Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Olive Oil Focaccia

Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is a baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  This is a "spin-off" from our on-going monthly Cookbook Countdown. Cookbook Countdown Specials : Bake is for baking desserts ; pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, breads. While the monthly Cookbook Countdown is to use from one selected cookbook each month, for CC Specials : Bake, you may use any baking cookbooks of your choice, either from one single cookbook or from numerous books. The link is open from July to end September. You may link your post here. Do join us, everyone is welcome!


To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #9, click here


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I've recently added to my cookbook collection, this fabulous book, The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, which I have been eyeing ever since it was published. This book is fast becoming one of my favourite books on breads. There are many recipes which I could not wait to try, but first I must try one of my favourites flatbreads, foccaccia, which looks absolutely fabulous from the photo in the book. 

The recipe makes quite a large flatbread, so I have made only half a recipe, using a 13x9-inch pan. There are some variations given for the topping, but I've decided to make it plain as it is, as I wanted to use it for a sandwich later on.



The dough is pretty easy to work with. I did not use all of the water indicated, remaining a few tablespoons behind. This is due to the high temperature and humidity in our weather. The final dough however refused to fill the entire pan, so I have left it to rest for 10 minutes at 3 intervals before the whole pan was filled with the dough.  



This is a fabulous facaccia! The bread is soft, moist and good to eat on its own. I've made it twice already. The first time I've made it, my nephew came for a visit, ate a few pieces and took home the rest, except for one piece, as I wanted to see if it stays just as soft on the next day. It still remains soft on the next day! On the next day, I baked this bread again. We had it as a sandwich bread (will share that in next post), and between the four of us, we finished this whole tray of this Olive Oil Focaccia. No leftovers! I will be trying out the different topping variation the next time. This is a keeper recipe.


Olive Oil Focaccia
(adapted from "The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook", by Jessaymn Waldon Rodriguez)
(makes one 13x18inch focaccia)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2-3/4 cup (630gm) water
700gm bread flour
4 tbsp (55gm) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for shaping and drizzling
1 tbsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
3/4 tsp sugar

  1. Stir together the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour and mix on low speed until the ingredients are well combined. Mix on medium speed until the dough looks like thick muffin batter, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.
  2. Add 2 tablespoon of the olive oil and the salt and sugar and mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Turn the speed up just a notch and mix until the dough is quite thick and starting to pull away slightly from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. It will be very sticky at this point. Increase the speed to high and let the dough mix until it comes together, makes slapping noises as it turns, the bowl is clean, and there's a slight sheen to the dough, about 6 minutes. Do a windowpane test to ensure that the gluten is fully developed.
  3. Coat the inside of a  large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough to it. Fold the dough over itself a couple of times, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or put the entire thing into a large plastic bag), and let it rise at room temperature until it is 1-1/2 times its original volume, about 2 hours.
  4. Generously oil a 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheet. Remove the dough form the container with oiled hands and press the dough into the pan with your fingers so it evenly covers the pan. If the dough resists, simply let it rest for 10 minutes and then stretch it a bit more. Repeat this process as many times as needed until the dough willingly stretches to cover the entire surface of the pan. Loosely cover the focaccia with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.
  6. Uncover the dough, use your fingers to firmly dimple the surface. Press down until you feel the hard surface below, being careful not to tear your dough. Use a pastry brush to paint the focaccia with 2 tablespoons olive oil and then sprinkle it evenly with 1 teaspoon salt. 
  7. Bake the focaccia until it's nicely browned and the underside is crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 300F/150C oven for a few minutes.


Cookbook Countdown


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hot Chilli Chicken

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 

To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #9, click here

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My selected cookbook for this month at Cookbook Countdown #9 is 500 Curries, by Mridula Baljekar.

I absolutely love spicy food, and when I've read that this dish, as described in the book, "not for the faint-hearted, this delicious fiery, hot curry is made with a spicy chilli masala paste", of course I must cook this!

Upon going through the ingredients list, I must say that it does not really sound that spicy after all. I have therefore increased the chilli powder and the dried chillies to double the amount.



