I bought my first oven and it was lying in the box for close to a month! While travel kept me busy, I was wondering where to place it for the perfect hot spot. The thought of handling a new gadget and not having worked with it before made me a little nervous and excited at the same time.
I’ve always been fascinated with bread baking but never had an oven to bake one. A lot of bloggers used to write about how bread baking can be soothing and indulging. I always wondered why and wanted to experience it myself. I got an opportunity to go for the bread baking class at the APB Cookstudio, one of a kind cook studio in India started by Rushina of A perfect Bite and her husband Shekar. The studio has individual work stations with high end kitchen equipment, a dream kitchen for anyone who loves to cook. My friend Saee from My Jhola was taking an intensive class on bread baking at the studio. Also note with no clue about baking and my oven still lying in the box, I registered for the bread baking class. With a hands on experience and we made different types of breads like white loaf, whole wheat dinner rolls,chocolate rolls etc. After the class, I gained a little confidence at dealing with ‘yeast’.
The next day, my husband helped me instal the oven and I was set to start my journey in “baking”. I couldn’t resist and had to kick start my new mission immediately. I chose to bake whole wheat bread over the all purpose or maida because I like the nutty taste of the wheat breads. However, no first timer will attempt at whole wheat bread; the reason being – whole wheat breads have a reputation for difficulty because it contains gluten, which doesn’t allow it to rise like the white flour or maida breads.
I enjoyed the process of kneading and waiting for the dough to rise. I cannot account how nervous I must have been going like a million times to check if my bread is browning well. I loved the aroma lingering in my house and for some reason I felt satisfied. Bread baking can lead to short lived simple pleasures of life. Do I sound addicted? I’ve only baked twice and on a mission in exploring more variations.
**The recipe is adapted from Saee’s recipe for whole wheat bread rolls, from the APB class with slight modifications. I used fresh wheat flour instead of packaged ones. If you’re using packaged flour, Saee suggests to add some wheat bran to give your bread a nutty texture. I used fresh/wet yeast, bought from the local bakery for 10 rupees, which will last you for 3-4 bread making sessions. You can freeze rest of the yeast for six months. I used raw sugar the first time and jaggery the second time – I found the one with jaggery better, but its a personal choice.
350gms whole wheat flour (use the chakki atta and not processed ones for better results)
2tbs wheat bran (**see note above)
1tbs (15gms) dry active yeast or fresh yeast (**see note above)
1 glass luke warm water
2tsp (10gms) sugar or jaggery (**see note above)
2tsp ghee/oil/butter ( I used ghee) & some for greasing
2tsp rock salt
for topping – sunflower seeds/sesame seeds/ poppy seeds etc
- In a glass of lukewarm water, dissolve sugar/jaggery and yeast.Allow it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the measured flour, yeast mixture and form a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
- Cream the fat and salt separately and work into the dough. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until elastic.
- Form into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes or double in size.
- Knock back the dough (punch it in the middle and let all the air escape) and knead again for 3-4 minutes,
- Shape the dough in desired shape and place the dough on the greased tray.
- Leave it in a warm spot for 20 minutes or double in size.
- Preheat the oven and sprinkle some water on top and top with the desired toppings.
- Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until the surface is browned.
- The bread sounds hollow when done. Brush with some olive oil and cool on a wire rack.
Store in an air tight container or you could freeze it wrapped in a foil for 3 months.
APB Cookstudio conducts cooking classes regularly. Sharing some of the bread baking class pictures.
“A new day and a new theme”
Of late I’ve been feeling a little negative and my last post said it all. This month is almost closing on me and here I am again back logged with things to do, which kept me away from posting about i2cook’s second cooking class, which happened early this month.
I recently received an email from a customer who had ordered few bottles of shahi tukra during rakhi and appreciating the sweet so much that all the negativity that I’ve been feeling began to fade. She attempted twice to tell me how much she liked it – once when I was traveling and couldn’t return her call back and the second time by writing an email to me. She also checked with me about the class and that’s when I realized that my post for the second one is long overdue.
i2cook cooking class is slowly catching up in its own special way and I’m glad that its appreciated. I always enjoy interacting with people and this time we had two men in our class ;). I like it when men come forth and show their interest in cooking. We cooked, we ate and laughed together. It was an afternoon well spent gaining and imparting knowledge and tasting various ingredients like nutritional yeast, black rice pasta, spaghetti pasta, rock salt etc. Italian being the theme of the class the recipe card and the setting was all themed by Groovy Two Shoes.
