“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.”
Thomas Keller

Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadIt’s the season to be jolly, and in many ways jolly hungry! Fresh off the success of the sweet apple olive oil popovers and pull apart bread, I was keen to do a savoury version. The dough which came together beautifully for the Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pop-overs and Pull-Apart Bread delivered its promise in this wonderful Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Olive Oil Pull-Apart Bread.

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Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadEggless, butterless yet light and scrumptious had won me over. The Pioneer Womans Cinnamon Roll Dough which I got from an adaptation from Ginny @ Cooking With Chopin, Living With Elmo for The Secret Recipe Club this month seems to have been one of the best discoveries of the year. It took to the apple stuffing so well, I decided to try my luck with savoury. I sneaked in some butter this time though!Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadSavoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadI might bake and blog a load of sweet on PAB, but my heart is totally savoury. Nothings delights my palette more than savoury bakes, the success of which are always very rewarding. I enjoyed making this bread, adding some red and green chili peppers that I had preserved in vinegar a few days ago. Tangy, chili, salty … loads of flavour in them. I think preserved olives or maybe roasted bell peppers would compliment this bread too. Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadServed my bread with some fresh homemade tomato soup, chargrilled broccoli with chili & garlic and chicken paillards in compound lime cumin butter. Wonderful! I find that working flavours into a basic dough prior to the rising makes the bread burst with flavour, and just the way the family loves it. I reached out for ingredients I found on my counter, in my pantry, in my fridge… flecks of red and green for the holiday season keeping me inspired!Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadInto the dough went dried herbs {fresh would be wonderful too}, garlic {we are a family that loves our garlic}, finely chopped almonds {just because I think nuts add great texture and taste to savoury breads; walnuts would be great too}. As a departure from the earlier recipe, I kneaded the dough for a minute or two before the final rise as it worked some elasticity into the dough, making it more pliable. {I made the dough in my Thermomix. You could use dough hooks or your processor as the dough is quite soft/doughy/sticky}Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart BreadIn other completely unrelated news, my Thai chili plant from Down Under is finally in bloom and I cant wait to ‘harvest’ the first crop. The chilies look purplish at the moment, though I thought they were going to be red! Hmmm…Chili plantOh and our little Coco turned all of 6 months old, naughty as can be. She got thoroughly spoilt and completely untrained in the 4 days I was away … uber naughty again but C.U.T.E.!! Sigh!

Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread


Prep Time: 3 hours

Bake Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 2 loaves

Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

A full of flavour, light savoury pull apart bread. Olive oil, red & green preserved chili peppers, garlic and sharp cheddar make this a wonderful light choice for the festive season. {Eggless/vegetarian}


Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread

1 portion dough {recipe follows}

200gm sharp cheddar {or mozzarella}

Preserved chili peppers {or olives, roasted bell peppers etc}

50-75gm unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Dough {from The Pioneer Womans cinnamon rolls; can be made a day ahead}

2 cups whole milk, warm

1/2 cup light olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 heaping spoon salt

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

2-3 tbsp dried Italian herbs {or fresh}

1tsp red chili flakes

1 package active dry yeast

4 cups {plus 1/2 cup extra, separated} all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon {heaping} baking powder

1/2 teaspoon {scant} baking soda

1/2 to 3/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped fine


  1. Mix the milk, olive/vegetable oil and sugar in a pan (LARGE POT).
  2. Sprinkle in the Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute {5-10minutes}.
  3. Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
  4. After rising for at least an hour, add 1/2 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Knead the dough for a minute or two before the final rise as it seems to work some elasticity into the dough, making it more pliable. {I made the dough in my Thermomix. You could use dough hooks or your processor as the dough is quite soft/doughy/sticky}
  5. {At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down}
  6. Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Pull-Apart Bread
  7. Grease the sides of an 8" Victoria sandwich tin, and line the base.
  8. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/4" thick, and pour over half the melted butter, spreading evenly with an offset spatula.
  9. Grate cheddar all over, and sprinkle over with chopped pickled chili peppers.
  10. Roll the larger end like a swiss roll. With a sharp knife {or floss} cut into12 portions, and place cut side up in the prepared tin all around the edges. There will be gaps in the dough, don't worry. All the gaps get filled in as the bread rises before and during baking. {You could also use a muffin tray. I lined the bottoms with circles of parchment and greased the sides.}
  11. Place a dessert ring/mould in the centre so that the dough doesn't spread inward. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double, about an hour.
  12. Bake at 180°C 40-45 minutes. Cover with foil last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over browning. Brush with the remaining melted butter as soon as it comes out.
  13. Leave in pan for 15-20 minutes, then loosen the sides with a butter knife and turn out.
  14. Serve warm or at room temperature. {The bread tastes good the next day too, sliced and reheated on a non stick pan with a few drops of EVOO}


I made half the above portion.


