them with something else.

So this time I tried Buttermilk Honey Bread from Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible. I was expecting them to be normal buns but I didn't expect them to be so soft, so delicious and so fluffy. The oven rise I got out of them was tremendous. For a recipe which asks for 2 tablespoons butter for roughly 750g Flour, these were exceptionally fluffy. I added half the needed yeast as I had the entire day for them to rise. The author suggests that this is a versatile dough and can be used to make sweet or savory bread. I made some Snail shaped rolls with apple sauce and quince jam for my daughter and made Naan with the remaining dough. Both of them were very very tasty. The only negative that I can see is they are slightly on the sour side because of being almost entirely made with buttermilk. The tang comes through and I dont think it is a bad thing depending on what you are going to use it for. I have decided that I have finally found my burger bun.

After all these I wanted to make a sandwich bread, from my trusted recipe, Peter Reinhart's Light Wheat bread. But I haven't tried anything new from his book for a really long time. So I decided to make the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread. So why am I comparing this with a dinner roll recipe, because I think this is the perfect dinner roll, if you omit the raisins, cinnamon and walnut, this tastes wonderful as a regular roll. The additions take it somewhere else but the basic recipe is still strong for other things as well.

Three winner recipes, each slightly different from each other. I need to make the rolls again so this time I can take photos. For this time I only managed the cinnamon bread.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Acquisition

A Muffin Pan has been in my want list for since ever. I have almost bought it several times and I dont know what stopped me, but until my daughter insisted that I buy one and make small cupcakes for her, I did not end up buying one. It is worth buying. I have already made blueberry muffins and Cinnamon Bubble buns within one week.

I needed some breakfast items that were easy to carry to an amusement park that could be eaten with one hand and on the go. So I chose these muffins and Cinnamon Bubble buns from Flo Braker's Baking for all Occasions. Now on second thought I should have made one savory and one sweet instead of both sweet but no one was complaining.

These blueberry muffins stayed fresh for 3 days even after they were baked and tasted just as good as when they came out of the oven. The dough came together easily. They were not so sweet. I initially skipped the doughnut topping but later just warmed the muffins for a bit and then rolled the tops in butter and then in cinnamon sugar. And then they became even more awesome. The crumb is light and airy.

Cinnamon Bubble buns didnt have a chance to get photographed, so that just gives me another chance to make them. They were the best buns that I have tasted. The sour cream yeast dough a dream to mix by hand. I definitely want to try cinnamon buns or other sweet breads with that dough. Sour cream gives it a slight tang and makes the filling the right amount of sweet. I substituted half of the sour cream with quark, a tangy German curd cheese, since I used up my sour cream for something else. I also did not use the egg, that would make them even softer. These tasted like a muffin form of cinnamon buns with way less butter and sugar than that of cinnamon buns. The sugar caramelized on the top and made them addictive. I think I might have missed dunking some of the dough balls in butter out of laziness so that caused some of them to stick. Next time I am going to be thorough. After waxing on so much about them I need to make them again and take a picture.

I find Flo Braker's recipes very involved so usually I go and find something else similar to make. But this time both of the recipes came out really well. So I am going to turn to her more.

I have more ideas for this muffin pan. Especially with so many ideas on pinterest and Internet about a muffin pan being not just for muffins. I have my eyes set upon Garlic Rolls baked you know in what. :) 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jan 26: Okra Fry & Sorrel Dal

There are so many ways to get Bhindi wrong and I have probably been to all those places. 

I have used way too much oil, mixed in yogurt to get rid of its sliminess, added besan, rice flour, etc. When these didnt work, I changed pans, non-stick to my usual aluminium handi. Non-stick worked at times, but at times I ruined it too. It was not consistent. But getting the same results in a cast iron pan made me realize it was not the pan either. 

After so many wrong turns, I finally realized the key was giving it time and not disturbing it while it is transforming itself into this wonderful curry, not rushing it, not mixing it way too much, but just letting it be. Not crowding it too much, then they will turn into mush. Let them cook covered till they lose their bright green and become very slimy, and then without a lid till they lose all of it. Ignore it more than it needs, then all you would have in your hands are too crunchy and dark bits of Bhindi which are a little over the top. Though that tastes nice to me, but that's just me. 

This has worked for me consistently more than any tip to get Okra to be its delicious self. 

Sorrel Dal: Chukkakoora (Sorrel) would benefit with a chopped garlic in the tadka as it is sour in nature. I remembered that when I was eating it. Next time. 

Jan 25: Besan Paratha

I had it bookmarked since ever. Besan Paratha by Anita from A Mad Tea Party

I finally tried it for dinner. Didn't improvise on anything, no tweaks, none whatsoever. Its kind of rare for me, but the recipe was simple and didn't call for untoward ingredients also. 

Dough and the besan paste didnt take much time at all. I could easily make one when one was frying on the pan. 

Verdict: Fabulously flaky, delicious parathas. I wonder whether it is the oil in the mixture or the besan, I never get my parathas so flaky. Wouldnt change the Ajwain seeds for anything, they make it what it is. 

Tweaks possibleIn fact the suggestions made in the recipe are very viable, I was wondering about the finely chopped garlic/methi as an addition to the chopped coriander I was using. Chopped green chillies probably, skipping the chilli powder in the paste. Would roasted gram flour will be an overkill? 

Next time. There will be definitely a next time, preferably for breakfast, this is a tad too heavy for dinner. And remember to serve with yogurt, it doesn't need anything else. 


Why a new blog?

I already do have one to record my experiments, though I havent updated it in years. I didnt reuse the same place for a new one, as it is absurdly easy to get a new one. I am indeed planning to abandon that one and record my lunches and dinners here.

I need a food diary, of what I cooked and what worked, what didn't and what could be tweaked to make it work or why it is useless to pursue that particular dish. More like a dish diary. What the original dish was, how I tweaked it to make it work, whether that tweak worked or probably destroyed the dish forever. Does it have a hope for coming on to the table in future. I tried doing this offline but I havent been able to keep it up beyond a day. :D Lets see the fate of this blog.

I have a couple of resolutions on my cooking, to make the basics, master them and then try doing all the fantastic things that I keep dreaming about. What is the point in trying to make a Biryani when I basically suck at all the basic Pulaos and Fried rices. :) I have a better success rate with Parathas and Naans than with rice. Leaving carbohydrates altogether from the diet is another fantastic thing I keep thinking about, but its not coming true any time soon given my love for all things wheat.

Anyways, this blog is for me to keep track of the lunch/dinner options that I have tried making and whether they were a success or a failure and why.