Ricotta Cheese Spread
Ricotta is Italian for “twice cooked” or “to cook again” and is traditionally made with the whey byproduct of making another cheese, such as mozzarella or a hard cheese. The whey is heated, with or without additional vinegar, and the new ricotta is strained and seasoned.
Since we aren’t cheese makers and don’t have any whey with us, we will make ricotta in a more contemporary way and creamy like a cream cheese. The fresh ricotta goes well on a baguette or toast drizzled with some olive oil or balsamic.
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
Juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons
1/2tsp sea salt
(Makes 1 cup)
Pour milk, cream and salt in a non-reactive pot. Heat the milk lightly until you see the cream formation. Turn off the stove and pour in the lemon juice. Allow it to stand for five minutes.
Line a colander with a few layers of cheese cloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey. Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and can be refrigerated upto 3 days.
An Italian will always say that “his” sauce is the best. How do you know which recipe to follow? After a lot of research we realized that you don’t need to add too many things into your sauce to make it taste good. Some onions, not finely chopped dropped into a pot full of tomatoes to infuse can do wonders to your pasta sauce.
500gms plum tomatoes
1 halved medium sized onion
2tbs olive oil
1/2tbs lemon juice
salt to taste
(Makes approx. 250gms of pasta sauce)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. Discard the skins.
Cut each of your tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with your fingertips into a small strainer set over a bowl. Ditch the seeds, reserve the juices. Chop the tomatoes roughly.
Put the tomatoes, onion and olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt and sugar to taste. Turn off the stove and add lemon juice. Serve immediately on your favourite pasta with some fresh basil or precede further to preserve the sauce.
Preserving pasta sauce
You can either freeze the pasta sauce for 6 months or can preserve through canning at room temperature.
You can make pasta sauce in bulk and store in your kitchen cabinet for months by canning. Canning is a process where the sealed sauce bottles are heated in a hot water bath to build pressure and seal the bottle. This helps to negate the bacteria and avoid botulism (can lead to paralysis)
Canning at home doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done with the stuff available at home –
deep saucepan or stock pot
Wipe the rim of the jar with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to remove any sauce on there. Anything left on the rim could spoil your sauce. Place the lid on top, and screw the rings in place.
Fill the pot with water and place the towel at the bottom. Submerge the warm jars in the entirely with water 2 to 3 inch above the lids and bring it to boil. Maintain the temperature of the stove at medium high and process for 45 minutes. Check periodically to see that the water level is still above the tops of the jars and add water if necessary.
Meanwhile tie rubber bands to the tongs to avoid any slippage. After 45 minutes, slowly remove the jars with the help of the tongs and place them somewhere no one will bump or touch them. Let them sit to cool, overnight is good. You may hear hissing when you take them out of the water – that’s totally fine. The jars’ seals will still be up at this point, they will suck in as the jars cool.
Your homemade pasta jar is ready to store for 12 months without refrigeration.
Please check your jars. Are the seals down? Any leaks? If not, you’re all clear. If you still hear hissing, have jars with the lids still up, or see any leaks, stick them in the refrigerator and use them within a couple of days. Do not try to can them again.
Fig & Olive Tapenade
Traditionally, tapenade is a pounded paste made of olives and capers, slick with olive oil. It is not only economical to make your own tapenade but it is so darn easy. We found some gorgeous figs from Turkey and couldn’t help but mix it in our tapenade.
1/2cup dried figs
1 cup black olives
1 small garlic clove
1/2tbs lemon juice
1tsp dried or finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Soak the figs in water for an hour or so. Chop and keep aside.
Blend in all the ingredients in a processor and season with salt and pepper. If you have the patience you could make the tapenade in mortar and pestle…
The class was wrapped up with sauce and spreads prepared by us for lunch and finished with some Italian custard served with caramelized pears made by me. To know when my next class is scheduled – 1. LIKE our FB page for constant updates or 2. email me at email@example.com, so that I can send you an email once the event is up! More pictures of the class on our FB page.
