Sizzling Fajita Whole Wheat Pita

August 29, 2008

The wheat flour I bought to bake whole wheat focaccia earlier was still lying around on my kitchen counter. Wanting to use it again, I started looking for recipes and I ended up here. I’ve been a silent reader on Jugalbandits’ blog for over a year. Theirs in one of the blogs I visit everyday. Their writing is witty, funny, sarcastic (I love it!), lively and really inspiring. Their enthusiasm for living a healthy life is remarkable. I don’t know if I can find any more adjectives for them..am kinda running out. 🙂 However, Bee and Jai, I do want to say thank you for your blog and I really do appreciate it!

Whole wheat pita

Now I made the pitas, but did not know what to eat them with. Don’t get me wrong, they were really tasty, however I wanted it to be complete healthy meal. When I opened the refrigerator to see what all I had, I had nothing substantial. J and I are going out of town for the long weekend and I have been avoiding going to the grocery store till after the trip. All I found were frozen Morningstar products, marinated onions that I keep on hand for sandwiches, etc., and cheese. J and I whipped this dish out and it was quite tasty for not using any fresh vegetables. It may seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it just took us 40 mins to prepare the meal..including 30 mins. of marinating time. However, there was a lot of cleaning after the everything was done, but J took care of it 😀

Ta

PS: I marinate one onion at a time and it stays good for at least 10 days in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Sizzling Fajita Whole Wheat Pita
(Serves 3, Makes 8 pitas)

Ingredients

For Whole Wheat Pita

2 cups Whole wheat flour
2 tsp dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

For Vegan Steak Fajita

1 packet Morningstar Steak strips
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dried garlic (you can use fresh..I was just lazy to use the fresh one)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp brown sugar
salt
pepper

For marinated onions (Can be made few days ahead)

1 red onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper

For Yogurt-Feta Sauce

2/3 cups yogurt
1/3 cup feta cheese (I used mediterranean herb feta cheese)
1/2 tsp dried garlic
salt
pepper

Method

For pita bread

Knead all the ingredients together into a soft dough. The dough should be smooth and it may be slightly sticky. Add olive oil, just enough to coat the dough and let it sit covered in a warm place for 1.5 hrs. Deflate the dough and knead for one min. Divide the dough into eight equal parts and roll them into balls. Place the balls in a baking sheet and cover them with a towel to prevent them from drying. Place a baking stone (if you are using a baking sheet, place it inside the oven when you are ready to bake pitas) and preheat the oven to 500 degree F. Take one ball and roll it out so that it is 3/16 of an inch thick, sprinkle semolina/cornmeal if using baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Bake it for 4 mins. approx. If it starts browning, take itout immediately even if not puffed up. Once done (does not smell yeasty), take it out of the oven and let it cool on wire rack. Repeat till all dough is used up. Once cooled, wrap the pitas in aluminum foil.

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For marinated onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Slice the onion into thin rings. One trick I have learned for slicing/chopping onions is that put the onion in the freezer for 15 mins. Take it out and then chop/slcie to avoid “crying” over the onions. When kept in the freezer, the gas that gets released while chopping an onion also freezes. So no more crying! Line a baking sheet with foil and lay the onion slices on the sheet. Bake the onions for 30 mins. While the onions are getting baked, in a bowl mix balsamic vinegar, oil, brown sugar, herbs and salt and pepper. Once onions are baked, cool them and add them to the balsamic mix. Store them in an air tight container for a later use.

For fajitas, mix all the ingredients other than the morningstar vegan steak in a bowl. Add herbs or anything else you might want to add per your taste. Pour the marinade in a ziploc bag. Add frozen vegan steak to the ziplock bag and shake it to coat all the pieces. Let them sit for at least 30 mins. Heat a skillet on medium heat and cook the steak pieces for about 5 mins.

For yogurt-feta sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Refrigerator it, until you are ready for assembling the pitas.

For assembly, spread about 1.5 Tbsp of the yogurt-feta sauce on the pita. Add pew pieces of vegan steak and onions. Fold it and tada..its ready to serve. You can also do the same in a pita pocket.

This goes to Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen for the Tried & Tasted event featuring Jugalbandhi for the month of August and to Sia of Monsoon Spice hosting the JFI – Soya blog event.

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100% Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

August 26, 2008

Focaccia bread is one of my favorite breads. Actually, now that I think about it, each and every bread is my favorite! Focaccia bread is similar to pizza, the main difference being focaccia having a thicker crust than pizza. I had so much fun baking my first focaccia that I had to make a whole wheat version of it.

