Category Archives: Breads

Zingy Cornbread

Back in November last year, college mate Sudha shared this recipe on the class TG group, after she’d made it for Thanksgiving.

That was great timing for me, because a dear friend was going to visit that weekend and I was looking around for new ideas for a vegetarian starter to serve with the wine.

The very idea of cornmeal appeals to my Punjabi tastebuds 🙂 Which might explain why I’m drawn to and order polenta, or dishes that include polenta, in restaurants time and again, even though I don’t like  very much the way that it’s made !  And, of course, cornbread is one of those American traditions one has read about in so many books, and so, in a way, it didn’t feel like I would be taking on something alien or unknown!

So though I rarely risk trying a new recipe on guests, this time I did, and was so relieved and pleased that everyone loved it!

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

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(this is an improvised version of Chef Ina Garten’s recipe, from the Food Network)

1.5 cups of whole wheat flour and 1.5 cups of plain flour
1 cup of cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 tablespoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 cups of milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
200 gms of unsalted butter (melted)
200-250 gms of grated Cheddar or Gouda cheese
3 tablespoons of minced jalapeno peppers (fresh or bottled)

Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter and stir into the dry ingredients until the lumps are dissolved. Now add  the cheese (keep about 3 tablespoons aside to sprinkle on the top), and the jalapenos, and leave the mixture at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, for about 4 minutes. In the meanwhile lightly oil or butter a baking dish and turn the batter into it. Smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for about half and hour, till the bread tests done (stick in a knife, or a long barbecue stick, to see if it comes out clean. It should). By this time, the top will have a lovely light-brown crust too.

Let the bread cool in the baking dish and then cut into small squares, and serve. You could drizzle a little olive oil on each slice before serving if the bread seems too dry. Another nice  accompaniment, we’ve found, is garlic-and-chive flavored cream cheese, if you want to use the leftovers at breakfast as we did !

Best eaten a little warm.

 

 

Date, Walnut and Sesame Loaf

What a pleasure to make a good, delicious loaf of bread, and to have done that in a regular oven and not a bread-maker!

date and honey loaf

Oats & Whole Wheat Bread

After Indira had eaten a slice of this bread tonight, she said, “I can’t imagine why I didn’t like it when you made it before”.

She was saying that because I’d told them earlier today that when I made it many years ago in France, I can’t remember any of them eating it with too much enthusiasm. But I’ve held on to the recipe, copied on a single sheet of part from the internet long ago, all these years because i remember that I’d liked it more than a little; it has a full taste with just the tiniest hint of the sweetness of the honey that goes in to it.

I’m really glad that both of them like this tonight, it will be a handy option for their breakfast and lunch boxes for school every once in a while. And it is SO quick to make too.

Honey-Oat Bread

For 1 small loaf or Boule de Pain (that latter is the shape I aimed for today and was so pleased that it worked out !) –

1 cup of rolled oats, ground in the blender of a food processor (I don’t think it is necessary to grind the cereal too fine; leaving it just a little rough makes for bread with a nice, grainy texture)

1 cup of whole wheat flour

2 level teaspoons of baking powder (if the cup you use is of 200-250 ml measure. else, make that 1.5 teaspoons as I did because the cup I use is a 180ml measure)

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1 and a 1/2 tablespoons of honey

1 cup of milk

1 tablespoon of oil

Combine the two flours, and mix in the salt and baking powder. In another bowl, combine the milk, the oil and the honey. Now stir this in to the flour mixture and and knead till the dough is formed. Shape it (you may need to oil your hands a little to handle the dough) to give it the form of a flat -rather than high- loaf or boule, then place on an oiled baking sheet. Pre-heat the oven to 230 degrees C (though I baked the bread today at 200 degrees C because I use Samsung’s “Speedcook” oven these days. This model typically cooks everything at about 20 degrees lower than the temperature mentioned in any standard recipe, and usually in much less time than is advised, as well), and then bake the bread till the top is an even brown and the bottom sounds hollow when knocked. This should take about 20-30 minutes.

Cut thin slices just before eating, and drizzle olive oil or spread some softened butter over each.

As I said, there’s just that hint of sweetness here, and a very satisfying, full taste. Nice 🙂

Aloo Kulchas

During our stay in Jamshedpur recently- we were there for three weeks till we got to Mumbai this last weekend – I had the most amazing aloo kulchas at Gunchu Didi’s home, which she’d bought from the canteen in her school where they make these to order. In fact I liked them so much that when she and Usha Masi and Vijay Bhaiya cam home for dinner, I asked her to buy some for that evening too.

I can’t remember the last time an Indian bread made such an impression on me; not, I think, since the delicious, wonderfully soft and thin Maharashtrian polis that Vasanti made for us when we visited her in Pune once.

So this is going to be one of the first new recipes I am going to try my hand at once I get back to my kitchen in France.

Garlic Bread

Inspired by Shefali, I have started to make garlic bread at home finally. Shri misses the frozen kind we used to buy in HongKong from Delifrance, which one could just toast/grill at home with delicious results.

