Thursday, October 16, 2008

Olive and Feta Cheese Spiced Rustic Bread

Haven't baked bread for a long long time now though I have been itching to get into the kitchen for a spot of baking. Oh the joys of full time work! It's worse when you know one of your birthday gifts was a book on breads by Sara Lewis and you have been using it as bedtime reading, drooling over the pics instead of sinking your teeth into one of them!

Well, though I had a very long Saturday (AGAIN!) I was determined to bake bread. So, broke out the yeast and set to work. The book had some excellent recipes for flavoured breads and I loved the Spiced Potato and Onion bread as well as the Olive and Tomato Tear and Share Bread. So what does this Gemini do when faced with making a decision - combine the recipes and modify them of course! :)

I didn't have time to boil the potatoes since it was already 7 pm. So I decided to use only the fennel and cumin from that recipe and stick to the olive bread for the most part. Since I didn't have any sun dried tomatoes at home, I decided to use feta cheese instead. I know, I know - bear with me - it gets better, I promise. Then to stir things up some more, I fried some chopped onions with the fennel and cumin seeds and kneaded it into the bread and replaced two thirds of the flour with whole wheat flour.

I was a bit worried after this whether the bread would even rise with the different proportions I had used, but I needn't have worried; the flour didn't know about my penchant for experimentation. It doubled beautifully the first time and when I added the olives and feta cheese and kept it for the second proofing, it rose again.

I baked it for 25 minutes and then covered it with foil to prevent it from browning too much and continued baking for another five minutes. The crust was beautiful and the insides were nice and soft. The flavours were really nice - the fennel and the feta cheese being a great combination!

I an sending this to the 3rd World Bread Day being hosted over at Zorro's in celebration of World Bread Day '08 which falls on October 16th this year.
The original World Bread Day - an event created by UIB International Union of Bakers and Bakers-Confectioners - wants to provide an opportunity to talk about bread and bakers, to find out about their history, their importance as well as their future.

Olive and Feta Cheese Spiced Rustic Bread
(Adapted from The Bread Book by Sara Lewis)

Whole Wheat flour - 3 cups
Refined flour - 1 cup and upto half a cup more if needed
Active dried yeast - 2 1/2 tsp
1.5 cups water
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Chopped Olives - 1/2 cup
Feta Cheese - 1/2 cup crumbled

1 big onion chopped fine
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Chilli flakes - 1 tsp
1 tsp oil

1.Warm the water and mix in the sugar and yeast and leave for about 15 minutes till it froths and bubbles.
2.Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin and fennel seeds and when they crackle, add the onions and chilli flakes and fry on low for 5 minutes till soft and browned.
3. Mix both the flours along with the yeast, onion mixture and salt and knead well for about 10 minutes to a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place for about an hour till it rises and doubles in size.
4.Punch the dough down and knead again for about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball 8" inch in size, place on an oiled baking tray and pat in the chopped olives and sprinkle crumbled feta on top.
Keep aside for another half an hour to 45 minutes till it rises again.
5. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180C or 350F for about 25 minutes. If the crust is getting too brown in the last 10 minutes, cover with aluminum foil till done.
6.Remove from the tray and cool on a rack till completely cool.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eral thokku (Prawns in spicy tomato sauce)

I cook prawns at home about four times a year....and the frequency has gone down even more after moving to Delhi. One of the reasons is that I like my prawns delivered home, fresh and cleaned. A rather difficult combination - you usually get frozen prawns cleaned and delivered, fresh prawns are not that easy to get delivered. The other reason is that we tend to order prawns for our meals if we go out to a seafood restaurant and not being big meat eaters don't really miss it all that much.

So, I was more than a little surprised when Hubby suggested we have prawns for Sunday lunch at home. At first I thought he was joking, then closer to lunch time when I asked him again, he said the same thing. Well, I decided then, that at such short notice we would have to do with frozen prawns from the local frozen meats guy. C R Park has an amazing sea food market and is just 5 minutes away from home, but there was no way I was going to negotiate that smelly territory, bargain with the guy and then wait there while it was cleaned!

I usually choose medium sized prawns - I have found that the Jumbo prawns, while they look great aren't as tender as the smaller ones. Marinated them and then stepped out for some grocery shopping. Back after an hour, an onion - tomato base sauteed with spices and the prawns added at the end for about 5 minutes and presto! one lip smacking dish ready for lunch!

I'm sending this dish to this month's edition of Monthly Mingle - Sensational Sides - being hosted by Ruth. Monthly Mingle is the brainchild of Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey.

Eral thokku
Prawns - 300gms
Onions - 2 big finely chopped

Tomatoes - 2 big finely chopped

Garlic cloves - 2-3

Chilli powder - 1 tsp

Coriander powder - 1 tsp

Curry leaves - 6-8

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp

Oil - 1 tbsp

1. Clean the prawns (devein and shell if not already done) thoroughly, making sure they don't have any veins left.

2. Marinate with half a tsp of tumeric powder and a little salt and refrigerate for about half an hour.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the curry leaves.

4. Put in the chopped onions and garlic and saute for about 5-7 minutes till it is translucent.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute till they become pulpy.

6. Put in the chilli powder, coriander powder and salt and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and bring to boil.

7. Reduce flame and simmer, add the marinated prawns and cook covered for 3-4 minutes. Prawns when overcooked tend to get rubbery. If they are fresh they can be cooked for about 5 minutes, frozen prawns may be pre cooked and require lesser cooking time.

8. Turn off the heat, serve warm with rice or rotis.