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After reading a lot of posts on whole wheat breads from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, I had to buy the book. I am an avid baker, but not by any chance a pro. So this book was a big help in understanding the science behind baking using whole grains. If you are really interested in whole grain bread baking, this book is definitely for you.

I adapted the focaccia recipe from the book. The book calls for a 17 x 12 inch focaccia. However, this being my first time with whole grains, I halved the recipe. The final product was a crunchy yet chewy warm focaccia. J had his with some asiago cheese spread whereas I was quite content with the plain focaccia dipped in olive oil!

Ta

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Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Focaccia
(Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads)
(Makes 13 x 9 inch focaccia)

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour (preferably fine grind)
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
1/2 + 1/8 tsp dry yeast
1 cup + 1 Tbsp water (room temperature)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
3/4 Tbsp olive oil

For Olive oil topping

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt

Method

In a bowl, mix flour, salt, yeast, water and agave nectar for about 2 mins.The dough will be sticky, but smooth. Add olive oil to the dough and mix for another 15 sec. Let the dough rest, uncovered for 5 mins and then mix again for 2 mins. If the dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil to grease the parchment paper including the side walls. Place the dough on the sheet pan. Rub the top of the dough with 1 tsp of olive oil. Flatten the dough using the palms of your hands. The dough might not cover the entire pan. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

The next day remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit out for 4 hours. While the dough is resting, pour 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan. Add all the dried herbs mentioned in the ingredients. Heat the oil for 3 mins. Let the oil sit at room temperature.

Remove the plastic wrap covering the dough and drizzle 1 tsp of olive over it. Using your fingertips, starting in the middle, press the dough so as to fill out the pan. The pressed dough may still not fill the pan. Loosely cover the pan and let it sit for 20 mins. Repeat this procedure again. The third time, pour the herbed oil and using your fingertips again press the dough. You will see air pockets as you press. This time the dough should fill most of the pan. Cover the pan and let the dough sit for 2 hours.

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Preheat the oven at 500 degrees F. Add sea salt on top of the dough and place it in the oven. Reduce the oven temperatutre to 450 degrees F and bake for 15 mins. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and let it bake for another 11 mins.

Remove it from the oven and let focaccia cool on a wire rack. After 10 mins. slice it and serve with some olive oil.

This bread goes to Bread Baking Day # 13: 100% Whole Grains hosted by Jude of Apple Pie, Patis, & Pate.


Tikhi Bhakri (Spicy Wheat Flatbread)

August 25, 2008

Bhakri is a crispy unleavened wheat flatbread. I say spicy in the title, but it is not really spicy at all. It does include a small amount of red chili powder..thus the name spicy I guess. However, bhakri dough is very stiff..stiffer than parathas’ dough. I think making bhakris is an arm workout in itself…the main reason I think twice before making them 😉

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Tikhi bhakri has been my favorite breakfast ever since I can remember. When we were kids, mom made this for us every Sunday morning. We used to so look forward to it. Hot bhakris with a dollop (I know..but I loved it!) of ghee on top of it and some godkeri (a gujju pickle) and lasan chutney on side with hot cup of tea! It was purely heaven. Both my sister and me would stuff ourselves up with bhakris and tea and then skip lunch. Even now, whenever I visit India, mom makes this every single morning of my visit.

When J and I visited India about 2 years ago for our second wedding ceremony (We got married once here in the US and my family couldn’t get here due to late visa appointments and a second time in India), it was his first time there and naturally he was quite nervous about meeting my family, relatives, indian food, etc. It was during this trip that I realized that in India (at least in our home), we have so many varieties of foods, gujarati, maharashtrian, north indian, south indian, street food..the list can go on. But all this is still Indian food..with Indian spices, curries, etc. unlike here in US where we cook/eat italian, indian, mexican, middle eastern, etc. cuisines. It was very difficult for J because first he had to be a vegetarian for two weeks..which he could manage (barely! 😉 ) and second he couldn’t take indian food for 3 times a day for two straight weeks. We had to go to restaurants for italian food and pizzas so that he could get a break. But one thing that he loved and begged my mom to make it, was tikhi bhari. He pretty much had it 3 times a day on some occasions. It is a prefect breakfast for us now…i.e. when I am ready for an arm workout!

Ta

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Recipe: Tikhi Bhakri
(Makes 6 bhakris)

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups wheat flour (atta)
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp oil
Salt per taste
Warm water for kneading


Method

In a plate with sides, mix flour, red chili powder, turmeric, salt and oil. Pour warm water in the mix and knead till you get a stiff dough. Make six equal pieces of dough. Roll each piece of dough into a round disc..about 1/4″ thick.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Place one rolled disc onto the skillet. When you see bubbles forming on the top side of the disc, turn it to cook the other side. With a clean kitchen towel press on the top of bhakri. Turn it to the other side and repeat pressing it down with the kitchen towel. This makes the bhakri crsipy. Once cooked on both sides, place the bhakri on a plate and pour a small amount of ghee on it. Repeat till all bhakris are cooked. Enjoy it with a cup of tea!

