‘Schiacciata con L’uva’ aka Focaccia with grapes.

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It is the season for grapes and where I live,we are blessed with all varieties of the juicy fruit. Some kind soul sent us a huge lot of these jewel like pretty grapes and I was worried they would spoil if I do not use them up soon.
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Unfounded fears totally! We’ve snacked on them like there’s no tomorrow!! Before the last bunch vanished, I had to try this mildly sweet and totally delicious flatbread – ‘Schiacciata con L’uva’, which translates to Focaccia with grapes.
It is a glorious explosion of flavours with the best quality grapes, some rosemary,a sprinkle of brown sugar and some sea salt! A big shout of thanks to my friend Megha Vikram Singh for the recipe idea! We loved it Meg ❤
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I changed the toppings on my go-to Focaccia recipe and had this awesome crunchy delight to savour!

Ingredients

For the Focaccia dough

2  cups – All purpose flour  (Maida)
1 ¼  tsp dry yeast or ½ teaspoon Instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk/chhas/taak (at room temperature)
¼ cup just-warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the topping

A bunch of grapes, red/black
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp rosemary fresh/dried
A pinch of salt
1 tsp brown/white sugar (or more if you like sweeter)

Prove the yeast – add the sugar to ¼ cup of warm water. Mix well. The water has to be just the right temperature- not too hot because that will kill the yeast not too cool because the yeast won’t prove. Drop some on the back of your wrist and it should feel warm there. Add the yeast and rest covered for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should froth like soapy bubbles. If it doesn’t, throw the mix and start afresh. Proper proving of the yeast is vital to good bread!
In a big bowl, take the flour and salt. Mix.
Once the yeast has bloomed, add it to the flour and knead the dough with the buttermilk. It will be sticky and it is meant to be like that.
Add the Olive oil and knead for another 10-12 minutes.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film, or a kitchen towel and rest for 11/2 to 2 hours. The dough should double up. The time actually depends on the weather conditions-if very hot, it doubles sooner than the 1 ½ hours. This is the first prove.

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Remove from the bowl once the dough is doubled and gently knock out the air.
Roll it out into a square or circle as desired and place on to a greased baking dish. This amount of dough will give two regular sized focaccias.

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Drizzle some olive oil over the Focaccia and sprinkle the rosemary, salt and sugar.
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Arrange the grapes all over the flatbread. Sprinkle some more sugar, salt and drizzle some olive oil.
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Cover with cling film or a kitchen towel taking care to that they do not touch the top of the bread. Leave to rise again for about 45 minutes. This is the second prove
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When there are 20 minutes to go, pre-heat the oven at 200C.
Bake for 20 minutes, till the top browns.  If doing in an oven with two elements, please keep both on
Serve fresh out of the oven.Enjoy with some cheese and wine. Or with coffee! It works beautifully.
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White Sauce or Béchamel

Back to basics time today  🙂
Here is a pictorial on the Béchamel or white sauce. It is simply flour roasted in butter and then milk added to it gradually till it thickens. It is then seasoned with salt and pepper to get the basic white sauce. Grated cheese may be added once it is off the heat to get cheese sauce. I use it for pastas and au gratins and for quick lunch box fixes like this Mixed Vegetable Macroni
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Ingredients

APF/Maida- 1 Tbsp
Butter- 1 ½ Tbsp
Milk- One cup (May add more to get a thinner sauce)
Salt- ½ Tsp
Black pepper- ½ tsp
Grated cheddar cheese- ½ cup (optional)
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Heat the butter in a saucepan.
Keeping the heat on medium, add the flour and roast till it changes colour slightly.
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We are looking for a blonde/ dark cream colour. This is the roux. Keep stirring at all times. It burns very quickly.
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Add the milk gradually, stirring non-stop, till all the milk is used up.
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Stir well and cook another couple of minutes and your basic white sauce is ready.
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Season it with salt and pepper.
To get a cheesy sauce, add half a cup of grated cheddar after talking the sauce off the heat.

Mixed Vegetable Macaroni 

Here is a quick Mixed Vegetable Pasta just perfect for the lunch box.
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For this, as soon as the sauce begins to thicken ,I throw in half a cup of mixed vegetables chopped very fine and half a cup of boiled macaroni.
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Add some oregano or herb spice mix, stir and done!

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I skip the cheese for the lunch box as in makes the sauce sticky on cooling down.

