Almost No-Knead Baguette

February 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

IMG_3207

I am beaming as I write this .. I made a baguette! Ok.. so it was not a traditional, kneaded, labor intensive baguette. But, hey – it was nevertheless a pretty good first baguette and definitely better than a baguette from the local supermarket, which might have been on the shelves for heaven knows how long.

I followed the recipe for the almost no-knead baguette from the King Arthur Flour website. The recipe has been beautifully illustrated with step-by-step photographs in a blog post by P J Hamel on the King Arthur Flour blog as well. However,  I did not have any King Arthur Flour on hand – and I could not wait to try my hand at the recipe. So I used the all purpose flour I had on hand, and the baguette turned out quite well.

IMG_3204IMG_3215

The baguette had a nice crust and a chewy soft interior with loads of irregular air pockets. The recipe requires that the unbaked formed loaf should be sprayed with water before baking. However, I did not have spritzer to spray the dough. So I  gently dabbed the unbaked formed dough with a dampened (and clean) dish cloth instead.

IMG_3221

The yeasty dough and the baguette in the oven filled the apartment with the warm and comforting smell of fresh bread. The recipe is worth attempting just for that. By the way, did you know that there are fragrance oils, incenses sticks, candles etc in ‘fresh baked bread’ fragrance? For me however, this bread does it.

Chili Oranges

February 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

028

Sweet, sour and salty – this chili orange brings back to cold wintery New York a little bit of our trip to the Yucatan in Mexico over Thanksgiving break. It was a short, 4-day vacation – but oh so lovely!. I want to be back there now :(

I generally think that there are so many places to visit in this world, and such little time, that I would much rather go to a new place than revisit a place I have already been to. However, I would go back to Mexico again in a heartbeat.

One of things we really enjoyed in Mexico were green skinned sweet and sour oranges, served with a mixture of salt and chili powder. The chili powder adds a certain earthiness and a little heat, which complements the sweet and sour oranges and the saltiness from…. well.. the salt.

IMG_3068IMG_3075

I did not segment the orange entirely – I removed the skin, but retained the membranes dividing the segments.  We cut the orange into bite size pieces, and tossed the pieces, together with any juices in the  bowl, with chili powder and salt. Yum!

IMG_3077

    Garlic Basil Paneer

    February 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

    This saturday started slowly – it was around 10 in the morning by the time we woke up!! The weather outside was cold and wet with snow and rain. It made a very pretty landscape, but we were happy to stay at home – warm and dry :). The wintery weather called for some serious comfort food and the weekend mindset called for something quick and easy. This dish fit the bill. My mother used to make a variation of this dish and growing up this was a favorite with chapattis, a quick Indian flatbread.

    IMG_3020

    Paneer is an Indian cheese – mild, but creamy and smooth. We really like paneer, but most Indian recipes for paneer include multiple ingredients and many steps. But this dish is quick and easy and hits the spot – with the creaminess from the paneer, the heat from the chilies, the sweet and tart flavor of tomato and the freshness from basil. We ate this with fresh hot chappatis. This would be perfect with rice or naan as well.

    Ingredients:
    340 gms paneer (1 packet), cubed
    4 thai green chilies (we like spicy, use less according to preference), finely chopped
    5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    1 medium onion, finely diced
    2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
    2 tbsp soy sauce
    2 tbsp oyster sauce
    5 basil leaves
    1 tsp vinegar
    3 tbsp oil
    pinch of salt

    • Heat a heavy skillet with 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Add the cubed paneer and fry until lightly brown on each side. Turn frequently to avoid burning. You might have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of the skillet. Transfer the browned panner from the skillet into a bowl of warm water.
    • Add the remaining 2 tbsps of oil to the skillet. Once the oil is heated through, reduce the heat to medium low and add the finely chopped onions, garlic and green chilies. Add a pinch of salt and stir occasionally, until the onions are translucent and soft.
    • Add the tomato paste into the skillet. Take care not to burn. Add 1-2 tbsps of water if the skillet is too dry and the mixture might burn. Stir frequently and cook until the tomato paste is slightly roasted (about 2-3 minutes).
    • Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce and half a cup of water into the skillet.
    • Drain the water in which the paneer was soaking (see Step 1above) and add the paneer to the skillet. Pour enough water in the skillet to cover the paneer cubes. Taste the sauce to adjust seasoning. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover the skillet and keep at a simmer for another 15 minutes.
    • Add 1 tsp of vinegar to the skillet – adjust depending on the tartness of the tomato paste used. Take the skillet off the heat. Roughly tear the basil leaves and add to the pan. Serve immediately.