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Agave Walnut Bread

August 1, 2008

Yet another effort at baking bread. Barely a week had gone by since I last baked brioches and I was itching to bake some more. This is what baking addiction is like I guess 🙂 But this time I think I went a tinsy bit overboard with the amount of bread I baked. Also, I couldn’t score the bread nicely. Instead of nice cuts, the cut I made on the dough ended up looking like an weird mark on the bread! I’ll have to practice more and read up on how to score a bread.

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I was browsing through various bread recipes and came across King Arthur’s Walnut Bread recipe. I had all the ingredients the recipe needed, so once back from work I started on getting my kitchen messy (everytime I bake, my kitchen couldn’t get any more messy!) In the recipe it says it makes 2 loaves. And I assumed (A wrong assumption!) it meant two medium sized loaves..but oh no..it made 4 medium loaves!!! I had to go knocking on my neighbour’s door at 9:20 pm to give them some bread…not that they complained 🙂

I made some tweaks to the original recipe. The end result was warm, slightly sweet with a crunch (walnuts) bread. The next morning I toasted and buttered a slice and it was heavenly. I think next time I might add walnut oil to it instead of olive oil and see if it makes the bread even better.

Ta

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Recipe: Agave Walnut Bread
(Makes 4 medium sized loaves)

Ingredients
5-1/2 cups All purpose flour + extra to sprinkle on the loaves
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp dry yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup olive oil + extra to coat the dough
1/2 cup agave nectar
1-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts


Method

In a bowl dissolve yeast in water. Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and let sit for 10 minutes. Add olive oil, agave nectar and salt to the flour-yeast mix. Add the remaining flour to the bowl and mix till you get a mass of dough. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface. Add more flour if needed to get smooth dough. Drizzle some oil onto the dough and knead till entire surface of the dough is coated with olive oil. Put the dough into a bowl, cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm place for 1-1/2 hours.

Punch (gently) the dough and knead inthe walnuts. Divide the dough in the sizes of loaves you want. Roll each piece of dough into a ball. Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle it with semolina flour. Place two dough balls on the cookie sheet (the other 2 on another cookie sheet) and cover the cookie sheet with a towel. Let the dough sit for 30 mins. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sprinkle flour on top of the loaves and score the bread with a knife.

Bake the loaves for 35 mins. They should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Cool the loaves on a rack before cutting into them.


Simple Meal – Thepla

July 30, 2008

Have you had one of those lazy days when you just want to sleep on the couch and do nothing? Well, that was today for me. Not that I could sleep on the couch..I had to go to work.  😦 But even at work I just didn’t have any energy. I so wanted the day to get over so I can go home, lie down on my comfortable couch, get my blanky and watch “So You Think You Can Dance” (OMG..I love that show!) 😀

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J and I coincidentally work in the same building (I know how lucky is that!) so I kept bugging him the entire day by calls and even met up with him twice to chit chat. Every time we talked we discussed what we would have for dinner. We tossed quite a few ideas, but seeing how really energetic I was (uh huh!) we decided to just do either pizza or Chinese delivery. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t have been more excited! But once home, I felt guilty about eating unhealthy food once again (we had pizza hut pizza yesterday! 😕 ). So I rolled up my sleeves (metaphorically speaking..with sleeveless t-shirt it didn’t work 😉 ) and decided to have some thepla. My mom recently had sent some home made gujju pickles (murabo, chundo, godkeri, methi, etc.) all the way from India (Thank you thank you mom!!!). And what better to go with thepla…..chundo (sweet, tangy, spicy mango pickle) and MASALA TEA! Yes, tea..this is one of my comfort meals. I know tea probably sounds weird for dinner, but I love the whole combination. In fact, J who never had thepla before, loved them as well. He chowed them down with murabo (sweet, cardamom, saffron mango pickle) and tea. 🙂

Ta

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Recipe: Thepla
(Makes 12 medium sized)

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups atta (wheat flour) + some for rolling theplas
3 Tbsp oil + oil for cooking
1 tsp turmeric
1-1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
salt per taste
water for kneading dough


Method

Mix flour, oil, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, and salt. Knead a little bit with the oil that was added to the flour so all the spices and salt gets mixed. Now add water and knead the dough. The dough should not be too tough or too soggy. It should have a medium consistency. Cover the dough and let it sit for 15 mins or so. (Time to get the tea ready 😉 ) Break the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each ball of dough into a thin disc (Not too thin as roti). I usually roll out each of the 12 dics and then start cooking them as I do not have speed nor can I multi task. Once you have rolled the theplas, heat a pan on medium-high heat (you don’t want to cook on too low heat, as it will result in rubbery thepla). Place one of the theplas on the pan. Cook on one side till you see bubbles forming on the underside. Turn the thepla over and smear the cooked side with oil. Turn it over again and smear the other side with oil. Cook both sides till they are done (brown spots start to appear). Continue till you have cooked all 12 theplas and enjoy with some masala tea!


