Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ciabatta Bread & Sundried Tomato & basil,Mozarella Sandwich

Manasi and myself ,we enjoy  eating ciabatta with olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan . I buy this italian bread from Trader Joe's and I think there ciabatta is particularly fantsatic .I buy this bread very often and everytime I buy it I give it a serious thought of baking it in my oven some day.

 The last  tiny piece of Ciabatta from Trader Joe's was lying on the kitchen island and I still had plenty of fresh mozzarella & sun dried tomato and fresh basil  I had bought to make ciabatta sandwiches for Manasi. So I set out to make this very versatile Italian ,"slipper bread". The shape of the bread justifies its name.It quite resembles a slipper,with its characteristic long & flat shape. I looked up on the net and found one recipe which had been reviewed and had solid feedback :) I followed the instructions to the T as I knew this artisan bread needs to have the perfect crackly crust and a moist crumb. Trust me-The bread looked great,tasted so perfect that between Manasi & me we finished of more than half of it  while it was still warm ,with just olive oil. The crust and the crumb soaked the oil so well-it tasted exquisitely divine . I later used the remaining ciabatta to make Manasi a tomato mozzarella sandwich.

Here's the recipe for Ciabatta bread:

Ingredients For Sponge:
Active Dry Yeast: 1/8 tsp
water: 2 tbsp (105-115 f )
 room temprature water: 1/3 cup
Bread flour: 1/3 cup

For Bread:
Active Dry Yeast: 1/2 tsp
Warm Milk: 2 tbsp (102-115 f )
Room temprature water: 2/3
Olive Oil: 1 tbsp
Bread Flour: 2 cups
Salt: 1 1/2 tsp

Method to Make the Sponge:
Stir together warm water and yeast.
Let this stand till frothy/creamy
Transfer this mixture to another bowl and to this add 1/3 cup room tempartaure water and flour.
Stir this for 4 minutes.Make sure you stir this for 4 minutes,it will come together.
Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it for half a day minimum 12 hours or upto 1 day at cool room temprature.

Method for the Bread:
Mix the milk and yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes until creamy or frothy. Now in a food processor blend milk with sponge,water,oil & flour and run the processor till moistined. Run the food processor for a couple minutes more,add salt and run the food processor for couple minutes again.
Please Note: The original recipe called for beating this in an electric mixre with dough hook but I kneaded the dough in the food processor and it turned out just fine. You can also knead by hand. Just follow the time needed to beat/knead or process.

Scrape dough and cover with plastic wrap until doubled 1 1/2 hours.

Baking The Ciabatta Bread:
Dough will be sticky and full of bubbles. Cut two pieces of parchement paper approximately 10 inches by 6. Place on baking sheet and flour well.
Turn dough out on a well floured surface and cut in two halves.
Transfer each half to paper and shape into irregular oval shape about 7 inches.
Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves.
Dust tops with flour.
Cover with dampened kitchen towel and let it rise double in size for roughly 1 1/2 hours or  more untill doubled in size.
Heat the pizza stone in the lowest rack at 425 d farhaneight 45 minutes before you are ready to bake the bread.
Transfer 1 loaf along with the parchment paper on the pizza stone and bake for 20 minutes or till the top is  pale golden .
remove this and keep it on the rack to cool and repeat the same with another roll.

Recipe for Ciabatta Sandwich:

Fresh mozzarella : Cut thin rounds
Sun dried Tomato: chopped into small pieces.
basil: 5-7 leaves chopped.
Pesto: 2 tbsp
Ciabatta loaf:  2 pieces.

Take 2 pieces of ciabatta loaf and spread pesto on both sides. Arrange mozzarella rounds,and spread chopped sun dried tomato along with chopped basil leaves on one loaf. Press the othet half on top of this and heat this on  a griddle and press it tight with  a plate or keep something heavy on the plate.. Do this on both sides till the sandwich is flat and slightly crisp & brown on both sides. Please make this in a panini maker if you have one.

 Notes:  Please follow the  exact instructions for the sponge .
You can add a slice of cheddar cheese and a fresh tomato slice too along with other things.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tricolor Idli's to Celebrate India's Republic Day !