You might want to read my previous post on i2cook cooking class.
I used to be fascinated by chefs or cooks showcasing their culinary skills on television, as a kid. I would sometimes play alone narrating what I had seen. I would talk to myself and recall the ingredients used!
I grew up and things changed. Buried under college assignments and work, I slowly forgot how much I love cooking. Things eventually changed for good and I’m so glad that it directed me back to my passion – cooking!
My first cooking class was an experience to cook together. I’ve always enjoyed cooking alone and even remember asking my mom to leave the kitchen while I cook in her kitchen. She would wait patiently for me to churn out something yummy. Habitually, she leaves me alone to cook all by myself till date, waiting anxiously with a glass of her favourite port wine.
Cooking together is a fun activity and I believe that we all learn something at the end – whether from an instructor or from the guests. Conversations become the key ingredient to any class. We end up talking about food and food only. How I love it! Talking about simple ingredient like rock salt and iodized salt can make the conversations informative and also gives a sense of discovery.
i2cook cooking class aims to bring people and conversations together while inspiring you to cook. It aims at making enhancers or condiments and enjoy the true flavours of ingredients. The first i2cook class took place in July, we made three dips to showcase that dips can be made attractive to kick-start your party. I’m sharing all the recipes of the class for those who have missed and for those who would like to make.
Mexican Seven Layered Dip
(Serves 2, the measurements are approx. You can add more of anything if you like to indulge in guilt-free happiness)
100gms red beans/rajma, boiled & mashed
1tbs chopped canned jalapenos
1/2tsp cumin powder
2-4tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese
100-150gms sour cream (homemade or store bought)
2-4tbs grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2tbs black olives, pitted
60 – 75gms Pico De Gallo
Recipe for Pico De Gallo – ½ red onion finely diced, ½ red tomato finely diced, 1tbs chopped cilantro, 1tsp fresh lime juice, 1/2tbs chopped canned or fresh jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all the ingredients and it is ready to serve.
Recipe for Guacamole – half ripe avocado, ½ red onion finely diced, ½ red tomato finely diced, 1tbs chopped cilantro, 1tsp fresh lime juice, 1/2tbs chopped canned or fresh jalapenos, salt and pepper to taste.
Mash the avocado coarsely. Mix all the ingredients and it is ready to serve.
Recipe for Sour cream – 100gms cream, 25gms buttermilk or sour cream.
Mix all the ingredients in a jar. Allow it to stand at room temperature for 24 hours, covered. Refrigerate for further thickening. Sour cream can be refrigerated upto a week.
- Mix the beans, cumin powder, jalapenos and salt in a bowl. Lay it at the bottom of the serving dish.
- Sprinkle cheddar cheese.
- Spread sour cream evenly in a single layer and take care not to disturb the cheese underneath.
- Spread the layer of guacamole over the sour cream.
- Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese.
- Place a layer of pico de gallo.
- Lastly, sprinkle some black olives and jalapenos.
Serve cold or at room temperature with nachos.
Corn & Bacon Dip or Corn & Sour Cream Dip
(Serves 2, the measurements are approx. You can add more of anything if you like to indulge in guilt-free happiness)
100gms sour cream
1-2tbs grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-2tbs grated Monterey Jack cheese
1tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
For garnish cooked sweet corn kernels, chopped green chillies and/or crispy bacon bits
Mix all the ingredients apart from garnish and keep it refrigerated for an hour. Fill the tarts with dip and garnish.
You could also serve with crackers or veggies.
Date & Tamarind Chutney (Indian dip
(Serves 2, You will get approx.300gms of finished chutney)
100gms dates, seedless and washed
1/2tsp ginger powder
60gms tamarind paste
1/2tsp chilli powder
1/2tsp cumin powder
- Puree the dates in a grinder. Do not fine grind it. It is nice to taste bits of dates in your chutney.
- Mix date puree, tamarind, jaggery, water and chilli powder in a pan and cook on medium heat.
- Allow it to cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Add cumin powder and turn off the stove.
- Allow the chutney to cool. Keep refrigerated for a month or two.
Serve hot, cold or at room temperature with samosas, chats and many more Indian delicacies.
The classes will be held regularly in Bandra, Mumbai. Follow i2cook’s FB page for latest updates.