Baking | Savoury Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; Sweet Yeasted Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread… bread art with the Daring Bakers

“In the history of art there are periods when bread seems so beautiful that it nearly gets into museums.”  Janet Flanner

Savoury  Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread... bread art with the Daring BakersSavoury  Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread … it was a LOT of bread baking for someone who’s been off all purpose flour for a while now. Yet the Daring Bakers challenge this month made me sit up and take notice. Bread art? Huh? Why had I missed it all along?

Warning: Long post with lots of delicious bread!

Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daring Bakers

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?

Savoury  Hungarian Kalács ... bread art with the Daring BakersSo much so for being a baker and being passionate about it. I do love artisan breads and rustic whole grain breads of all sorts, but one look at The pinterest board of Chef in Disguise had me smitten. I dusted the cobwebs off, crawled out from under the rock and entered an area I didn’t know even existed! 

Whole Wheat Bread 3Not sure about the origins, but from the pins shared on the board, bread art appears to have roots in East Europe, Ukraine and Russia, though I might well be wrong. The only downside is that beautiful breads for bread art need smooth dough {read plain flour} as they involve intricate cutwork and folding etc. In the end the bread is a sight to behold!

Savoury  Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daring BakersThis challenge is just a beginning for me;  I might well try bread art in the near future with part whole grain dough. For a first time, this was fun, although my efforts didn’t result in very stunning ‘bread art’. That said,  making the Savoury  Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread was very enjoyable. They were extremely delicious too!

Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daring Bakers My love for savoury food meant that Savoury  Hungarian Kalács were going to happen very soon, the recipe adapted minimally from here. It’s a really nice dough to work with, and I flavoured it to add a burst of garlic and cheese. Loads of garlic and some mature cheese later, the dough smelt delicious; it was smooth and supple.

Savoury  Hungarian Kalács ... bread art with the Daring Bakers Every flour absorbs liquid a little differently and my dough wasn’t very firm. It baked fine though! I chose to keep the bread vegetarian, so adjusted fillings accordingly.Savoury  Hungarian Kalács, Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daring Bakers The original recipe for Savoury  Hungarian Kalács is a non vegetarian version and much prettier too. It shines with an almost gold hue due to the egg wash which I skipped.

Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daring Bakers The taste? Excellent! It was a battle to keep the kids off my precious bread! One finger gone, then another, and another… it was addictive good they claimed, the best bread ever! So cheesy and garlicky declared junior. Just one more piece begged senior! 

Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daing Bakers 4The Savoury  Hungarian Kalács were declared winners! And so were the little Twisted Buns … just two of them with leftover dough. Really interesting to make, and just enough for a handy dinner for the kids. Thought I’d serve them with crumb fried chicken and a salad on the side.

Twisted Buns; bread art with the Daring Bakers Time wasn’t my best friend as usual, so I sliced them horizontally and grilled them into chicken sandwiches! Best sandwich ever declared the lad; I’ve never had better flavour! All was good and I was pleased at such an inspired Daring Baker challenge!

Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread... bread art with the Daring BakersEgged on by the brilliance of experiment number one, I decided to use the same dough for a sweet version, albeit just half the dough. ‘We’ love sweet stuff in the PAB household, so this was fun again! I had ideas for flavours, and they reminded me of an all time favourite bread, the Povitica!Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread... bread art with the Daring Bakers In went anything and everything on hand…that half tub of Nutella left over from an eggless chocolate pudding experiment, some almond nut praline in the freezer ex a recent recipe development, and some homemade bitter kumquat marmalade! Kumquats are in season {read abundance} and I LOVE using them!

Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread... bread art with the Daring Bakers Even though the bread didn’t look like a piece of perfect art, it tasted brilliant. Such a great combination of flavours, sweet just right, the crunch from the pralines, the undertones of the bitter kumquat marmaladebrilliant! Sweet Yeasted  Nutella, Marmalade & Almond Praline Skillet Bread... bread art with the Daring Bakers

I was so glad I pushed my limits to try both savoury and sweet versions of bread art this month. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Sawsan. Do stop by here and check out the fab bread art the talented Daring Bakers have drawn up! Thank you too Ivonne of  Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Cooking | Mushrooms and Onion Scapes Soup … cooking in season #soup #vegetarian #healthy

“Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”
Auguste Escoffier

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup Mushrooms and Onion Scapes Soup … for the soul! I was completely mesmerised by the onion scapes I bought at the local bazaar. I love this fantastic season. Each time I step into the overflowing fruit and vegetable shop, I rediscover seasonal produce from last year. That day two large bunches of scapes stared at me, and again, shouting my name out LOUD!

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup How could I resist it? I asked the guy for a few stalks, and he packed the whole bunch off with me. Said, “Take the whole bunch. I know you’ll do something with it. All yours!!” Seriously, they are beautiful. I put some in a milk-jug and they began opening into the most beautiful flowers a while later.

onion scapesWasn’t very sure what I’d with so many, but knew how pretty they would look in a vase! Sometimes the real beauty of nature comes from flowers like these. I love them! A discussion with Man Friday followed where he declared these were garlic scapes. A nibble later, I figured they were definitely more oniony than garlicky. 

