Friday, March 29, 2019

Revisiting an Old Bread Recipe

Sometimes, I go back and take a look at an old recipe, seeing it with more current eyes. In this case, a Multi-Grain and Seed Bread recipe I created in 2013, that, outside of the grains and seeds, was all white flour. Since these past years I have been grinding my own grains for bread and other recipes, I have looked at substituting whole grains here and there, whenever possible.

So it came about that I decided yesterday to update this old recipe, one that I have wanted to post here in my blog for some time. For one thing, I have been trying to get very comfortable with weighing my ingredients instead of only measuring by volume. It gives consistently better results, and is easier to have others get the same results. 
Multi Grain and Seed Bread
Multi Grain and Seed Bread

I was already planning to make another bread recipe (which I did today) from another of Peter Rheinart's books, "Whole Grain Breads." Most of the recipes in this book (if not all) require at least 2 days to make, first making a pre-ferment such as a Biga, or refreshing my old starter and getting that going to be ready a day ahead. Other things, such as soakers (soaking the grain, or crushed grain, flour, seeds, etc) also require an overnight time period. The actual bread is made the following day. The pre-ferment and pre-soak are what unlock the flavors inside the grain, giving the final bread a tremendous boost in flavor. I started the Biga and Soaker yesterday and made that whole grain bread today, and it's still cooling so I have yet to taste it.

Yesterday though, while I already had the whole wheat freshly ground (and sifted to remove some of the coarser bran flakes for Rheinart's recipe), I opted to use only half the white bread flour called for in my old multi-grain recipe, substituting the freshly milled whole grain flour for the rest. The bread came out amazingly good. Just as soft and delicious as the all white flour version of old. I also measured everything out in grams, to have those measurements at hand. Here is my result:

Multi Grain and Seed Bread

Makes 2 or 3 loaves 
Multi Grain and Seed Bread
Multi Grain and Seed Bread

280 grams sifted whole wheat flour (about 2 cups)
325 grams bread flour (about 2¼ cups)
120 grams Bob's Red Mill 7-grain hot cereal, uncooked (¾ cup)
1 packet instant yeast, 7 grams
120 ml olive oil (½ cup)
7 grams salt (1½ teaspoons)
595 ml warm water (2½ cups)
30 ml honey (2 tablespoons)
68 grams raw sunflower seeds (½ cup)
55 grams unhulled "brown" sesame seeds (6 tablespoons)
4 grams gluten (2 teaspoons)

Heat the water to just warm and add in the multi-grain cereal, the oil and the honey and set aside to soak while gathering the dry ingredients.

If using a heavy duty stand mixer, place all dry ingredients into the bowl of the mixer, attach the dough hook, pour in the liquid mixture and start on very low speed to combine ingredients, then increase speed to 2 or whichever speed will knead the dough properly for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove dough hook and allow to rise until about doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.

If mixing by hand, place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and add in the liquid mixture, stirring at first to bring together. Turn out onto a clean, greased surface and knead for 12 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. Set into a large greased bowl to rise as above.

Once risen, turn the dough out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two or three equal parts. 

For two loaves: Prepare either a long French bread pan with room for two loaves or a large baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray and sprinkling with cornmeal, or wheat or oat bran. Form the dough halves into long, thin loaves and set onto prepared pan. If using a baking sheet, place the loaves lengthwise, and well separated. Allow to rise again for about 45 minutes in a warm place, until nearly doubled in bulk. Heat oven to 375 degrees (350 on Convection). If desired, using a very sharp knife or a baker's lame, make diagonal slashes on top of the loaves. Bake the loaves for about 25 - 30 minutes, or until golden and have reached an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees F.

For three loaves: Prepare either a baking sheet to accommodate three very narrow, thin baguette loaves, or three loaf pans by greasing and sprinkling with wheat bran or cornmeal. Set the narrow baguette shapes at least 3-inches apart on a baking sheet. Or, make loaf shapes and set into the pans. Let rise until just about doubled in size. Slash the loaves if desired, using a bakers' lame or a very sharp knife, then set into the preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking the internal temperature for doneness. 

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Not Just Any Chicken and Rice

I keep posting Indian recipes, just because I love the flavors so very much. I do make other things in between, but often, if I have spent an inordinate amount of time researching a recipe, then setting about making it, getting all the "moving parts" moving as they should, executing the recipe, by the time I sit down to eat it, and gush over what great flavors . . .well, I just don't have it in me to do that all over again in a day or so. And, I just fall back on something regular that is tried and true.

I can't count the amount of times I have made one of my long-running best recipes, One-Skillet Hamburger Meal, just because it's easy and delicious. Or some pork chops and Red Cabbage with Apples & Bacon. I have a lot of favorites.

