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Garlic Rolls in a Convection Oven

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garlicbreadrolls.jpg

I posted this picture on instagram, and got so many comments about not being able to trust a convection oven to make bread/ cake and cookies.

 First things first, there are a lot of misconceptions about using a convection oven in India. Most low end models of convection ovens usually come in combination with a microwave and hence a lot of people feel they own a microwave oven and cannot bake in it. Higher end convection ovens are mostly stand alone ones. Check your oven user manual to find out how your’s works. These are observations I have made based on interactions with students and participants from my baking classes and I am hoping to debunk a few myths.

  • A convection oven is an oven which heats up using electric coil or a heating element, similar to an OTG. The difference is that in addition, convection ovens have a fan built in, which distributes the heat evenly. This means that heating is far more efficient in a convection oven when compared to an OTG. However in India, there is a feeling among users, that only OTGs (oven toaster griller) have the ability to bake cakes and cookies or bake them better than convection ovens. This is not true.
  • To use a convection oven, firstly read the manual thoroughly. Each oven functions differently and hearsay about what a friend / neighbour uses is mostly not helpful. If anything it only serves to confuse, unless validated with data.
  • To use your oven, you need to identify three functions and their controls in your oven. Thermostat – to set the temperature, Timer – to choose the time for baking, Preheat function – to preheat your oven, sometimes this is the power button or the start button if your oven does not have a separate preheat button.
  • Check if the thermostat is functioning efficiently. To do this, you can use an oven thermometer and place it inside the oven, after preheating, check if the thermometer is showing the same temperature as the thermostat indicates. If it shows a variation more than 5-10 degrees, get a technician to calibrate the oven and check again. Do not resort to guess work as it can lead to disastrous baking results. Get your oven fixed rather than trying to work around a heating problem.
  • Also, since most combination convection microwave ovens come with a turntable, it is important to place the wire tripod (usually provided with the oven) on the turntable and place the baking pan ON TOP of the wire rack. The heat needs to get to the baking pan from all sides. When the baking pan is placed on top of the turntable without any height, the bottom cooks poorly.
  • Once the oven is placed in the convection mode, oven proof utensils can be used. These include metal, aluminum, silicone, bake proof glass and paper.
  • One issue which most people complain about is that a convection oven does not result in a crust/ browning the way an OTG does. This is true, only because of the distribution of heat via the fan. To get a deeper coloured result, turn on the overhead grill in your convection oven for the last 1 minute of baking. Anything more and it will dry out your cake.
  • Unless the oven is overheating or underheating, do not change the baking temperature for any recipe. Follow the temperature and baking time as specified by the recipe instructions.
  • The key to getting the best results from your oven, no matter what kind it is, is PRACTICE. The more you bake, the more comfortable you get with your oven and its functions. All ovens are different and they do give varying results. But to solely blame the oven for a baking disaster is not correct. Many times, when probed, my students who complain about not getting proper results with a convection oven will confess that they messed up the recipe and then blamed the oven.
  • Baking is a science, mostly chemistry. It is the combination of the right proportion of Wet + Dry ingredients, combined with a rising agent and exposed to a certain amount of heat. An error in any of these elements will result in a bad product. I will do a baking 101 soon.

Garlic bread rolls recipe (Makes 12 rolls)

3 cups flour ( I used 1.5 cups wheat flour + 1.5 cups all purpose flour)

1 teaspoon active dried yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup warm milk (temperature of the milk should be about 95-97 degrees F – when you place your finger in the liquid, it should feel a few degrees warmer than your body temperature. Any hotter and you will kill the yeast)

1.5 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons soft butter

3-4 pods of fresh garlic, grated or use 1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon herbs of choice (optional, use dried or fresh)

room temperature water as needed (about 2/3 cup)

1/4-1/2 cup dry flour for kneading

Method: warm the milk and add the sugar and yeast to it. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should froth up and form a foam like cappuccino. If this does not happen, wait a few more minutes. If there is no frothing, it is safe to assume that the yeast is either inactive or that the water is too hot. Discard the mixture and start again. If it does not work the second time as well, get a fresh batch of yeast.

Measure the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and garlic to the bowl and mix with your fingers. Add the herbs also if using.

Once the yeast has frothed up, add the milk to the flour and combine to make a dough. Add extra water, at room temperature, to make a dough that feels a little soft and sticky. The dough should be much softer and wetter than roti dough. Do not be tempted to add dry flour to this mixture.

Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

On a clean and dry surface, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of dry flour, dump the dough onto the surface and knead with your hands for 10 minutes. At first the dough will be very sticky and difficult to manage. But resist the temptation to add more dry flour. Add the butter and oil a little at a time to create a smooth and elastic dough. Use only half the dry flour and only IF needed. When you touch the dough, it should feel rubbery to the touch once kneaded. Roughly 10 minutes of kneading should be sufficient.

to check if the dough is ready, take a small marble sized piece and roll it into a ball. Gently spread it between your fingers to see if it spreads without tearing. If it tears too easily, the dough needs to be kneaded some more.

Spread a little oil on a clean bowl, shape the dough into a round and place it in the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a damp cloth. Leave it to rise in a warm spot which doesnt get direct breeze for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the weather and how warm your kitchen is.

The dough should become double in size. If you are unsure, just place the dough in a plastic see through container. On the outside, take a ruler and mark the inches. When you place the dough, if it is at 4 inches, it should come up to 8 inches when it is ready. When you place the dough in the container if it was at 3 inches, it should come up to 6inches. Etc.

Once the dough has risen, gently turn it onto a kneading surface. Press out the air gently and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape them into balls, ensuring to press and seal the loose ends at the bottom. Repeat with all the dough balls.

Prepare a 9 inch round or square baking pan by brushing it with melted butter or oil. Place an aluminum foil at the bottom of the baking pan and brush this too with oil/ melted butter. This is optional, but makes for an easy clean up and prevents the rolls from sticking to the pan.

Place the shaped rolls 1 inch apart in the baking pan. Cover with a damp cloth or clingfilm and leave in a warm spot for 30 minutes to rise to double. The space between the rolls should be filled with the plumped up dough. The tops can be brushed with a beaten egg, I skipped this step. This egg wash gives a deep browning to the top.

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees Celsius. Place the metal baking rack in the middle of the oven. Place the baking pan with the rolls on this. Close the oven door and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Check the doneness at 25 minutes, by gently opening the oven door & checking the rolls. They should have a uniform golden brown top. If they are still pale, continue to bake for 3-4 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Brush the hot rolls with melted butter. Remove the rolls gently from the pan by turning the pan upside down onto a rack or a plate, cover with a dry clean kitchen cloth and cool another 5 minutes.

Enjoy the rolls warm with butter or a gravy curry/ stew or soup.

Home made bread will dry out if left exposed. Cover with a clean dry cloth until needed. Do not put the hot rolls in a closed container, they will steam and get soggy.

To store leftovers, either wrap with clingfilm and store, or place it on paper towels and then put it in an airtight container. Always refrigerate bread if not using within 24 hours.

I would love to answer any questions you may have for this recipe. If you have read this far, then thank you for your patience. If you try this out, please send me a picture of your bread rolls.

Happy baking!

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

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K’s lunchbox is like my one excited cooking moment of the day. What to make (and subsequently pack) is a question I am asking myself almost everyday.

I make a weekly list of things I can make in the stupor of the morning that won’t take too long. It helps to have a list because in the mornings, the last thing I can do is to be creative while watching the clock hands tick away. This pasta (like most pastas in my life) is crowd pleasing and can be done in less than 20 minutes. Quantities can be altered according to need and passes muster on my benchmark for a dish that is a crowd pleaser – is welcome at a lunch / brunch buffet.

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

You know those garlic pods, that decide to spring to life in the vegetable tray of the fridge? I planted a bunch of them in a plastic takeaway tub filled with growing medium. In a week, green garlic shoots were ready for cutting. I snip them with a pair of scissors and they grow back. Conveniently placed on the wall of my kitchen, they are at arms length to be thrown into scrambled eggs, omelets, pasta, soup or a salad. Sometimes I use them in place of fresh coriander leaves as a garnish for Indian style vegetable dishes. They add a mild garlic flavour and are subtle enough not to make you want to drink mouthwash after your meal 😛DSC_0406

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta (Serves 2)

3  cups cooked pasta (I used penne, but any short pasta will do)

1 medium onion, sliced thickly

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/4 cup fresh garlic chives

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Olive oil

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the oil, when warm, toss in the red chilli flakes, after a couple of seconds, ensuring the chilli doesn’t burn, add the onion and mushrooms and a little of the salt.

Saute for 3-4 minutes until the mushroom and onions are very lightly caramelising.

Add the cooked pasta, and toss well. Season with salt as per taste, garnish with the garlic chives and toss again. Drizzle with 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil and serve.

Done!

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Thotakura Vepudu (Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry) ~ Andhra Style Recipe

In my maternal home, we always had a variety of greens growing in the yard. It was uncommon for us to buy any greens for the table, but for spinach which didn’t grow. We had tonnes of Amaranth, atleast 5-6 varieties of it, Malabar Spinach (three kinds), drumstick leaves, night shade spinach and some other stuff which are not commercially grown. My mother would step out, pluck enough for either a quick stir fry or a dal, step back inside and cook the greens all inside of 20 minutes. the taste of fresh greens is a treat and cannot be replicated by commercially grown greens one bit.

