Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hummus-The Easiest One, Served With Rustic Bread Made With Helen's Brilliant Bread Mix

Can you imagine your pasta without bread, or breakfast without toasted slice of bread? How boring the tea-time will be without sandwiches? Would you like to have you favourite tomato soup without toasted bread? Bread- brown or white, with or without nuts, sweet or savoury, soft or rough- whatever- but it is the only perfect partner for any main course.

Baking bread from starch is a tedious task and I generally stay away from the recipes that have tons of steps to follow and lots of ingredients to use. But no one can deny the fact that -home cooked bread is the best- the texture, the colour, and the aroma-all blissful and satisfying. Thus recently when I was sent Helen’s Bread Mix for review, I was so excited to use it- all you needed was 2 minutes to mix and 3 ingredients to add. The recipe called to use loaf tin, but I am not a huge fan of loaf breads, I like the ones that has rustic and rural feel to it; hence I baked in rough oval shape; but I am sure it will be awesome if baked in a loaf pan. The instructions were easy to follow and the overall process was so much fun -it took 40 minutes for the bread to bake. Soft from inside and hard crust outside- perfect!!

Next time when you are having a party or a get-together, keep few packets of Helen’s bread mix in your kitchen pantry. The process is simple and saves lot of time; you can serve the bread with roasted cherry tomatoes as bruchettas; or accompany with red wine pasta; or toast and serve with burnt chilli tomato soup. Or if like me you are in summery mood, pair it up with hummus- the classic Mediterranean dip.

When you think of summer, what comes in your mind? How about a quick dip with splash of olive oil and dash of lemon juice? Hummus has it all- the flavours, the zing and the touch of sunshine. It is the most popular dip in the Middle East (and now in the world) and is prepared using chickpeas/garbanzo beans and is served with bread.  The authentic hummus recipe needs tahini (paste of sesame seeds and olive oil) but I did not use it and it was still smooth, velvety and tasty- just like authentic ones.

Everyone have their own way and recipe for making hummus- with our without garlic, with or without thaini, with or without olive oil. This is my way- with lots of olive oil, green chilli, garlic, roasted cumin powder, sea salt and lemon juice- all blended to rich and silky dip. For the perfect finish serve with roughly broken toasted bread.

2 cups boiled chickpeas/garbanzo beans/chole
2 cloves garlic/lehsun
1 green chilli/hari mirchi
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder/kali mirch
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder/bhuna jeera powder
Juice from 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water

In the grinder/food processor add in chickpeas, 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder, lemon juice, garlic, 4 tablespoons olive oil, water, green chilli, salt and black pepper powder. Blend to smooth paste.
Take a wide bowl and spread the grinded paste in it. Make swirls with spoon and drizzle remaining olive oil and roasted cumin powder. Serve.

You can also use canned chickpeas. Make sure to wash and drain well.
Use any salt, but sea salt does give the best taste.
Always use good quality olive oil. I used this one . If in India, you can use this one.

Serving ideas:
I served with roughly broken toasted bread, to do the same- put in the preheated oven at 180C for 10 minutes.
For health conscious people- serve with carrot and/or cucumber sticks.
You can also serve with crackers or biscuits.
Moreover you can make the whole serving platter. Serve on a large tray with vegetables kebabs, baked salted crackers and some salad.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or told to write positive review. The post is based on my experience and is unbiased. Thanking Helen's for sending Brilliant Bread Mix to review.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tomato Soup With Smoked Chilli- Good Bye To The Old One

What does soup mean to you? Boring? Pale? For me, Soup means warmth and comfort. I like the one that is infused with flavours; the one that is hot; the one that calms you and soothes your soul. Weather has been pretty nasty these days and with such gloomy weather I can only think of warm cup of soup. Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavour. To bring the best outcome in the soup I always prefer roasting some elements, like roasted tomato garlic soup that I prepared during last winter was peppery and aromatic; or the roasted bell pepper basil soup that I posted was mildly sweet with strong flavours.

Roasting is my favorite thing. I have made lemonade with roasted oranges , pasta sauce with roasted bell peppersfennel seeds roasted cherry tomatoes  and even roasted tomatoes chutney. The fact is, when you roast any fruit or vegetable, it releases its own juice and fragrant due to which the overall profile value of it intensifies. Also, after roasting you are left with strong smoked burnt flavour which is so sharp and intelligent that you will be hooked forever.

So keeping up my love for roasting, I prepared the good old classic tomatoes soup but with the hint of roasted green chilli in it. The tang of tomatoes and charred chillies balances the essence of the soup brilliantly. Perfect makeover to old boring tomato soup because with its each sip, you will get the zest smoked chilli which is amazing.  Serve on a rainy lazy day, or cold winter night with bits of roughly broken toasted bread. Nothing more, make your own batch and thank me later ;-)

3 large tomatoes
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 green chilli
1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
1 tablespoon corn flour
1 tablespoon butter

In a pressure cooker, put the tomatoes, salt and garlic with 2 cups water. Cook on high heat till 2 whistles.
Mix corn flour with 5 tablespoons water. Make a paste.
On a low flame, burn/roast the green chilli. Do this till chilli becomes black and smokey.
Blend the corn flour paste, roasted green chilli and pressure cooked tomatoes in the blender well. Sieve.
Heat another pan and add in butter. When butter melts, add the sieved soup. Also throw in sugar and cook on medium heat till the soup begins to boil.
Finally garnish with crushed black pepper.

You can also add carrots and capsicum in the pressure cooker with tomatoes to boil.
You make this soup one day in advance before any party and just boil before serving.
It is not compulsory to sieve the soup, but sieving gives rich and smooth finish to the soup

Serving ideas:
Serve with croutons or toasted bread.
You can also serve the soup with crackers or soup sticks.
If you don’t want to serve with bread, throw in some boiled pasta or corn in the soup.