This is not a fiery dish for me, it is only mildly spicy. But it is quite tasty. We had this with plain fluffy white rice for dinner along with some turmeric cabbage stir-fry, Indian-style. 


Hot Chilli Chicken
(adapted from "500 Curries", Mridula Baljekar)
Serves 4
2 tbsp tomato puree (paste)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 green chillies, roughly chopped
5 dried red chillies
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp curry paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
400gm can chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup water
8 chicken thighs, skinned
1 tsp garam masala
fresh green chillies, seeded and sliced, to garnish
chapatis and natural (plain) yoghurt, to serve

  1. Put the tomato puree, garlic, green and dried red chillies, salt, sugar, chilli powder, paprika and curry paste into a food processor or blender and process to a smooth paste. Alternatively, grind all the ingredients together to a paste using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy pan or wok and fry the cumin seeds for about 2 minutes. Add the onion and bay leaves to the pan and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add the spice paste to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes until it releases a fragrant aroma. Add the remaining ground spices and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and the measured water to the pan. Bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  5. Add the chicken and garam masala to the sauce. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the chicken is tender. Serve with chapatis and natural yoghurt, garnished with sliced green chillies.



I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #9 hosted by 




Monday, September 26, 2016

Aromatic Vegetable Curry

Cookbook Countdown is a monthly cooking/baking event, which I'm co-hosting with Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.  Everyone is welcome to join us. How does it work? To summarize, you may select a cookbook from your own cookbook collection, to cook or bake from each month. That selected book shall be your cookbook of the month. You may cook any recipes and as many recipes as you want from your selected book of the month. This is a fabulous way of using your cookbooks at least once! For more information on how to join Cookbook Countdown, please click here. 

To link to Cookbook Countdown Specials : BAKE, click here
To link to Cookbook Countdown #9, click here

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My selected cookbook for this month at Cookbook Countdown #9 is 500 Curries, by Mridula Baljekar.

I've made Aromatic Vegetable Curry with Mushrooms and Beans. I have made a few changes to the recipe. This is pretty much a basic vegetable curry, and you can use whatever veggies you have in your fridge. I did not have any mushrooms, but I have a quarter of a cabbage left, so I've used that instead. Instead of using butter to saute the spices, I've replaced with canola oil. And have substitute the heavy cream with coconut milk.

Also the recipe indicated that after the veggies are cooked, they are removed to a plate, then the curry liquid is heated until it has reduced a little. At this point, season with salt and pepper, stir in the yoghurt, cream and garam masala. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and serve immediately with rice. I have, however, did it differently. I did not remove the veggies from the curry gravy, but added the yoghurt, coconut milk and garam masala along with the salt and pepper during the last ten minutes or so of cooking the curry. And I have increased the amount of spices, using 1-1/2 times more than indicated in the recipe.



This is a very mild curry (even though with the increased amount of spices). And according to the author "here the aim is to produce a subtle curry rather than an assault on the senses".  Seeing how mild this curry is, it would be great as a side dish along with some spicy dry meat curry served with rice.


Aromatic Vegetable Curry 
(adapted from "500 Curries", Mridula Baljekar)
Serves 4
50gm (1/4 cup) butter (I use canola oil)
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 in piece fresh root ginger, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
6 cardamom pods
2 in piece of cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
1 small aubergine (eggplant), chopped
115gm (1-1/2 cups) mushrooms, thickly sliced (I use cabbages, shred to chunky pieces)
3/4 cup water
115gm green beans, cut into 1 in lengths
4 tbsp natural plain yoghurt
2/3 cup double (heavy) cream (I use coconut milk)
1 tsp garam masala
salt and ground black pepper
fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish
plain boiled rice, to serve

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy pan. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the cumin, coriander, cardamom pods, cinnamom stick, turmeric and finely chopped chilli. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the potato cubes, aubergine and mushrooms and the water. Cover the pan, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the beans to the pan and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables to a warmed serving, dish and keep hot.
  4. Allow the cooking liquid to bubble up until it has reduced a little. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the yoghurt, double cream and garam masala. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve the curry immediately with plain boiled rice.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #9 hosted by 


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