As someone who loves a good meal, cooking one, came to me as a natural passion. I belong to a family where meal times consisted of not just food, but also noisy conversation centered around the events of the day and discussing the menu for the next. (ah yes, we are a greedy lot! )

For the most part of my life so far, my contribution in the kitchen was assisting mom and my duties were limited, to chopping veggies and laying the table. Then along came the great Indian wedding, and I was suddenly the queen of my very own kingdom. My curiosity about this magical world, coupled with an enthusiastic sous-chef (my husband, Vineet), led me to take on the challenge of preparing meals on a daily basis, and not succumbing to the convenience of hiring a cook.

This blog is a product of my experiments with food (not all are life threatening :D) for my fellow culinary enthusiasts - especially the newly weds and hungry bachelors and is dedicated to the women who've inspired me in the kitchen;
Aji (s),Ma and Nigella Lawson.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Home made Bread & French Style Roast Lamb!

Now, I'm not exactly the kind of person who follows a given recipe religiously, but when it comes to baking, I am careful. Its always a good idea to go over the details of a recipe a couple of times, to accustom oneself with the process and not miss out a key ingredient.
My fascination with food, has resulted in my being hooked to Food Network Asia, a channel that has been sent from the gods above for people like me. A show on the history & technique of bread making, encouraged me give it a shot! I also have a book on French family cooking , bought at a book sale in Gurgaon, that I was yet to use.

So, armed with the books and the determination, we spent the better part of our afternoon in baking some bread to go with the French style Roast lamb for dinner, as a treat for Vineet, who has been working very hard these past few weeks! I have done my best in trying to simplify the explanation and keep it as concise as possible... Its my attempt to encourage you to try this at home! :) Bon appetit! 

(Pain Ordinaire, makes 1, 16" long loaf)

250g Whole wheat flour
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Dried yeast (rehydrated with 50ml water) 
125 ml Water

Kitchen essentials:
Glass bowl
Wooden Spoon
Oven @ 200 deg. C
Clean hands!

The Process: 
Making one loaf took me about 3-1/2 hours - of which the actual work was just 20-25 minutes. The main chunk of time is spent in letting the dough rise - So don't let the time frame worry you :)

01. Dissolve the yeast in 50ml of water and let it rest till it foams and rises (about 5-7 mins).

02. Put the flour & salt into a bowl and make a 'well' in the centre. Pour the frothy yeast into the well and gently mix a little of the flour into it till it makes a soft paste. Leave to rest for about 15 mins. The frothy mixture will rise.

03. Slowly, start pouring in about 100 ml of the water, and stir gently to form into a soft-sticky dough.

04. Gently mix the flour into a dough- at this point it will start pulling away from the surface of the bowl and become very sticky.

05. Knead the dough gently on a floured surface and keep turning it as you go, to ensure that you apply even pressure throughout and mix the yeast evenly throughout the dough.

06. Knead for about 10 mins, till the dough is soft and silky to touch.

 07. Transfer the kneaded dough into a clean glass bowl (large) and leave it to rise and double in size for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If your kitchen is warm like mine, the dough will rise in about 1 hr 15 mins. Cover it with a cotton towel/napkin.
08. The dough will double in size and be full of air. Gently deflate the risen dough with a clean fist, and let it rest for another 5-10 minutes. (This process is called 'Knocking')

 09. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and flatten it into a thick circular shape. Fold one half of the circle towards the centre and then the other, till it looks like shown in the picture. Seal the joint line with a little pressure using your fingers.
10. Cover with a napkin and let it rise to double its size-for about 30-40 mins.
 11. Transfer the shaped & risen dough upside down onto a floured baking tray. The bread will rise a little during baking as well, so ensure your tray is large enough

12. Use a sharp knife and score diagonal lines on the surface
12. Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 220 deg C, or till the crust is golden brown in colour.

13. To check if it is completely baked, pick up the loaf and tap the underside with your knuckles - it should sound 'hollow'.

14. Cut 1/2" thick slices and
eat Greedily!

(Feeds 2 relatively hungry tummies)

450g Boneless leg/shoulder of lamb
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
Salt + Pepper (for seasoning)
1/4 cup White Wine 
5-6 nos baby Potatoes (peeled)
5-6 nos baby Onions (peeled)

For stuffing:
2 tbsp Butter (saltless)
1 medium Onion - chopped
1 tbsp chopped garlic                                                                          
1/4 cup long grained rice ( I used Basmati                             
1 bunch baby Spinach leaves                                                                 
1 pkt Button Mushrooms ( 4-5 thickly sliced, leave the rest whole)                                                 
2 tbsp concentrated chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme + 1/2 tsp dried basil 

Kitchen equipment:
Oven preheated to 220 deg C | Wooden Skewers | Saucepans | Mallet / rolling pin | Baking tray | Aluminum foil

01. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C.

02. Flatten the lamb meat using a mallet or rolling pin till its about 1/2" thick. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and set aside.
03. Heat the butter in a Saucepan till it starts frothing. Saute the chopped onions and garlic till the onions appear slightly translucent.

04. Add the rice and chicken stock along with 1/2 cup of water. Season with the thyme and basil and simmer on a gentle flame till the rice is tender and almost cooked. Cover with a lid. Set aside.
05. Saute the sliced mushrooms, baby potatoes & baby onions separately.Brown well. Set aside. (ensure you saute the mushrooms separately as they release water and will make the potatoes and onions soggy)

06. Saute the baby spinach leaves till they're wilted.Get rid of any extra liquid that might be released during cooking and ensure that the leaves are moist but not drippy.

07. Lay the lamb seasoned lamb meat flat on your the work surface. Lay the layer of sauteed spinach, followed by the rice and lastly with the sauteed mushrooms. Fold the meat around the stuffing and secure the shape with wooden/metal skewers.

08. Arrange in a baking tray lined with aluminum foil (to collect the juices). Arrange the sauteed baby potatoes and onions and remaining whole button mushrooms around the lamb.

09. Roast in a preheated oven @ 220 deg C for 45-60 mins, depending on how 'well done' you'd prefer the meat to be.

10. Carve and serve with freshly grilled garlic bread. 
(For garlic butter, mix 1 crushed garlic clove+ 2 tbsp soft salted butter+pinch of salt)

11. Enjoy with a glass of chilled wine of your choice. 

Feel free to add more sauteed veggies to the baking pan along with the baby onions&potatoes... Capsicum, tomatoes (cut in half), sweet potatoes (cut into chunks) should work really well!

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