Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stuffed Garlic Bread


A few years back, I successfully recreated Domino's garlic bread at home. Since then, several people have written to me saying they tried baking the bread and loved it. So when Domino's launched a new version that has become my favourite, I felt it's about time to recreate that one too.

The stuffed garlic bread at Domino's comes filled with cheese, corn and jalapenos (and that's why I made these pickled jalapenos). But the basic bread recipes remains the same. So first off, heat 1/2 cup water until it's warm but not hot. You can do it on the stovetop or microwave it for 15-20 seconds. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast and let proof for 5 minutes. By this time, the yeast will be bubbling. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and a cup of plain flour. Stir everything together until the flour is all blended in, then cover and let rise until doubled.

Once the dough has doubled in volume, add another 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Knead for around 5 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Resist the temptation to add more flour as you knead it, you want the dough to be quite wet. Move the dough to a new container and let it rise again until doubled.

After about 40 minutes, preheat your oven to as high as it goes. Lightly flour your counter and roll out the dough into a circle as thin as you can. Grate cheddar cheese (or what commonly sells as pizza cheese) and spread about 1/2 cup evenly over one half of the rolled dough, leaving at least 1/2 inch border cheese-free. Sprinkle 1/4 cup boiled corn kernels over the cheese and add 5-6 jalapeno rings. Fold the other half over the cheese stuffing and press the ends to create a closed pocket.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the paper with olive oil. Transfer the garlic bread to this parchment lined baking sheet. Brush olive oil on top and cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Bake until browned on top, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with dried oregano just as it comes out of the oven. Wait a few minutes before eating as the cheese filling will be very hot.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Quick Pickled Jalapeños


Even though I am not a big fan of chilli, I like the mildly spicy, tangy flavour of pickled jalapeños. But have you ever tried buying a jar of those. The last couple of jars I bought, the jalapeños were several months old and kinda mushy. Plus every commercial pickle out there has some added sugar and I was looking for something with just salt and vinegar so I decided to make my own.

Most recipes I found on the net had sugar, but I finally settled on this quick and easy recipe by Valerie. As this happens to be my first pickling experiment, I started with only 3 jalapenos. The first step is to cut these chillis. Wash and wipe the jalapenos. Then chop the stem off and slice into thin rings. Make sure to wash the knife and your hands right after. And whatever you do, don't touch your face or eyes while you are chopping.

Put the jalapenos aside and mix up your pickling liquid. Mix 1/2 cup water with 1/4 cup vinegar. I used normal white vinegar but you can use rice vinegar or white wine vinegar as Valerie suggests. To this, add 1/2 tbsp. salt, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds and a peeled clove of garlic. Stir until the salt dissolves. Pack the jalapenos into a glass jar (and wash your hands again! with soap!). Pour over the liquid to cover the jalapeno rings and pop into the fridge.

I made this 3-4 days back. The jalapenos were ready to eat after 24 hours but the flavours are much better after a couple of days. These aren't your traditional canned goods so I am not sure how long they will last in the fridge. My batch is small enough that I expect them to be gone in a couple of weeks.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Espresso



Fifteen years back, when the first chain of coffee shops opened in India, customers were understandably puzzled by the espresso that showed up on the menus. Until then, expresso (notice the different spelling) referred to a small, drum like machine that spewed out foamy, milky Nescafe coffees. Expresso stalls were de rigueur at weddings and in winters in Northern India, you could pick a styrofoam cup of steaming coffee in neighbourhood markets.

Espresso on the other hand is everything that's good with Italian coffee. By forcing a small amount of water with a lot of pressure through ground coffee beans, you get deep, dark coffee flavours crowned with a lighter foam called crema. Making good espresso requires a combination of sophisticated equipment and barista skills, which means that it remains a drink more suited for cafes than home brewing.

I am firmly in the sweet, milky coffee camp so while I don't relish espresso per se, I am a big fan of cappuccinos and lattes that are based on a good espresso. Now home espresso machines abound but they are never going to match the café quality. Instead, the way to get good espresso at home is something much simpler - a stovetop moka pot. The process is no harder than making a filter coffee. The moka pot comes in three parts. You fill the bottom container with water, fix the little perforated disc and fill it with coffee and finally, fix the top container and put the pot back together. This goes on the stove on a medium flame and five minutes later, the top container is filled with coffee.

My moka pot was crafted by Bialetti and it made the trek all the way from Italy to US and then through a friend visiting India, to all the way home. Before I could get that coffee though, and before you make your first cup of espresso with a moka pot, there is seasoning to do. To take the edge off fresh metal that will make the espresso bitter, you make 4-5 fake cups of coffee. I mean, they are real cups of coffee, except you don't drink them. Make, throw, rinse, repeat for the first four times and the fifth cup of espresso is all yours. You don't get much of a crema but the espresso compares with the best out there.