“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Friday, 27 March 2015

Braided Beet Swirl Bread (Vegan)



Our pathways are littered with leaves of various shapes and hues. It is late spring and the trees are shedding leaves. A gust of wind blows and there is a shower of mottled brown and yellow leaves. Massive magnolia leaves waft rhythmically till they meet the ground while Ashoka leaves come trilling from higher branches. Jamun leaves rock and sway in the gentle wind. More and more leaves keep piling up, making the walkways cushiony. The leaves rustle and crackle and crush as we walk on them. Ultimately, each will become one  with  the Earth, enriching it.


Early in the morning we heard a Bush Chat. Soon we spotted it. It looked at us curiously and carried on with its high notes.




Yesterday, I baked a bread with beets. The colours came out brilliant, celebrating the spirit of spring.




Braided Beet Swirl Bread
Ingredients
Beet Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon sugar
½ cup beet puree (boiled and pureed beets).
Method
Whisk together first four ingredients. Add sugar to beet puree and mix till sugar dissolves.
Add this to flour mix. Knead till the dough comes together. Add some warm water if it feels dry. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes till soft and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around the dough so that it is coated with oil.   Cover and keep in a warm place till it becomes double in size.
Plain Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon instant dry yeast
½ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon sugar
½ cup warm water
Method
Whisk together first four ingredients. Add sugar to water and mix till sugar dissolves.
Add this to flour mix. Knead till the dough comes together. Add some warm water if it feels dry. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes till soft and elastic. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around the dough so that it is coated with oil.   Cover and keep in a warm place till it becomes double in size.





Shaping the braided loaf
Punch plain dough and knead for 2 minutes. Roll it into a rope about 13 cm long.
Punch beet dough and knead for 2 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut dough into two equal parts.
Roll each part into two 13 cm long ropes.
Keep the three ropes together. Bring the ends together, pinch and tuck in. Now braid the ropes tightly. Pinch the ends and tuck in. Grease one 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. Place the braid in the pan. Cover and keep in a warm place for one hour or till it doubles in size.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 35 – 40 minutes or till the loaf turns golden from top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Tent with a foil if the top turns brown early. Remove from oven. Remove from pan after 5 to 7 minutes.
Cool in the rack. Slice when cold or next day.





Sunday, 22 March 2015

Nolen Gur Sandesh | Sandesh with Date Palm Jaggery


The enchanting aroma of lavender melded with the morning air greets on opening the door. Air is nippy but soothing and pleasant. 


The Sun is about to peep from behind the hills. My sister is arriving from the South and we are all excited. We are waiting for the whistle of the train that would announce her arrival. The train arrives on time and she comes with goodies for all. There is animated conversation over cups of tea and snacks. She got us a big slab of date palm jaggery. Smoky, earthy and uniquely flavoured date palm jaggery is relished by everyone.


 I keep a big chunk of jaggery to make sandesh- the famous Bengali delicacy. A generous friend from Kolkatta, Amrita sent me sandesh moulds some time back. There couldn’t have been a better time to try out the delectable sweet.


Nolen Gur Sandesh | Sandesh with Date Palm Jaggery
Ingredients
1 ½ liter full cream milk
¼ cup Vinegar  + 1/8 cup water (water will be half of vinegar)
1 cup crumbled date palm jaggery* 
5-6 cardamoms powdered
* You can also make sandesh with powdered sugar. Adjust sugar according to taste.
Method
Take milk in a pan. Bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat. After 5 minutes, add vinegar and water to milk. Do not add all vinegar and water at a time. Stop adding when the milk begins to curdle. Stir gently after 5 minutes. The cheese and greenish clear whey should separate. Take a muslin cloth on a large strainer and collect cottage cheese. While on strainer, add a glass of water to remove sourness from cottage cheese. Bring edges of cheese cloth together and tie a knot. Squeeze the cheese cloth to remove excess water and hang the cheese cloth for 4 to 5 hours.
Transfer cottage cheese to a plate and mash it with your hands for 15 to 20 minutes. It should become soft and smooth in texture. Add date palm jaggery and cardamom powder. Mash for another 5 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a thick bottom steel wok. Cook on low heat. Stir and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
Turn off the heat. As soon as you are able to handle it, stuff a spoonful of mixture into the mould. Press and gently nudge out. You can also make balls with the mixture.
Serve when cold.



Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wholegrain Vegan Zucchini Chocolate Brownies (Low Fat)


A farm cart loaded with shiny, green and crunchy zucchinis couldn’t be ignored. The vendor poked one with knife and the sap oozed out copiously in a flash. He looked at us smilingly having proved his point that the produce was fresh.


Some days ago, we spotted a Siberian Stonechat in our area.




The birds are silent and stars begin to emerge as the street lights get brighter and the daylight begins to fade. Evening is melting into night. Massive bats emerge from horizon and spread all over. Their Silhouettes are visible as the night has not yet fully donned the cloak of darkness. We wind up our games with the kids for the day and return home followed by the pet cat and the dog who scampers along. Some zucchinis are diced for the veggies while one is shredded for Chocolate Zucchini Brownies.




The brownies come out delicious. Moist, gooey and chocolaty.


Wholegrain Zucchini Chocolate Brownies (Low Fat)
Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini
1 ½ cups muscovado sugar (brown sugar or white sugar will also do)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ to ¾ cup warm water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 7x7 inch cake pan.
Whisk together first five ingredients. Mix oil and powdered sugar. The mixture will have a sandy texture.
Add zucchini and vanilla essence. Pour warm water and mix till you get a smooth batter. Do not over mix.
Add white vinegar. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes. Remove from the pan after another 5 minutes.
Slice next day.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread | Atta Bread | 100 % Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread


 It is a typically Spring weather here. Aroma of mango blossoms linger in the morning air. Cuckoos are audible albeit not very vociferous yet. Groups of babblers hopping on the patches of land strewn with fallen leaves, create a raucous and chase away the squirrels who dare to rummage for food in their space. Floral blooms are reaching their peak, attracting leaf birds and bees that hover around the nectar loaded flowers. Calendulas, Carnations and Pansies don the brightest shades while lavender bears uncountable buds that promise flowers and fragrance in the coming weeks.


 Spring is about freshness, fragrances, colours, liveliness, beauty, vitality and fertility.


Sunny days beckon me to bake a bread. A healthy wholegrain loaf is in the final stages of proofing. The loaf goes into the preheated oven and few minutes later heavenly aroma wafts through! The bread is done.








Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Recipe source- www.kingarthurflour.com
Ingredients
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup milk powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup honey
2 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 ¼ cup to 1 ½ cup warm water (you will require greater quantity of water in winter or in a dry climate and less quantity in summer or a humid climate)
Method
I kneaded the dough by hand. This is how I kneaded dough-
Whisk together first three ingredients. Add oil and mix well.
Take 1 ¼   cup warm water. Add honey. Stir. Add yeast and stir well.
Take dry ingredients in a kneading plate. Add water and mix till you get a shaggy dough. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes. Cover and let the dough rest for 5 to 6 minutes. It will be easier to handle now. Add more water and keep kneading using heel of the hand to push the dough forward and then collecting with fingers pulling it in. Keep kneading till the dough becomes smooth and supple by adding more water if needed.
Dough should be quite soft. Keep adding water to the point you can handle the dough. The stickier/softer your dough, the higher it’ll rise.
Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Turn the dough around so that it is evenly coated with oil. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place till double – about 1 to 2 hours.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8 inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch greased bread pan dusted with cornmeal. Cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap.
Allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Bake the bread for 25 minutes or till the top turns golden brown and the bottom of the pan sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool in the rack. Slice when cold or next day.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

                                                                                                    


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Mocha Fudge With Toasted Nuts


Celebrations, happiness, sharing and enjoying…..Yes this is the spirit of festivals. A little indulgence is acceptable on the special occasions. 


Last week we made Mocha Fudge. 


Melt in the mouth fudge with a hint of coffee and crunch of toasted nuts made everyone fall in love with the dessert.