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup 550 Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup I had mushroom soup on my mind that morning. With the weather nippy all over again, soups offer the ultimate comfort; a healthy option, even better. This one is simple, uses staple pantry ingredients, and can go gluten free too.

Mushroom and Onion Scape SoupIn the past I have made it with mushrooms, potato and a generous amount of fresh coriander. The base is often milk and some vegetable stock as I usually have a large jar of homemade stock in the fridge. When I feel indulgent, you can find me pouring in some low fat cream too! Oh and often walnuts to add texture…

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup Some onion scapes needed a more handy alternative to sitting in the milk jug as it was rather full. The soup offered the perfect destination. As I said, you can pretty much play around with the ingredients. Is fun!

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup I did something else with the soup too that night. I was making breaded chicken fillets for the kids. Instead of doing the normal egg, flour and breadcrumbs coating assembly line, I sneaked some soup into a bowl. Dunked the Italian seasoning marinated breast fillets first into soup, then into wholewheat home made breadcrumbs, and shallow fried the fillets.

Mushroom and Onion Scape Soup While the son enjoyed his in burgers, the ‘constantly on a diet’ daughter ate crumb fried fillets with char grilled broccoli. The son came back to say these were the best tasting burgers ever! “Really nice Mama!” Must have been the soup!! Soup has been the call this  winter! Loads of it.

Handi cookingSo what’s your favourite comfort or soul food in winter? Do you make soup from scratch? I did an amazing Smokey Roasted Tomato Soup {pictured above} for a client I am developing recipes for. Heard the other day that a friend was making pumpkin and peanut butter soup. I was completely intrigued. I guess it’s time to explore more soups as winter is still here.

Handi cookingAnd before I scoot, it’s time to announce the winner {s} of the Nirlep giveaway on my blog. A 1000 apologies for the delay, but I was travelling a little bit, and now the elder teen has her board exams. Between driving her up and down, and feeding her ‘comfort food’ on demand 24 X 7, there seems to be little time to blog!

Handi cooking Food however is always cooked in the PAB household, so the handi has been put to good use. I am really happy to have received it for review because I didn’t know what I was missing! The Nirlep handi is very very versatile indeed. From cooking pasta until al dente to making pasta and pizza sauces, to numerous rounds of steamed bathua leaves or chenopodium{or lamb’s quarter}of bathua ka raita, to delicious stir fried chicken mince, then meatballs too, I have seriously used it a lot!

Nirlep Anodized Cookware

I am thrilled to offer one as a giveaway that was announced when I reviewed the utensil.  The winner of the Ebony Handi is Swapna Mickey. Since we had a load on entries, Nirlep offered to send Nirlep Cookware to two more participants. They are Reeta Skeeter and Manjeet Kaur. Congratulations ladies and thank you so much for joining the giveaway {and for waiting so patiently}. Will mail you shortly.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto … In season with bell peppers

“… the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds.” 
Michael Pollan

Roasted bell pepper pesto Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto is what my roasted bell peppers were headed for! It’s strange how winter in the subcontinent is different from winter in the west. Come winter and the local bazaars are flooded with the best of fresh produce. It’s the time of the year when colours paint the vegetable shops in brilliant hues. It’s time for bell peppers, celery, broccoli, strawberries, cape gooseberries, mustard greens, fenugreek, garlic greens, beets and beet greens, juicy tomatoes ... and of course truckloads of cauliflower!

herbs veggies fruitsThis year we’ve had a deluge of local bell peppers. At a dollar and a half a kilo, these beauties are a steal. I toss bell peppers into just about everything. The kids thankfully love them in every form, the dog is a willing accomplice too. Any obliging little bits that jump off the chopping board head straight into Coco’s greedy little mouth!

Roasted bell peppersEach time I bake something, I throw in a few peppers  to roast alongside. I love char grilling them; sometimes use the Air Fryer when the oven isn’t on! Roasted bell peppers work well in tossed into pastas, in salads, in sandwiches, on bruschetta, also in pasta sauces.

Roasted bell pepper pesto Which brings me to the pesto. It’s absolutely brilliant and so adaptable! Play around with the ingredients as you like. Use the pesto in a pasta sauce, as a sandwich spread, as a dip, thin it out as a salad dressing, add it to a chicken bake, in quesadillas, with kebabs, stuff it into roast potatoes, even add it to soup …. it never fails to please!

Roasted bell pepper pesto I LOVE it paired with peppery arugula which is growing with wild abandon in my very neglected patch. Add a little feta, maybe caramelised onions, some smoked chicken ham to please the kids …. and I’m in business! I love a good green pesto too, and you can well imagine where my next bunch of arugula is headed! What is your most fun way to use pesto? And which pesto do you love the most?

Nirlep Anodized CookwarePlease don’t forget to enter the ‘Nirlep Handi giveaway‘ if you have an Indian address. I’ve been cooking up a storm in mine. You could soon be doing the same very soon! The giveaway ends tomorrow!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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