Hiya folks!! :)
Well....Father's day went well for us last Sunday. "Da daddy" was on call but took some time off until lunch time. We went out to his favorite restaurant and then we gave a quick visit to a Indian store nearby. Quick because I buy 1/4 of the what they have in the store if somebody doesn't drag me out of there quickly, I get pre-warnings! ;D
Sometimes Indian store lady shakes her head and says I buy too many packs of savory snacks!! :P
The minute she sees me, she says "oh, so nice to see you again" and starts talking to me about her kids and their education which I don't mind at all! Her son is in Medical school, so I get some great pointers my own kids could use! :)
We loved the barn color so much that we asked the guy if he could paint our deck with the same color too and he did! Here it is, updated! Do you remember the old photo of the same deck when that Bottle Gourd plant took over last Summer?
Coming to this week's menu, I baked some "French" bread last week and made a delicious "Italian" bread salad called Panzanella , with my extra non-traditional additions like Avocado and Jicama using the French bread cubes. It's so very hot these days, I don't feel like cooking infront of the hot stove but I have no choice, somebody got to feed the family! Baking and making salads are lot easier! Hope you like these.
A good French bread should have crunchy crust outside and soft and chewy inside. To achieve crispier crust than the normal like you see here, you spray the French bread with water before baking and put a bowl of water next to the bread in the oven while it's baking. This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker's baking book.
Inside Twister story! :D
Rolling the dough like Swiss roll while shaping the French loaves gives twisted soft insides like this with a perfect crunchy crust outside, beautiful!
A quick tip: Always better to bake a little less than more, even though baking time says 30mins to avoid over baking. Each oven is different in terms of maintaining the temperature. If I say bake for 25-30 mins, keep the timer for 20 mins and then watch the bread to get a golden color without opening the oven door. After 25 mins, open the door, tap on the bread. If it sounds hollow, time to get them out even if it's not 30 mins! Good luck! :)
How to bake French Bread, You need:
3 to 3 1/2 cups of plain flour or Bread flour,
1 tbsp Sugar,
1 tsp Salt,
1 pack of regular active dry Yeast or quick active dry Yeast,
1 cup very warm water (115F to 120F),
2 tbsp Vegetable oil,
2 tbsp corn meal or Semolina,
1 Egg White,
1 tbsp cold water.
One French bread baking pan if you have it or a regular rectangular baking pan.
(Click on the collage to enlarge it)
To bake French bread:
1. In a large stand mixer bowl, add 2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix gently. Add warm water and oil. Beat for 1 minute on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl.
2. Now beat it for 1 minute at medium speed. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour from the rest of 1 1/2 cups of flour at a time until you get a soft dough.
(Use as much flour as you need, don't have to use all 3 1/2 cups of flour. How much flour to add depends on what kind of flour you have, use your judgment to make soft dough.)
3. Knead for 5 mins until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease the oil all over the dough , cover and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until it's double in size.
(French bread needs to rest longer than the other breads to get that typical texture, so be patient! I put the bowl in the oven with oven light on, gives it a right amount of warmth.)
4. Grease a cookie sheet, sprinkle Cornmeal or Semolina on the sheet or just spray no-stick oil on the French bread baking pan.
5. Punch down the dough, divide into two equal portions. Roll out each to 15" by 8" rectangle. Roll from the longer edge like swiss roll tightly, seal the ends by pinching the edges.
6. Now, roll the whole thing back and forth gently to make the French bread even in the middle and tapered at the ends. Place the loaves on the sheet gently.
7. Cut 1/4" deep across the top as shown at 2" apart with a sharp knife. Brush or spray loaves with water. Cover with clean Towel and let it rise again for an hour or until double.
8. Preheat the oven to 375F. For the golden crust, mix egg white and 1 tbsp water and brush on the loaves.
(If you want crispier crust, this is time you spray some more water on the loaves and place a bowl of water in the oven)
9. Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until golden. Cool them on the rack. Best eaten these on the same day. Wrap in Saran wrap or cling film if you need to to store. Stiff bread is aways good for salad! Voila!! :)
Panzanella is Italian Bread salad made with day old hard crusted bread, originating in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio, specially eaten in Summer months, according to WIKI. You can practically add as many vegs as you like including Lettuce, Celery, Carrots, boiled eggs, Tuna etc. I used my French bread for this, had a good crunch in salad!
How to make Panzanella:
Take about 4 cups of French bread or any hard crusted bread or even chunky ready made package of Croutons, cut into 1" cubes. Add some salt and saute the cubes in about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan in batches until golden outside.Cool and set aside.
Chop these or any salad veggies you like:
1 Cucumber, peeled and chopped,
1 large Tomato,chopped,
1 cup mixed bell pepper or roasted bottled red pepper, chopped,
1 small red onion,
1 Avocado, chopped my style (not Traditional Italian)
1/4 cup Jicama, thinly sliced,
1 tbsp drained Capers (bottled),
1 tsp dry Basil and Oregano, 2 tbsp each if using fresh herbs,
1 tsp Parsley and 1 tsp finely chopped Mint leaves, dry or fresh.
To make salad oil, whisk these together:
4 tbsp Olive oil,
2 tbsp of good quality White Wine Vinegar or to taste,
1 tsp of Lemon juice,
1 tsp Dijon Mustard,
1 large Garlic, finely chopped,
salt and pepper. Few chili flakes, optional.
Get ready to toss!
In a big bowl, add vegetables and salad oil, mix well. Add bread cubes, toss everything together, season well. Cover and let it sit for 30mins before eating it. Tastes wonderful!
I even kept the left over chilled overnight and ate it for next day's lunch. Avocado gives it a creaminess and beautiful color!
Bon Appetit! :)
Book I read: Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami.
It's a story of a woman called Saroja, who is a young housewife, married to a much older Railway officer and has two daughters. She is called as "Tamarind woman" by people who know because of her acid tongue or the way she speaks to people with resentment and using hurtful words, just as sour as Tamarind.
As her story unravels by the memory of her older daughter Kamini, now all grown up, lives and works in Canada, you will start to resent Saroja but at the end of the story, as Saroja "the Tamarind woman" herself recalls her own life story, you will understand why she was so angry all her life and the secret she was hiding form her husband who is now dead.
Finally, she sells her home and all her belonging and wants "to see the World" alone by train as she always wanted but never could while her husband was alive, much to the surprise and concern of her daughters, who just think that she has gone crazy!
As you read you feel sorry for Saroja, sympathize, admire her guts and you will also understand what she has gone thru' her life and how she had to cope. When her daughters starts pestering her to go home and stay there, without trying to understand why she needs to do the things she is doing, Saroja unplugs her phone!! At last, she will do what SHE wants!!
That's where the story ends! It's very compelling story that could be any woman's story in India, even in today's World!
Dishes I tried last week:
Lasooni dal palak from Swati's blog.
Badanekayi pudi Kuttida palya from Ramya's blog.
Greens Paratha from TC's blog. (I added Red chard and fresh Rosemary, yum!)
Sprouted Moong Idli from smn's blog.
Brinjal Mooru Kootan from Prav's blog.
Udupi Sambhar from Sia's blog.
Vandana, Ranji, Kamala, Asankhana, Sukanya and Nanditha Prabhu, thank you for your awards.
Neema from "recipe swap" gave me two awards last week. Thank you so much Neema, I appreciate it!:))
One of them, you can see the "Blogging with a Purpose" award on the sidebar. I am passing this award on to Ramya, Srivalli , Meera and Ranji. Enjoy girls!:)
See you all next week!:)
June 18, 2008
Hiya folks!! :)