Thursday, March 23, 2017

No knead jalapeno cheese bread

Mystery stories and baking are my perfect comrades on afternoons that don't demand hustling to get dinner on the table at 7, which anyways, always ends up 9. It's especially of benefit, when the author of this new series, you've just begun(which your boss so graciously lent you;-) creates settings for the deepest darkest murders in cozy bistros amidst platters of warm croissants, and stars a chief Inspector who "stands in the light because he knows where the darkness is." Hmm, even my novel reading has started preaching to me.

In all the engrossing twists and turns of your new read, you feel the call. To create and to eat. Because you are truly, maybe always, very hungry. Is this a general phenomenon or am I just specially inclined that way? Please. Let's not answer that.

It's then you also come to the rather appalling fact that you haven't made an appearance over here in almost a month. I digress. And have no real explanation. Though I promise, I may demostrate today something which might dazzle the socks off you, or maybe your loaf pan. So keep the socks on and stay for the rest of the show. Please.

I didn't have to do much trolling for this. It appeared on my Facebook feed, as a gift, like answered prayer, which is, in fact how God talks a lot to me these days. It works. At least you'll see that in the remaining part our discussion. 

A block of sharp cheese is the only item I needed to make a grocery run for. Any and all remaining components are pantry essentials, plus the two or three can't-live-withouts permanently occupying space in my overflowing Indian cupboard. Thus, without much ado, I brought cheddar bread to light.

When I say a mere 9x 5 loaf vaunts a delirious amount of rich flavor, in no way is it exaggeration. There are a number of reasons the bread is as desirable as it is. First, let's get out of the way the truth that there is nothing mounds of cheese can't and will not make right. Two, with those gleaming  golden shreds, a few red jalapenos go a tremendously long way, amping up on the fierce, thereby adding more finetuned dimension. Third, the synthesis of onion, garlic work in unison with the touch of chaat masala, yielding to a final production so vibrant that has your kids and those you may or may not decide to share with begging for a soon second show. 

I tweaked the original cheddar bread to have it salute, somewhat strongly to my tastebuds.You too, should sync any breadmaking fantasy you may be occupying this very minute and bring it to fruition right now, right here. Like those glutenesque visions of  parsley, sage and cubed swiss?  Slices tucked with powdered chicken bullion and parmesan? Flavored and on fire with quatro Mexican cheese and rings of habanero? It's the dive in and experiment sort of instruction, where many things which spin your mind, belly and very orbit delivers an end that's undeniably good.

There are a lot of things this yeast bread recipe boasts. A fluffy, dense interior, carrying enough air pockets that make it springy to the touch. A credible hardy crust conveying an impressive sandwich bread reminiscence, and compels you to have even those end wedges that nobody wants. Moreover, there is practically no need to knead( like the play?). Why, all this wonderbread truly needs is a cape.

It's a recipe for those days where you desire a little bearing, the oomph/ push required to steer you right, and a dueness to a clear sense of accomplishment. It could very well solve many of the world's problems. Or maybe just yours.

Finally, I'll wrap up this brief baking class, and often, to your chagrin, my soul broodings. It's worth it. So go on, it's yours now. The basic no knead that might be a fundamental part of your life. That should in itself be much bread for thought. 

Do we hear angels sing?

A cupful of sharp cheddar is more than enough to give the loaf the punch it needs without having it taste like Cheetoes. Which probably wouldn't be a bad thing either.
It's the strawberry jam  that did it. Smeared on thickish pieces of bread, you have no way escape. It made me take down 3/4 of my first loaf. Of course, I made a second batch, coz you have to feed the children;-)

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour's no knead cheese bread)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion, fried to a light brown
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic, lightly browned
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • 2 ½ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 red jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds(seed if needed)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup milk(at room temperature)


  • Lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix with hand or on lowest setting of mixer, whisk together onion, garlic, flour, chaat masala, yeast, jalapeno and salt.
  • Stir in the jalapeno.
  • In another bowl, whisk cheese, eggs and milk until blended. Add this to the dry ingredients.
  • Beat for a final 2 minutes on medium speed.
  • Scoop batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan. Cover and allow to rise for approximately 1 1/2 hours- 2 hours.
  • Toward the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and serve warm
  • The bread top browns quickly, so tent with foil about 20 minutes into baking.
  • And for those of you asking," What is chaat masala and where have we seen it before?". Click on the colored type and find out. Still wondering? It's what you've been missing all your life, seasoning that brings to life just about anything it comes into contact with. I urge you. Buy!

More breads~

Last year~

"As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in Him."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spinach rotis/chapatis(Indian flatbread)

Seriously, I ponder about way too many offbeat things. A range of thoughts that can take me hours to recover from, sometimes never wanting to leave. Things that might have you wonder, as it does me, could it just be the results of my overwhelmed/ overworked mind(?) or maybe it's supposed to be that way. I fear on confessing this utterly random headstuff, you may not want to be friends with me again.
And that should never ever happen. Right?

With that said, I'll also mention most of these intentional broodings revolve around food. 