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“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”
Marcel Boulestin

Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneYes, I was back at a delicious food blog, The Mansurov’s, a favourite, but lack of time the past 2 months has kept me away from most of my faves. I have no idea what happened to time, but can’t believe that it’s December already! Hello? Still so much to do before the year goes by, bookmarked posts to try, breads to bake, cookies to make, fruit to soak for the cake, drafts to finalise … time to hit the panic button! If 11 months flew by so fast, then the rest of 2010 will be gone in a heartbeat!I’ve always wanted to bake a chicken pie at home, ever since we had some at Harry’s in Sydney way back in November 2008. Harry’s pies were served with peas and mash, and probably had gravy too. It’s been on my list to make forever, but I’ve never found a recipe that appealed to me a 100%. I had a vision in my mind … it would have a yummy ‘chicken with veggies’ interior, held together by a luxurious creamy sauce, with this puff pastry top etc. I repeatedly ‘chickened’ out each time, and my home made puff pastry found other use.Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneThis time as well was the same, well almost. Push came to shove, and we had folk for dinner. I sorted out almost sorted out the menu, but couldn’t get the right main course. Browsing the net, I saw this at Lola’s and I just knew it had to be the one. Her opening lines were as delicious as the dish itself. Just the fact that this is where French cuisine met Russian had me virtually eating the julienne right off her blog. Seriously, something strangely beautiful happens to the flavours of the sauce when you roast the flour before you add the butter. I think Lola mentioned clarified butter somewhere in her conversation. Will try that the next time… mmm!Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneIt’s become a favourite in our house already. I’ve made it twice in the last 2 weeks. Am contemplating making a vegetarian version of the julienne, maybe using broccoli, mushrooms, roasted bell peppers and cauliflower. The sauce is creamy and comforting. Once it bakes with the chicken and mushrooms, and stands for a short while, it takes all the ingredients into a ‘warm embrace‘ of sorts. YES, it’s quite the dreamy chicken pie I’ve been waiting for!Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneChanges? Yes, but just a few and more for want of substitution. No full fat cream available here, so I went with low fat cream. Added milk to thin the sauce out as mine was very thick the first time around. I added a grating of Gruyère, chopped garlic greens and roasted bell peppers too. The second time around, I sautéed chicken and mushroom in a huge wok and mixed the warm white sauce through. I then ladled them out into the ramekins. I found it easier to work this way as I was making the dish for a crowd. It’s a great make ahead main course dish, and nice for the hoilday season. You can set up the individual ramekins, or one large serving. Top with mozzarella at this time, {or even later}, cover it with foil and refrigerate it. Before serving, heat in the oven covered for about 15 minutes, and then grill for about 10 minutes on high until the cheese is bubbly and golden on the edges. Don’t skip the mozzarella and the pinch of cayenne … it does contribute beautifully to finishing the dish well!

Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneChicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper Julienne
Adapted from Mansoravs
Makes 12-14 small ramekins
Prep: 45 mins | Bake: 20 mins | Oven: 180C
6 small breasts of chicken, cooked, chopped
200gms button mushrooms, sliced fine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
4-5 stalks garlic greens, chopped fine
3 roasted bell peppers, red & yellow, chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
50gm butter
200ml low fat cream {I use Amul 25% fat cream}
50gm Gruyère, grated {or cheddar}
1 1/4- 1 1/2 cup milk {as required}
200gms shredded mozzarella {I use Himalayan Buffalo Mozzarella}
Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper Julienne
Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large wok. Sauté the chopped onions, garlic and garlic greens until fragrant, and the onions begin to colour a bit. Add the chopped chicken and mushrooms, and stir fry on high heat till the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt & pepper, and red chili flakes if you like. Take off heat, stir in the roasted peppers, cover and keep warm.
Now make the white sauce.
In a dry heavy saucepan, gently roast the flour on very low heat till light brown and fragrant. Add the butter and stir through well. Almost immediately begin to pour the cream in, whisking with a balloon whisk constantly to avoid lumps getting formed. Follow the cream with about 3/4 cup of milk, keep stirring and adding more milk as required. The sauce should be thick, and will continue to thicken as it cools. Grate in some Gruyère or cheddar, a grating of nutmeg if you like, season with salt and once the cheese has melted through, mix it into the warm reserved chicken, mushroom, bell pepper.
Divide this equally into 12-13 ramekins, or turn into one big baking dish, top with mozzarella, a pinch of cayenne and bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to turn a little golden. Stand for about 10 minutes, and serve hot.
Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Pepper JulienneServing suggestions: Char-grilled broccoli salad, potato-mushroom croquettes, and a rustic garlic bread.
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“The true essentials of a feast are only fun and feed.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Cheese Straws, Chocolate Walnut Fudge

The past week was hectic, like being on a baking express! It was the festival of lights, Diwali, here in India, and I decided to bake something as gifts for everyone …. Did I say life became H E C T I C?