Mocha Fudge with Toasted Nuts
Ingredients
1 tin condensed milk (400g)
2 ¾  slabs of dark eating chocolate (each slab 150g) or 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
½ cup toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds or any other of your choice)
Method
Line one 7 x 7 inch baking pan with parchment paper extending slightly along the edges.
Combine condensed milk and coffee powder in a thick bottomed pan. Add chocolate. Warm over lowest possible heat. Keep stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in nuts.
Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift the parchment paper from the sides and remove the paper from the fudge. Cut into even pieces.





Monday, 9 March 2015

Beet and Carrot Soup (vegan)


The profusion of blooms and vibrant colours splash the landscape making it a treat for the eyes. It is mid spring…..almost the end of winter. But the chill still persists. It poured last night. We could hear the rain lash on the windows heavily, announcing that the winters are here to stay for some more time.


Yesterday, we perceived some movement behind the lemon tree. It was a white wagtail looking for insects in the wet mud.


Hot afternoons and cool evenings, a bowl of soup just works wonders with dinner. Made Beet Carrot soup yesterday. A simple yet wholesome soup best enjoyed with toasted bread dripping with butter.


Beet and Carrot Soup (Vegan)
Ingredients
1 medium size beet
1 medium size carrot
1 small potato
1 medium size onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 -3  cups water according to desired consistency
Salt and pepper as per taste
Method
Peel the vegetables and chop into small pieces.
Heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add chopped onions. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes till tender. Add rest of the vegetables. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Cook for 2 whistles. Cool.
Transfer to a blender and blend to a liquid.
Add 2 cups water and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve hot with croutons or sprinkle pepper before serving.
You can also serve the soup chilled.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Vegan Wholegrain Pumpkin and Banana Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate chips | Double chocolate Pumpkin and Banana Brownies| Fat less Brownies


Squirrels have always fascinated us. Their beady eyes, their agility, intelligence, swiftness, dauntlessness have won our admiration. There are a lot of squirrels sharing the space in our backyard. We have often seen them sauntering around, clambering trees, leaping from branch to branch and raising alarm on spotting our pet cat hiding in bushes to ambush the birds. Last year, a squirrel would sneak into our veranda and pull strings from the clothes hanging in the clothes line. She would run away with strings, pieces gnawed from rope to make her nest. Once, she even took away the old kitchen scrubber.


A squirrel has been visiting the food table regularly. She scares the birds by feigning to attack them and nibbles the food kept for them. We wait for her every morning and keep nuts for her.


We had a red pumpkin at home and we wanted to make vegan pumpkin chocolate brownies. Pumpkin puree added softness and sweetness to the brownies. The brownies turned out moist and chocolaty……simple and healthy!


                                                           
Wholegrain Pumpkin Brownies (Vegan) with Chocolate Chips | Double Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

Ingredients
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 cup Pumpkin puree*
1 cup muscovado sugar or brown sugar or plain white sugar (powdered)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips

*To make pumpkin puree, peel and slice pumpkin. Make small pieces. Pressure cook in very little water. Drain water and puree the pieces in a blender
You may also adjust sugar according to taste.
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. line the bottom and grease the sides of one 7x7 inch square cake pan.
Whisk together first five ingredients. Keep aside.
In a deep bowl, mix pumpkin puree, sugar and vanilla extract.
Add dry ingredients, stir till well combined. Batter will be thick.
Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool in the rack. Slice next day.


We had half cup pumpkin puree left. Two overripe bananas also needed to be used. The bananas were pureed in the blender and added to the batter. Another batch of brownies was on the way…fingers crossed ..awaiting the result of the experiment. And…Lo! A new recipe was born. The second batch was flavourful,  moist and melt in the mouth.


I seriously suggest that let the brownies rest for a day before you bite into them. Flavours develop fully and the brownies turn soft and moist.


Wholegrain Pumpkin and Banana Chocolate Brownies (Vegan) with Chocolate chips
Ingredients
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
½  cup Pumpkin puree
½ cup banana pureed (about two medium size bananas)
1 cup muscovado sugar or brown sugar or plain white sugar (powdered)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chocolate chips
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. line the bottom and grease the sides of one 7x7 inch square cake pan.
Whisk together first five ingredients. Keep aside.
In a deep bowl, mix pumpkin and banana puree, sugar and vanilla extract.
Add dry ingredients, stir till well combined. Batter will be thick. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool in the rack. Slice next day.



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