For Idli:
• One cup Sooji (Rava/Semolina)
• 2 tablespoon plain Yogurt
• 2 tablespoon Spinach paste 0r Pureed Green peas
• 2 tablespoon Carrot Puree
• 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• Salt (according to taste)

1. Divide one cup sooji/rava/semolina into three equal portions in three separate containers.
2. Mix yogurt with little water and beat for 2-3 minutes.
3. In the first container of sooji, add carrot puree, salt and 1/2 tsp baking powder. The batter should be to the consistency of neither too thin nor too thick.
4. In the second container, add yogurt, salt and 1/2 tsp baking powder. Mix well.
5. In the third container, add spinach paste, salt and 1/2 tsp baking powder. Mix well.
6. All the three batters should be of the same consistency.

7. Lightly oil Idli trays with spray cooking oill.
8. Prepare idli steamer by preheating water to a boil 
9. Pour half teaspoon from each batter side by side carefully into the idli mold.
10. As soon as you finish filling all the molds, put the idli stand into the steamer.
11. Place a tight lid on the steamer and steam idlis for 15 minutes on medium heat.
12. Remove idlis from the trays by scooping them out with a spoon. 
13. The beautiful stuffed idlis are ready.Enjoy them with green chutney or tomato ketchup or sambar:)

 I have to thank my sweet sister-in -law for thinking of me & my blog when she emailed me this recipe yesterday :) 

Note: I have used pureed green peas for this recipe.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shallow fried Surmai / King Fish

Everytime I visit China Town in NY city I cannot stop but marvel at the variety of vegetables,fruits,groceries and all the other exotic green stuff they display on the carts by the road side. I love the hustle & bustle and their chatty lingo which is almost impossible to decipher.  I mostly get lucky and find  fresh  fish(Indian variety) which is hard to find  even in the Indian grocery stores. This time my catch was Surmai a k a King fish. I was very excited and was already thinking of ways to prepare this fish while Mahir was driving us back home:) Dad used to love surmai and I have grown up eating various Sindhi preparations made with surmai , I had picked up a little less than 4 pounds and I knew I would fry some as a side dish and prepare the rest in gravy. So I came up with the simplest of all the recipes I could remember and I choose this because the shallow frying along with the marination of different masalas brings out the best in this fish. I will be posting the recipe for the same fish in gravy too ,so stay tuned for that:)

Here is what you will need for preparing it :
King Fish/Surmai : 1 pound- roughly 4 pieces
Lemon Juice: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp

ginger paste: 1 tbsp
garlic paste: 1 tbsp
mango powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Oil: 4 -6 tbsp for shallow frying

Spices to be roasted & ground to fine powder:
Coriander: 1 tsp
Cumin: 1 tsp
Dry kashmiri Chilli: 3 
Black pepper corn: 10-12

take the fish,wash it thoroughly and pull out any coagulated blood from the cavities( this can make the fish taste bitter)
Rub a tsp of salt along with a tbsp of lemon juice. Keep it aside for 30 minutes & then wash it and pat dry on a paper towel.

Take the roasted spices powder along with ginger , garlic ,mango powder & turmeric & some salt and rub it  all over the fish. Let the fish marinate in this for at least 1 hour preferably in the refrigerator.

Take a heavy bottomed skillet and use 3 tbsp of oil,if you are going to fry the fish in 2 batches. If you have a big pan and it can fit all the fish you will fry than you can add 6 tbsp of oil in one go. Let the oil heat well. take the fish and let it shallow fry on 1 side till done on medium to low flame,you can initially cover the skillet,to avoid the oil from spluttering all over. Now flip the fish and let it fry on the other side. Let the  fish fry for the last 5 minutes  without any cover to give it a crispy texture. 

Squeeze some lime juice before serving along with some sliced onions. You can serve this with some daal & roti's or enjoy the fish with green chutney & some wine that goes well with Indian spices.  

Note: Fry the fish for the first couple minutes on high flame covered ,then turn the flame to medium or slow.