Soft Orange Scented Brioches

July 27, 2008

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Of late I think I have caught the baking bug. I never thought baking would be fun and oh my gosh, I totally love it! I first started by baking the Focaccia Bread, which turned out pretty good than what I had imagine it would be. I had some blackberries and raspberries left over from the Baked French Toast I had made for Sia’s WBB-Breakfast Blog Event. So I tried to bake some raspberry and blackberry muffins. The recipe called for 2 tsp of baking soda. Now to confess to everyone, I did not know what the difference between baking powder and baking soda was. I know that is terrible, but I had never baked before. All I had at home was baking soda and thought about substituting baking soda for powder. I researched online about the difference between the two and realized that I could not substitute baking soda for baking powder. But I had already mixed the dough and the other ingredients and didn’t feel like going to the store to buy baking powder. So I used 1 tsp of baking soda instead and boy o boy, was that a big mistake! The muffins just didn’t taste right..there seemed to be something missing in the muffins. And I learned from my mistake to never take baking lightly and NEVER substitute baking soda with baking powder or vice verse.

After the muffin disaster, I couldn’t keep my mind off baking and decided to make Nicky of Delicious Days’ Orange Scented Brioches. I had vowed to myself not to screw this one up. So the night before we were supposed to leave for our family vacation to Arkansas, I got my bowls, ingredients and my Kitchenaid mixer ready and set out baking. In the beginning, Nicky’s recipe calls for adding flour, milk, sugar and yeast and to stir it once or twice and let it sit for 15 mins. And for me to not make a mistake was not at all possible. For some reason I thought the recipe called out for 1/3 cup of milk and while I was mixing I thought something was wrong because the dough seemed dry. So I check the recipe again and find out that I had messed up my metric to US (cup) conversion. It was supposed to be 1 cup of milk. I added the remaining amount of milk and mixed it again. By then I had mixed the flour far more times than the recipe called for. And after 15 mins of letting the covered dough rise, I did not see any bubbles on the surface as the recipe says it should. That scared me and I was not sure how the brioches would taste. But you have got to trust Nicky’s recipes..they are AWESOME! My screw up did not make that big of a difference in taste (at least that’s what I like to think ;)) When I took the brioches out of the oven, the kitchen was filled with orange scent and though it was 10 pm I could not resist having one with some strawberry preserves.

The only thing I can say about them is that you have to try some in order to explain the rich, sweet texture of the brioche. We took the brioches to Arkansas the next day and the whole family had them for breakfast. They all loved them. My nieces thought I had added some orange juice to them, LOL!

Ta

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Orange Scented Brioches (Adapted from: Delicious Days)

Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk
1 packet of dry yeast
2-1/2 cups All purpose flour (I had to add more flour than the original recipe calls for)
1 tsp of sugar for initial dough
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter + extra to brush the brioches once done
zest of one orange


Method

Mix flour, 1 tsp sugar, milk and yeast in a bowl and stir a couple of times. Cover the bowl and let it sit a warm spot for 15 mins. Add remaining sugar, egg, orange zest, salt, melted butter to the bowl and knead the dough. I used mixer to knead the dough but you can knead it with your hands as well. If the dough seems sticky (dough should be able to come off of the sides of the bowl easily), add more flour. Cover the bowl again and let it sit for 45 mins in a warm place (I placed it in the turned off oven). Place the dough on a floured board and knead one more time. Preheat the oven at 390 F. Divide the dough into 12 equal dough balls. Prepare the muffin tray by placing paper muffin cups in the tray (or you can butter the tray). Place the dough balls in each muffin holder on the tray. Place the muffin tray in the oven and bake the brioches for 17 mins. Remove the brioches from the oven and brush them with the remaining melted butter. After the last step, DO NOT just pop one in your mouth, though the taste will be fantastic, I do not guarantee that your mouth will not be burnt. 😉

This bread would be perfect for Bread Baking Day #12 blog event hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. Hope you all enjoy it! 🙂

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