This pasta went to school with some stuffed focaccia. You can find the recipe for the basic Focaccia here. I just stuffed it with some stir fried vegetables and cheese. Then rolled it and baked in a loaf tin.
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I am a happy Mommie when the Lunch box comes back all clean!

Garlic and cilantro pull apart rolls with home made butter

 

Baking is therapeutic, Baking is fun and baking in big lots before the weekend is most of the breakfast job done!
I am now trying to work on basic proportion for dough that can be used for different kinds of breads. This Friday morning made garlic and cilantro pull apart rolls with home made butter.Universally loved and approved 😀  This dough gives soft rolls and can also be used to make burger buns.
Pull apart garlic and cilantro rolls

 

Ingredients

For the  dough

3  cups All purpose flour  (Maida)
1 tsp Instant yeast or 1 1/4 tsp Active dry yeast (If using active dry,proof in 1/4 cup of warm milk and a tsp of sugar from the recipe)
1 tsp sugar
1/2  tsp salt
1 cup warm milk
2 Tbsp olive oil/butter

For the filling

Mix all the ingredients given below to prepare the filling.

2 Tbsp butter at room temperature(I used home made butter)
1 tsp mixed herbs (Optional) oregano,basil,rosemary and garlic powder,can use fresh or dry
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp salt (If using unsalted butter)
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp fine chopped cilantro/coriander leaves

  1. If using active dry yeast: Prove the yeast by adding the sugar to 1/4 cup of warm milk (from the total 1 cup of milk) . Mix well. The milk has to be just the right temperature- not too hot because that will kill the yeast not too cool because the yeast won’t prove. Drop some on the back of your wrist and it should feel warm there. Add the yeast and rest covered for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should froth like soapy bubbles. If it doesn’t, throw the mix and start afresh. Proper proving of the yeast is vital to good bread!
    If using instant yeast : it can be added to the flour directly.
  2. In a big bowl, take the flour, salt butter,sugar and yeast. Mix well.
  3. Slowly adding the warm milk, knead till you get a soft and smooth dough. It takes about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film, or a kitchen towel and rest till it doubles. it took me an hour, but may take longer in cold weather and less time when the weather is warm and humid. Watch the dough rather than the clock! The dough should double up. This is the first prove.
  5. Remove from the bowl once the dough is doubled and gently knock out the air. Split it into two and roll each out into a  a rectangle about one inch thick. Spread the filling generously.
  6. Roll the circle/square to make a cylinder.
  7. Cut into equal pieces using a pizza-cutter or a knife
  8. Place the cut cylinders into a well greased baking pan
  9. Cover and let it rise for till the rolls are nice, puffy and doubled up.
  10. When there are 20 minutes to go, pre-heat the oven at 200C.
  11. Brush gently with milk and bake  at 180C for 20-25 minutes till golden brown
  12. Serve fresh out of the oven.
    Garlic Cilantro Pull apart Rolls prep

The pull aparts are great on their own or can be served for any of the meals really.
Have a great weekend! 🙂

Three Pepper Fusilli/ Pasta

Friday is here and it is time for Fiesta Friday at Angie’s. I am bringing a delicious pasta to the party,full of hidden vegetables!
Three Pepper Fusilli!

Pasta gets made at least once a weak in my kitchen.As much as my boys love pasta, the chopped vegetables go uneaten, no matter how fine I chop them. So, like all good Moms I have learnt to sneak in as many vegetables I can into the sauces. Friday lunch was this delicious Three Pepper Fusili with our favourite bread of all seasons, a  mixed-herb Focaccia and some mini-buns.
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THREE PEPPER FUSILLI

Fusilli pasta- 500 Gms

Boil the Fusili till al dente (as per the instructions on the pack)

THREE PEPPER MARINARA/PIZZA SAUCE


Ingredients

Onions- 2 large, finely chopped
Garlic- 7-8 cloves, minced
Tomatoes- 8-10 large, pureed
All three peppers- 2 of each, chopped into cubes
Olive oil- 2 tbsp
Salt to tase
Oregano and mixed herbs- 1 Tbsp
Black Pepper crushed – 1 tsp
Chilly flakes- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Tomato ketchup – 2 tbsp (optional)
Fresh Cream/malai- 2 Tbsp

These proportions make a biggish batch. I use as needed and refrigerate the rest in a glass bottle.