Perhaps now is when I should stop. 

You know, finding recipes and making things that interest my palate are not too difficult a task. The only condition that could have me not sharing would be an interest threshold unmatching yours. Like that bar of chocolate I melted yesterday and poured over my bread, with at least 6 slivers of banana (awesome!) fascinated me no end. I can see how it wouldn't appeal to the general recipe-seeking public.  It's then I believe I should always cede to your likes and demands, though sure can say the three part snack I just gave you is stupendous.

I have them, those peculiarly creative moods, where constant gray days demand bouts of chromatic pop. You've seen how I like to paint my food. It's a nostalgia that stems from grade school, the smell of crayons and playdo that I ate drew with, sentimenting that just doesn't leave you no matter how old you are.

Not that we're using crayons on food. This is where the strange cogitative mindstate I mentioned above shows me I need to color my rice, my dessertsmaybe, even my life.  Really, who wouldn't want to see a rainbow on their plate?

These here are chapatis. Chapatis (chup-aah-thees). What are they? Well, let me educate you, friend, real quick, if you've never encountered Indian food and the thing most normally seen as bread for the entire subcontinent. In loftier parts of the country they're known as rotis and can sometimes be what entire households fixate their meals on. They are made of a fine milled wheat flour, not similar to the horsefeed, some wholewheat often tastes and looks like. Mixed with liquid and kneaded to a soft dough, rotis/chapatis are rolled flat and cooked on a griddle with marginal(in my case plentiful) fat, sometimes not.

Chapatis compensate for the rice/ potatoes, even chewy bread that fill out the richer Western meal.  In actuality, rather than being a mere side, a stack of rotis are main spread on curry splashed plates. They provide a carb source much more nutrient dense than you really want to believe, which could be reason for the thousands of tons of wheat consumed in the world's second most crowded country. That, people, is something to laud. And perhaps model ourselves.

So are chapatis green? No. They are usually the color of wheat. But this is my recipe and if I wish to make them look like superhero skin on fleek, so be it.

They say we eat with our eyes. I did not know, because up until publishing recipes and clicking decently aesthetic pictures of the same, I really did believe my mouth did all the work. Honestly, I like it that way.

However, I do understand that a visually appealing plate of food would make someone with no appetite turn into a wolf... from experience ...hmm(?) Maybe.

The almost neon color is a result of a generous blender yielding me a bountiful supply of leaf-hue pulp to make it so. Fortified with as much as two cups spinach(I use the 16 oz frozen pack) just enough cilantro and a single green chili pepper atta-flour becomes an official foliage-like dough. A task that's actually an easy feat and way better than any smoothie bowl you decided to try this week. Who likes those anyway? 

So-called righteous roti pundits may claim I ruined a beloved staple. That simply cannot be true.  There are several frozen varieties filled and flavored with everything from cheese to pineapple.  Can't you see then I'm only contributing to the innumerable stunning ways to roll roti ?

These have been made in my kitchen quite a lot, with varying levels of leaf dye that sometimes make shades of green slightly unpredictable, but never short of utterly delicious. 

Finally, the below meal can be an archetype of what you place on your tables tonight. A pairing so astounding that it finds place on your weekly supper rotations and may never ever decide leave.

It is terribly hard to mess this up. And if you do, you can blame the two machines, a rolling pin and possibly the skillet for any wrong that could be. Since they do most of the work, I mean.

  • 1 ½ cups chopped frozen spinach, lightly thawed
  • 4-5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper ( Indian green chili), chopped 
  • salt
  • water, if needed
  • 1 ½ cups finely ground wholewheat flour(Indian atta flour), plus more to knead
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or any cooking oil
  • salt
  • water
  • In a blender or mixer, process spinach, cilantro, pepper, salt to a smooth puree.
  • Add in only enough water for it to reach a thickish liquid consistency.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer using knead attachment or bowl of food processor, add green puree and upto 1 cup wheat flour, oil salt. Knead in machine till smooth dough turns out, sifting in additional flour, pouring in sufficient water for mixture to be elastic and pliable.
  • Take dough out on work surface and knead gently a few more times. At this stage it should be smooth and shiny. Cover with a damp clean kitchen towel 10-15 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 1- 2" balls. Roll out one and leave the rest covered.
  • Have a flat top pan or griddle heated to medium on stove. Place rolled out round onto skillet.
  • Heat on both sides, brushing with additional oil if needed(or butter:-) till cooked / burnished with brown spots on both sides.
  • Repeat with remaining balls.
  • These rotis/ chapatis make for an awesome meal with a magnificent accompaniment, such as this or this, this or this.. However, seved with nothing but a few smears of butter alone is also ridiculously epic.
Alternatively, if you need that arm muscle workout, something I definitely qualify for, yet have no desire to  fulfill, by all means use your hands to knead, pull and roll.

The story of Joseph in the OT(Genesis 37-50)❤️God had a divine purpose for Joseph and throughout the oft saddening events of his life, Joseph always kept his eyes on God. And in the end, we come to understand that intended evil can definitely become eventual good, in, by and through His sovereign hands.