So, if it appears that all I do is make Indian meals, that would be an incorrect assumption. 
Dinner of Chicken Korma, Barley Khichdi and Chutneys
Dinner of Chicken Korma, Barley Khichdi and Chutneys

I do, however, have a fascination for Indian flavors, and I do spend a lot of time researching them. India is a pretty big place. It is about a third of the size of the United States, yet has more people! Netflix has a show called "Raja, Rasoi Aur Anya Kahaniyaan" that while subtitled (a problem for some), is a fascinating journey through India and how and why the foods are distinct in some regions, how they came to be there, the influences of differing ruling systems, etc. India has a lot of different food regions. Similarly to the U.S. with southern cooking, northeastern cooking, midwest styles and so on. Here in the U.S., we have mainly been introduced to northern Indian styles of cuisines in the restaurants and buffets I have been to. This style is delicious, no doubt about it, but recently I have been delving into other areas and searching for what other styles of cooking exist there, and what other foods or food combinations exist. 

Yesterday however, I fell back on north Indian style foods, and made a Chicken Korma. Korma, whether made with lamb or chicken, is made with a "gravy" thickened with ground nuts, usually blanched, peeled almonds, but sometimes with cashews. I have a Lamb Korma recipe that is truly exceptional, and this chicken recipe is not too far different - only just a little bit. Whole, cut up chicken could be used, though the cooking time would need to be far longer. I chose skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but skinless, boneless chicken thighs would work as well. And, I used cashews for this dish. It tasted so wonderful that my husband and I just kept commenting over it. Here is my recipe:

Chicken Korma
Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma

Serves 4 to 6 

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken, cut in cubes
¾ cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rosewater
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ to ½ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 to 3 tablespoons oil or ghee, plus a bit more for cooking chicken
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 - 3 green chilies, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
¾ cup raw cashews
¾ cup water or chicken stock
3 to 4 teaspoons Garam Masala 
¼ cup heavy cream, optional

At least 2 hours before beginning the meal, combine in a large bowl the yogurt, 2 tablespoons water, rosewater, salt, white pepper, saffron and turmeric. Stir to mix well, then add the cubed chicken and stir to coat all the chicken pieces. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 2 or more hours.

Heat a skillet and add in the ghee or oil of choice. Add the onions and saute them over medium low heat until lightly golden, then add in the garlic, ginger and green chilies. Continue to cook, stirring, until the onions are nicely golden but not browned. Pour the contents of the skillet into a blender container and add in the cashews, water or stock and Garam Masala. Blend the mixture to a fine puree. This sauce can be made ahead, even a day ahead, then refrigerated until needed.

Heat a large skillet and add in more oil or ghee and pour in the blender contents, then the chicken with all its marinade. Stir well and bring the mixture to just boiling. Lower heat to just a simmer, cover the pan and cook, slowly for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through. If desired, add the heavy cream and stir in. Goes well with Chapatis, Parathas, Naan or rice.


moong dal
moong dal
My normal accompaniment to a dish with this much sauce is rice, whether brown rice or other. This time, I wondered what I could make different from just rice, and got thinking of barley. I hadn't come across barley in any Indian recipe I had seen, to date, yet when I looked it up, it appears barley (called "jau" or "jao") has been in or around India since prehistoric times, and was once a main staple. It has mostly been replaced with rice and millet, but is still around, most often as soup or cooked into a sort of khichdi or grain and lentil dish. I opted to use hulled barley. Most often the kind of barley found in the supermarket is "pearled" barley, and most commonly the "quick cooking" kind. "Pearled" means that the outer, inedible grain case, the inner hull and the bran have all been polished off or "pearled," so there is little fiber left to the grain. I look for ways to incorporate more fiber in our diets, so I found "hulled" barley, which has not had the bran or inner hull removed, but only the outer inedible hull or shell. It takes a little longer to cook, but since I always looked for the long-cooking pearled barley anyway, the time to cook is not much different. 

So, in creating a grain and lentil dish, I used hulled barley, moong dal (mung beans that have been peeled and split) and added in some cabbage. I look for ways to get cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables into my husband's diet without him really being able to pick it out (in the case of cauliflower, for example, which I shred) or truly taste it. In this instance, I got rave reviews from him on both the Korma dish and this Barley Khichdi. High praise, indeed!

Barley Khichdi
Barley Khichdi

Barley Khichdi

Barley Khichdi
Barley Khichdi
Serves 3 to 4

½ cup hulled barley
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ cup moong dal
1 tablespoon oil or ghee
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, whole
½ teaspoon asafetida
1 - 2 shallots, minced
1 - 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1½ cups finely shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch Kashmiri red chili powder, or more if you like heat

Place the barley into a large saucepan with 2 cups water and bring to boil. Add the turmeric and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Rinse the moong dal in water repeatedly until the water drains off mostly clear. Drain well and add to the barley, with a little more water only if needed. Cook for about 10 more minutes, until both the barley and dal are tender, not mushy. If there is still water in the pan, either drain it, or if it is very little, simply turn off the heat and leave the pan on the burner to dry out.