Heat the oil. Add garlic and onions. Fry till onions are transparent. Add in the tomato puree and cook uncovered for ten minutes.
Grind the peppers in the mixie to a coarse paste. Add to the tomato onion mix. Add salt, black pepper, oregano, mixed herbs and tomato ketchup ( if using).Cook covered on low heat for about 20 minues. Keep checking and stirring to avoid burning.

You will get a thick, rich and aromatic sauce. The three pepper paste really adds a lovely flavour and reduces the sourness of the tomatoes. Great way to add veggies to the sauce too!

 

To assemble- Heat the sauce and add in the sauce. Simmer for a minutes and turn off. Stir in 2 Tbsp fresh cream. Add in the fusilli.
Enjoy with fresh home-made focaccia or some dinner rolls.
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A simple focaccia- my first bread ever!

THE FORGIVING FOCACCIA- a Baking Beginner’s Delight

The first bread I ever baked! And it remains my favourite to date 😀

Fresh Basil and cherry tomato focaccia

‘Mom, it smells like an Italian kitchen in here!!’, yelled my 13 year old in abandoned joy.
And I felt like joining him because I was baking my first bread-ever!!
The first prove and the second prove were periods of anxiety.Have I the right yeast! Am I doing it the right way!
(If those sound like alien terms, don’t you worry- they were strangers to me  till a month back!)

Eventually, when we bit into it, it was the best focaccia we’d ever had,soft inside, a hint of crunch on the outside.And I was a happy Mamma (Mia)!!

I call it ‘The Forgiving Focaccia’ as it is almost impossible to go wrong with it! A perfect start for your baking journey as it was for mine 🙂

Here is the super-simple recipe. The recipe is inspired and simplified from my friend Priyanka Chakraborty’s recipe here

For the focaccia dough
2  cups – All purpose flour  (Maida)
1 ¼  tsp dry yeast or ½ teaspoon Instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk/chhas/taak (at room temperature)
¼ cup just-warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the topping

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mixed herbs – oregano,basil,rosemary and garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
4-5 cherry tomatoes halved or a large tomato, sliced
A few leaves of fresh basil

Prove the yeast – (Now what does that mean? Here you go) Add the sugar to ¼ cup of warm water. Mix well. The water has to be just the right temperature- not too hot because that will kill the yeast not too cool because the yeast won’t prove. Drop some on the back of your wrist and it should feel warm there. Add the yeast and rest covered for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should froth like soapy bubbles. If it doesn’t, throw the mix and start afresh. Proper proving of the yeast is vital to good bread!
In a big bowl, take the flour and salt. Mix well.
Once the yeast has bloomed, add it to the flour and knead the dough with the buttermilk. It will be sticky and it is meant to be like that.
Add the Olive oil and knead for another 10-12 minutes. You will have a soft and manageable dough now.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film, or a kitchen towel and rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough should double up. The time actually depends on the weather conditions-if very hot, it doubles sooner than the 1 ½ hours. This is the first prove.

Making bread at home Remove from the bowl once the dough is doubled and gently knock out the air.
Roll it out into a large recrtange,square or circle as desired and place on to a greased baking dish.
Cover with cling film or a kitchen towel taking care that they do not touch the top of the bread. Leave to rise again for about 30 minutes. This is the second prove.
When there are 20 minutes to go, pre-heat the oven at 200C.
Make dimples on the surface of the bread, gently with your fingertip, so that you don’t deflate it. Drizzle olive oil generously, filling up the dimples made over the surface of the focaccia.
Sprinkle some dry herb mixture and garlic powder (or a tsp of garlic crushed fine) Brush with oil all over the surface with gentle hands.Stick the cherry tomatoes into the bread.

making focaccia at home
Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C, till the top changes colour slighty. If doing in an oven with two elements, please keep both on.
Remove from over, sprinkle some shredded basil leaves and bake for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack for 8-10 minutes, slice and serve fresh out of the oven.

Focaccia Caprese

  1. This dough keeps well in the refrigerator too. I cling filmed it tight and put it in last night. This morning, removed, got it back to room temperature and baked. Works well 🙂
  2. Baked bread can be sliced , wrapped in paper towels and frozen in ziplock bags. Before using, thaw and put into a hot oven for 10 odd minutes and it is as good as fresh 🙂

A look at the lovely crumb. The crust is nice and crunchy and the insides, very soft!

Focaccia Basil and cherry tomatoes
And since I made this, I am totally and absolutely bitten by the baking bug and am baking almost thrice a week!

More madness to follow!

Cheers and Happy Baking! 😀