This dish was made from the fresh amaranth leaves I picked from my container garden. Its a glorified name for the assorted pots and old recycled buckets i have up on my terrace where I am attempting to grow a few vegetables and herbs. The bonus was this amaranth. It sprouted on its own because of the seeds present in the soil that was purchased. Each morning I go upstairs, sometimes with my dog Sage, sometimes just a cup of coffee, look around to see what seeds have sprouted, which plant is flowering or fruiting and get anxious if i see a pest or a plant wilting.

This is a very simple recipe, that gets done in no time. You can replace the amaranth leaves with spinach or any greens of your choice. Usually, we add chopped garlic to the greens to increase its flavour. this dish is a good accompaniment with steamed rice and dal / sambhar or roti.

Thotakura Vepudu

Thotakura Vepudu

Thotakura Vepudu (Andhra Style Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry – Serves 2)

Fresh Amaranth Leaves (Thotakura)               4-5 cups, tough stalks removed, washed, drained and chopped

onion                                                                          1 medium, chopped

Garlic Cloves                                                             2-3, skinned and chopped

oil                                                                                 1 teaspoon

salt                                                                               to taste

mustard seeds                                                       1 teaspoon

Whole cumin seeds                                              1 teaspoon

Green Chilli                                                              1, slit lengthwise

In a pan, heat the oil, splutter the cumin and mustard and add the chopped garlic. saute for a minute till aromatic, add the chopped onions and green chilli and fry till the onions are translucent. Add the washed, drained and chopped amaranth leaves and saute the greens a few times. the leaves will sweat and a lot of water will be released, which on a medium to low flame needs to be evaporated, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 4-5 minutes till the pan is almost dry but not sticking. Add the salt, taste and adjust. Switch off the heat and serve up with rotis or steamed rice and dal.

 

 

Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning Recipe (Step by Step Pictures)

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Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

I made this for lunch yesterday. My friend A was to come over and she always enjoys what I make. Unfortunately there was a mishap and her darling pooch Happy was injured and had to be rushed to the hospital and she couldn’t come. Happy has had a fracture and will undergo surgery on the weekend, send him your love and good energies. A, this is for you.

This is a simple recipe to bake and grill vegetables. I use the En Papilote method which means ‘in parchment’ ~ the food is put into a pocket made of parchment, aluminium foil or any other oven proof material and baked. While a lot of recipes for baked vegetables will do it open spread out on a baking dish, I find that the flavor of the seasoning is deeper and the vegetables cook more evenly this way. After cooking the vegetables covered in foil for a while, I remove the foil and grill them for a bit to char the edges. The result is deep flavors of seasoning, sweetness of the vegetables and crispy ends! Totally yummy!

My friends J & B love vegetables made this way. I never posted the recipe here because there is no way one can make grilled and baked vegetables look good! It’s such a good way of eating vegetables that I decided even if there were no good pictures, I had to post the recipe here.

I used whatever vegetables I had on hand. This is a very forgiving way of baking and grilling and almost any kind of vegetable tastes good.

Baked and Grilled Vegetables with Taco Seasoning Recipe (Serves 3-4)

4 Cups of Vegetables cut into medium wedges ( use assorted colored peppers, potato – sweet and regular),  onion, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, green beans, zucchini etc)

salt to taste

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning (or a seasoning of your choice)

1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder (or Sweet Paprika)

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled

Method

Wash and pat dry the vegetables. Cut them into medium wedges.

Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

Vegetables with Taco Seasoning

Mix the vegetables with the rest of the ingredients except the salt in a large bowl, check the seasoning and add salt to taste.  Let it stand for 10 minutes while you pre heat your oven to 200 C

Place a large piece of aluminium foil in your baking tray, enough to be fastened into a pouch once the vegetables are arranged.

Seal the edges of the foil to make a pouch

Seal the edges of the foil to make a pouch

Layer the vegetables onto the foil covered baking tray and close the ends to form a pouch.

Bake at 200C for 20 minutes. Wear Oven gloves and take the baking tray out of the oven, carefully with a knife open out the closed pouch.

Baked and out of the oven

Baked and out of the oven

Wear oven gloves and be very careful as the steam is very hot and you can scald yourself. 

Turn on the grill of your oven, turn the foil downwards from the baking tray, place the vegetables back into the oven and grill for 5 minutes till the edges of the vegetables are beginning to char.

Grilled after baking

Grilled after baking

Remove, rest the vegetables for 5 minutes before serving.

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