In a skillet, heat the oil or ghee and once hot, add the cumin seeds and asafetida and let them sizzle for a bit. Add in the shallot and saute until the shallots are well softened. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two, until fragrant, then add in the cabbage, salt, pepper and chili powder. Saute, stirring until the cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes, then add the contents of the skillet to the saucepan of barley mixture and stir well. Garnish with cilantro or curry leaves, if desired. 

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Odds and Ends

It has been a while since I wrote. The last post was my March Newsletter on March 1st, and here we are more than three weeks into March, with April fast on its way.

It has been a busy time for me, obviously, as I haven't had time to get to this blog. I opted to create an Indian Cookbook for my kids, who enjoy Indian cooking. I love it so much that sometimes it seems my blog has more Indian recipes than American or any other ethnicity. I love Indian flavors so much, so I keep on hunting down new recipes. Expect to see lots more in the next months.

One of my recent recipes, Pav Bhaji, has quickly become one of my favorites, and mainly as it is so very simple to make, in comparison to many of the Indian foods I have made. Pav Bhaji is a street food, found in many places, but originating, so they believe, in Mumbai. It is either smashed or pureed vegetables with some amazing spices that make it just exceptional. This mixture is served on or with yeast buns, made without egg. At the time I tried this recipe out, I opted to just buy some buns at the grocery, but since then I have made my own recipe for "Ladi Pav," the buns used for this dish. 

Ladi Pav or Eggless Yeast Buns

Ladi Pav or Eggless Yeast Buns
Ladi Pav or Eggless Yeast Buns

Makes 12 buns

3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons oil or melted ghee
1¼ cups water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add in the oil and 1 cup of the water. Stir well, and when it becomes too difficult to stir, use hands to bring the dough together. If the dough will not come together, add some of the remaining water. Turn dough out onto a clean surface sprayed liberally with cooking spray. The dough should come together to a tacky dough, but not sticky. Adjust flour or water as needed. Knead the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes, then spray the top of the dough with more cooking spray and up-end the mixing bowl over top of the dough. Let rise for about an hour.

At the end of rising, remove the bowl and divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces and roll them to smooth balls, keeping the smoothest side upmost.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, or spray the sheet with cooking spray. Set the dough balls on the sheet about 1-inch apart. It is okay if they grow and touch.

Let rise for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then bake the buns for about 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. 


Spring is here, though it's still a bit hard to tell up north where I live. The snow has melted down about a foot, but we still have so much snow out there it will be some time before it is gone. And who is to say whether Mother Nature has had her last say about winter? But still, Spring weather will arrive eventually, things will begin growing and we will have new vegetables to eat. One recipe that comes together in no time (particularly if you use frozen baby peas), is Peas, Sauteed with Shallot and Prosciutto.

Peas Sauteed with Shallot and Prosciutto 

Peas Sauteed with Shallot & Prosciutto
Peas Sauteed with Shallot & Prosciutto

Serves 3 - 4

2 - 3 shallots, peeled and cut into long wedges
2 - 3 ounces prosciutto, cut into half inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups frozen peas
pinch salt
small pat butter. optional

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Throw in the shallots and prosciutto and quickly toss them until the shallots are mostly cooked and the prosciutto is crisped. Add in the peas and toss for 1 to 2 minutes until they are heated through. Add in the small pat of butter and pinch of salt and serve.


Asparagus can be  found in grocery stores year 'round these days, but still, it is a vegetable that screams "Spring." Whenever you make asparagus, remember to snap off the bottom, tough portion of the stem. Hold the spear at the end, and somewhere near middle of the spear and bend until the stem snaps where it wants. This is generally the correct spot, and forcing the stem to break farther down or worse, cutting the ends, can result in some pieces that are too tough to chew.  It really takes no time to do this, and is very important.

As for making asparagus, it is very easy. Since I buy it in the store all year, I grill it in warmer weather and saute or steam it on the stove in cold weather. My favorite is grilled though, and I can't wait for it to get warm enough to get the grill out again.

Simply Grilled Asparagus
Simply Grilled Asparagus

Simply Grilled Asparagus

Serves 2 to 4

1 bunch asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh clove garlic
¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Snap off the ends of the asparagus, then place the spears, whole, in a gallon zip-top bag. Add the remaining ingredients to the bag, seal and move the asparagus around inside the bag to make sure all the spears are coated. Heat the grill (which is usually while I am planning to grill some meat anyway) and preferable use a grill pan for the asparagus, so you don't lose them to the coals.

Set the asparagus on the grill pan and check often while the spears are grilling. Lift a spear by the bottom end with tongs; if it will bend at all, it is done. Waiting too long to take them off will result in flabby and overcooked asparagus. Check them one by one, removing them to a plate once they will bend at all. This can take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus spear.

Serve at once, or squeeze on a little lime or lemon juice just before serving.

My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.