Here is the way I have been making it recently, which he as well as the girls like quite a lot.

Now if I could only remember to pull it out of the oven in time, instead of letting it go from being just the right crispness to bordering-on-burnt each time …

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Garlic Bread

One fresh baguette, sliced in to 1inch (or a little more)  wide pieces

Butter (about 5-7 teaspoons for this much baguette, though more would be definitely nicer)

1 large pod of garlic, grated

salt (just a little, say 1/2 a tsp or even less, as the accent should be predominantly of the herbs)

3/4 tsp of dried oregano flakes (vary this as you like)

1/2 tsp each of dried basil and thyme flakes (vary this too as you like)

Mix the garlic and seasoning in to the butter and leave it for a little while so that all the flavors are well-absorbed.

Spread a little butter on each side of the baguette pieces, then grill these at 200 degrees C in the middle of the oven for a few minutes on each side till they are done.

Et voila ! That is so simple, I wonder why I never tried it before – so a big thanks to Shefali for the inspiration.

I must try not to make it too often though – this is a very indulgent experience, with all that butter  🙂

Pain de Sarrasin- aka Kuttu ke Paranthe!

Talk about it being a small world.

When I wrote recently about buckwheat crepes I had no idea that buckwheat flour , called sarrasin in French or ble noir, is the good old kuttu ka atta that is used all over India to make things like cheelas, paranthas and pakoras for people who are fasting for religious reasons and therefore not allowed to eat grains. But then I have never actually eaten anything made with this flour in India, nor indeed have I seen it, since in our home my Aryasamaji mother and dadi never observed any fasts for any festival or occasion. So, being only very vaguely aware of this flour,  I had never given any thought to it or to what it might be.

My good friend Priti wrote to tell me about it, after reading about the crepes here.

So when I made paranthas today, for the girls’ lunch, with the flour I originally bought to make the very French galette, it felt like I had taken the long way home, in a manner of speaking 🙂

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Kuttu ke Paranthe

I made the dough as I would for any other paranthas – with water but also with some crushed rock salt in this case –  then rolled out and cooked the paranthas in the same way too. I noticed that the flour had a tendency to get sticky so I added water very carefully, only a little bit at a time.

The girls, as they sat down to eat, sniffed at their plates and said, “hey but these smell like those crepes !”

I did tell them eventually why. And though they were evidently not too excited about this new culinary experiment, they did eat them, good girls that they are, without further comment, with some aloo ki subzi , a little pickle and yoghurt.

I have no idea how far from the original these are in taste or look, but they are good enough to eat that I would definitely make them again.

Galettes des Sarrasin-or Buckwheat Crepes

I made buckwheat crepes for dinner last night, finally, and though Noor said quite frankly that she did not like them too much( I am hoping that she might take to them gradually, especially as yesterday she was quite full from her gouter and not inclined to enjoy her dinner anyway), Shri really liked them, and Indira said “I completely love them !” . In fact, after she tasted the first one as it came off the crepe pan, she declared it exactly the same in taste as the ones we ate in Valberg recently, bless her heart.

They turned out quite nice, except that the ones I have eaten in restaurants here are sometimes crisper. So I need to figure that one out still.

Once again, a really simple, quick dish to make. We had these with soup and potato-feta cheese pancakes.

These savory crepes are called galettes in France to distinguish them from the sort of crepes that are eaten with sweet fillings. And sarassin, or ble noir, is  buckwheat flour. Buckwheat, as I wrote here is not actually any kind of cereal. It is a broadleaf plant that is a very good source of protein and iron. It is also used to make the variety of noodles called soba in Japan.

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Galettes des Sarrasin, or Buckwheat Crepes

250 gms of buckwheat flour, with 1 tsp of salt mixed in (this quantity should be enough for at least 6 people)

250 ml of milk ( either whole cream or half-fat)

500 ml of water

1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine the water and the milk. In a mixing bowl, stir in half the milk and water, and the egg, in to the flour till the batter is quite smooth. Add the rest of the milk and water, and mix till well combined.

Ideally, leave the batter to rest for 60 minutes.

Heat a medium-sized crepe pan till it is very hot. Put a little knob of butter on the pan, and quickly spread it over the surface of the pan with a kitchen towel. Now lift the pan off the heat, pour about 1/2 a small cup  of batter on to the pan, and quickly bend and turn the pan every which way till the batter covers the entire surface of the pan. Put the pan back on the hob, and cook till the top of the crepe dries and the edges start to go quite brown/crispy and start to lift a little off the pan’s surface. Flip the crepe over with a spatula, and cook the other side for 1/2 a minute or so, lifting every few seconds towards the end to check if it is done.

Repeat the process for the rest of the crepes. Any extra batter will keep in the fridge.

Spread a little beurre de bretagne (or any other salted butter) on the crepe, then fold it over twice to form a triangle. You could also eat these crepes/galettes with any savory filling such as ratatouille, diced/slices of smoked chicken or ham, sliced tomato and cheese (grated emmenthal or slices of mozarella) etc.

Eat them while they are still quite hot, if you can. They taste best that way, IMO.