Look, I baked my own bread!

I have tried to bake bread at home several times before, but sometimes the yeast wouldn’t rise, sometimes it would turn out to be a brick and sometimes it would taste like straw. In effect, epic fail, every single time. Until, that wonderful day when I chanced upon Alexandra’s Kitchen, and landed on her mother’s recipe for the perfect peasant bread. And if she claims that this is the best & easiest recipe, then just believe her, ’cause it just is! How she gets the ideal water temperature for the yeast to activate is the coolest tip ever, I tell you it always works. She uses 3 parts cold water to 1 part boiling water (right off the water kettle, for instance), and then equal parts of sugar & dry yeast. No more dormant yeast in my kitchen, hah! Plus it’s no-knead bread, so much better than one that requires muscle power, right? I’ve tried a few variations of the original, it’s turned out super delicious each time. As my colleague said, I’m now ready to be a grand-mom ūüėÄ Here’s me showing off my newly acquired grand-mom skills ūüėé

My first attempt was to follow the recipe word by word. I really surprised myself with the result. I guess I didn’t have any expectations at all, heh heh.

Next time, I tried to mix the all purpose flour with wholewheat flour in the ratio 3:1, and added some dill. I also baked it in small cupcake moulds, and ramekins just to see how that went. The dill smelt & tasted so good, and these were great for breakfast.

The third time I tried to up the health quotient a bit more by changing the flour ratio to 5:3, the bread was slightly denser, but still quite fluffy. I think I’ll keep this as my standard, any more of the wholewheat will probably not be as yummy. I also put in some chopped up olives and sun dried tomatoes, which made by bread oh-so-fancy!

Do you have a perfect go-to recipe that you swear by? I’d love to know!

Breakfast in a jar

I’ve never been a morning person. Which makes my breakfast habits kinda erratic. On good days I might be able to sit down with a bowl of cereal, but most days I am running out the door with a cookie in my hand. Digestive, not chocolate chip, heh heh ūüėČ Sometimes I buy a¬†¬†sandwich or a yogurt, but I can’t say that it’s¬†a habit.

The other day when I bought a yogurt cup, I thought, ‘I could do that myself’. And the next thought was, ‘Well, why don’t I?!’

Feeling inspired I Googled ‘breakfast in a jar recipes’ and found so many interesting articles like¬†this one and that one. Great thing is I don’t¬†need to be a pro at this – basically fruit layered with yogurt layered with nuts layered with cereals. I can rattle off a list of options to choose from –¬†oats, granola, regular cereals, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, frozen fruit, frozen berries, honey, seeds, jams, jellies and what-not. The possibilities are endless, and I¬†can tailor this to whatever I feel for on that day. Or the night before, in case I do the overnight version. No more missing breakfast!

  Yogurt, melon, honey, sunflower seed, flax seed, nuts, raisins, dry oats.

Frozen  fruit, yogurt, nuts, golden raisins, oats, granola.

Yogurt, jam, nuts, banana slices, granola.

 Kvarg, sunflower seeds, fried figs, oats.

True to my roots

I cooked a true blue Bengali dish today. “Lau Chingri” or bottle gourd/ opo squash/ long melon with shrimps.

For those who grew up in a Bengali household, this dish wouldn’t be an uncommon name. However, I’m no pro at the proper stuff that my mother and grandmother create as if by magic. So I sorta patted myself on the back upon tasting the result. As for Mr.A, he had never heard of the combination but nevertheless enjoyed the ‘new’ flavors. I took help from this recipe, and made only minor changes here & there. Overall I pretty much followed the instructions.

Note to self: Ask Ma to prepare this the next time we meet.

No-bake cheesecake

I never imagined¬†cheesecake could be easy, until I actually got around to make one myself. Of course, you already read the ‘no bake’ in the header which means I half-cheated, but hey, I had to do what I had¬†to, to get me a cheesecake! Or rather, it was for Mr.A, for his birthday ūüôā

This recipe teaches you how to make a great dessert in 4 easy steps. Plus, it does not have eggs in the mixture, unlike most baked cheesecakes, so it’s a great dessert option for vegetarians, too. I followed the instructions carefully, but made a small change. I mixed some chocolate chips in the cheese mixture before laying it out on the biscuit base. And before serving, I drizzled a bit of chocolate syrup over the top. Mr.A fell in love with this one, and I was quite pleased myself. I did eventually try the strawberry topping as well – he liked it even better with the strawberries but I couldn’t, even in my weakest moment, betray my loyalty to chocolate.¬†In any case,¬†that one went down so fast that¬†I never got a chance to click any pics…maybe next time, since now I’m such a pro ūüėČ

More foodie posts here!

Sweet talk

I can’t boast about being a great cook. Some of my brutally honest friends will vouch for that. But I can’t help but gloat over my very successful attempt at making gajar ka halva (carrot halva) for a pot-luck lunch. Carrot halva is an extremely popular dessert served throughout India. It is made out of grated carrots, slowly cooked with milk over a low heat, flavored with nuts and raisins, infused with the aroma of crushed cardamoms. Mention the word to¬†any Indian, and you will probably¬†hear a heart-felt account of childhood memories involving cold winter days and a house smelling like heaven and mom cooking them their favorite dessert ūüôā

I followed this recipe¬†from Radhika‘s blog called¬†ticklingpalates.com, which features a superb collection of¬†Indian vegetarian recipes.

Fun fact: check out¬†what Wikipedia talks about¬†the etymology of the word¬†halva¬†– turns out ‘Halva’, or a slight variation of the word, used to describe some kind of sweet in about 30 different countries!

Update: Incidentally, my post is just apt for the Daily Post’s prompt – “Local Flavor“!