DiwaliDiwali is traditionally a festival where people exchange gifts, which include loads of Indian sweetmeats and nuts etc. This year, I gifted home made edibles to most of the near and dear ones … from Buttermilk Pound Cakes to Brownies. For snacks at home, here’s what I made… something savoury, and something sweet.

Cheddar Rosemary Cheese StrawsI loved these Parmesan Cheese Straws with Rosemary when I saw them at Barbara’s beautiful blog Modern Comfort Food. Each post is well written, the pictures gorgeous. Her recipes are simple, straightforward, and full of flavour. I especially loved the ease of these cheese straws where I ran everything in the bowl of the food processor, and voila … we had dough for the straws!

Cheddar Rosemary Cheese StrawsI didn’t even need to chill the dough as it came together beautifully, smooth and easy to roll. I think I might have browned the cheese straws a little extra, or maybe they have a darker hue as compared to the ones on Barbara’s blog, as I used extra cayenne pepper, and additional red chili flakes. The yogurt dip and balsamic vinegar added a tangy twist to the straws, making them very very addictive.

Cheddar Cheese Rosemary StrawsI had to hide them from the kids to stop them being wolfed down. That’s how good they were. They can be made in advance, and the recipe can easily be doubled {which I think is a better idea because they do disappear too soon}! I didn’t realise that they were meant to be straight. I just noticed this when I went across to get the link from Barbara’s blog… anyhow, I gave them all a good twist!

Cheddar Rosemary Cheese StrawsCheddar Rosemary Cheese Straws
Adapted minimally from Modern Comfort Food
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 cup extra sharp mature cheddar, grated
1/4 cup butter, frozen, grated
2 small garlic clove, sliced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yogurt {I used some yogurt dip}
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp roasted red chili flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary {or 1/2 teaspoon dried}
Combine the flour, cheese, butter, garlic, cayenne, red chili flakes, rosemary and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are blended to the consistency of coarse crumbs.
Add the yogurt dip/yogurt and balsamic vinegar. Pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Chill the dough, wrapped, for 30 minutes or more.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, cut to fit.
On a sheet of parchment or wax paper, roll out the chilled dough to a level 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick rectangle of about 6 inches in width. Using a long knife, dipped in flour, cut the dough into thin strips, as shown in the above photo, and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for approximately 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool to room temperature on cake racks and serve. This recipe can be doubled.


Diwali Last year I had made savoury and sweet too… these spicy baked chickpeas from Cathy’s blog, and Rasmalai, an Indian dessert where I used ricotta. This year the time just flew by as I’ve had a busy month, so for sweet I had to pick something express, something fuss free, yet something additive to the sweet tooth! How could I not turn back to chocolate fudge, a fudge with pistachios that my own little Goddess in the making had made a few years ago. Needless to say, times have changed … and how!

Rohan makes chocolate walnut fudgeThat Goddess today decided she was far too busy with her friends, so the Domestic God in the making was roped in. I made him stir and stir, the poor guy, but he was p a t i e n t! He did a great job, concentrated and stirred, while I quickly chopped the nuts on the side, and took a few shots! I had used pistachios the last time, so opted to use walnuts today. Holy yum is the word!

These are absolutely addictive little bites; keep them under lock and key if you know what I mean. The Domestic Goddess not in the making anymore reappeared magically to lick the bowls, spatulas and spoons clean once all the dirty work was done. Then she handed the lad a small scraping to taste, rather disdainfully! The good natured blighter that he is, declared “Condensed milk has never tasted this good before!!

Chocolate Walnut FudgeChocolate Walnut Fudge
Minimally adapted from recipe by Nigella Lawson
350gms dark chocolate / roughly broken up
1 can condensed milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts
Melt the chopped chocolate, condensed milk, butter, and salt in a heavy based pan on a low heat.
Put the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into both big and little pieces.
Add the nuts to the melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix.
Pour this mixture into a 9-inch square foil tray, smoothing the top.
Let the fudge cool and then refrigerate until set.
You can then cut into small pieces approximately 3/4 by 1 3/4 inches or cutting 8 by 8 lines in the tin to give 64 pieces.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

I want to thank two great foodies in India who made me feel very special by sending me these gorgeous gifts recently. Gifts from the ♥ that I was so touched to receive.

Thank you Kishi for this absolutely delicious Raspberry Bavarian Cream Cake, as well as a jar of cocoa nibs which is something I have longed to have in my larder. Kishi can be found at Foodaholics. Do check out her customised range of cakes etc for all occasions. She delivers across Delhi and the NCR!

Sugar Plum FairyAlso a big shout out to Mia in Goa, who blogs at Bright Morning Star, for a delicious bunch of goodies. Gourmet vanilla beans {lots of them; something I can never have enough of}, cookie cutters – fluted, snowflakes, Xmas trees! Also included in the box were Goan curry pastes and some delicious guava jelly. Mia has begun a BLOGGING BY MAIL BUDDY event for Indian Food Bloggers. Do check it out!

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