Wednesday, December 21, 2011


These are the most addictive cookies I have ever eaten.They are great with a cup of milk or a hot cup of ginger tea. I prefer crisp ginger biscuits to the soft chewy version. These cookies remind me of the cookies I used to eat in Bangalore. My cousin was a huge fan of ginger cookies and would munch them with her endless cups of tea.

I have made a couple of batches of these cookies this season. In the first one I used vegetaCheck Spellingble oil and then King Arthur website had a recipe for gingersnaps with shortening so I gave that a shot. The recipe here is the one from King Arthur and I am very pleased with them.

Preheat your oven at 375 F


1 cup sugar
2 and 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 and 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp powdered allspice
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt

powdered sugar coating

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice

In a mixing bowl add the vegetable shortening, molasses, egg and sugar. Mix until it is incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a separate bowl. Mix together and add the dry ingredients to the shortening, molasses mixture. Mix thoroughly to form a stiff

Measure out portions with a melon baller or a measuring teaspoon. This will result in more uniform sizes. Roll each portion to form a ball.

Mix the ingredients for the powdered sugar coating in a shallow bowl. Roll the balls in this mixture and place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Place these balls about an inch apart.

Bake in the oven for 11 to 13 minutes.

Take out and cool for crispy, delicious cookies.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rye and Whole Wheat Bread

I love to bake bread and am particularly proud of this bread since it is such a healthy and tasty bread. Though it is not a 100% whole wheat bread I am slowly trying to take it in that direction by reducing the amount of bread flour I add. And because it has so much whole grain in it, a slice or two of this bread in the morning keeps me going for a long time.


1 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour ( I use white whole wheat from King Arthur)
3/4 cup bread flour (I used King Arthur)
2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tbsp light molasses
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water ( I find it best to add 1/4 cup and then add as much of the water as I can while I knead without making the dough too sticky)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of caraway seeds ( I did not have caraway seeds on hand and so skipped this)

Take 1/2 boiling water and add the honey, molasses and butter to it. Mix and let the butter melt. Now set aside and let the mixture come to lukewarm temperature.

Take 1/4 cup warm water in a separate container add the yeast to it. Mix and set aside. After a few minutes the water and yeast mixture should be a little frothy. Add this water and yeast mixture to the honey and molasses mixture and stir to combine.

Mix the whole wheat, bread flour, caraway seeds and salt in a container and add the liquids to the dry mixture. Stir to combine. After a wet mixture forms add the rye flour and start kneading. I spent about 15 minutes kneading this bread while slowly adding more water ( the other 1/4 cup). If the dough is too sticky add more bread flour but just a little at a time.

I am still experimenting with my kneading technique so it is still work in progress. But I did a simple stretch and fold for this bread and it seemed to work fine. However, I will probably get better results with some experimentation and research. But not to complicate it too much, knead till you get a smooth ball and then put the dough in a well oiled container , cover and let rise in a warm kitchen for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours till it doubles. Since this is a rather dense bread it will takes its own sweet time to rise.

After the rise punch the dough down, knead for a minute and put into an oiled loaf pan. Cover and let it rise again for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Set the oven at 375 F and bake for 30 minutes. If you think the top is browning too much for you cover the bread with foil and bake.

This taste delicious with butter or peanut butter and marmalade.

Corn and Fire Roasted Poblano Soup

This soup was a revelation. It was just one of those things that I put together after googling what I had in my fridge. This is a simple soup and a little different from the other corn soups out there. But it packs a punch.


1 onion finely diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 pack frozen corn kernels (use fresh if you can)
4 cups milk
3 poblano peppers ( 2 if you like it milder)
32 oz vegetable broth broth
1 tbs butter ( just enough to cook the onions)
salt and pepper to taste

Roast the poblano peppers over a flame. When they are blackened completely put them in an air tight container and close the lid. The steam from the poblano peppers helps loosen the charred skin from the pepper. After 15 minutes or so open the containers and remove the charred parts from the poblano peppers. Chop the peppers into a fine dice.

Defrost the corn kernels and put them into a blender along with the milk. Blend thoroughly

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion. Stir and cook till they start becoming translucent and then add the garlic. Cook this for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the corn and milk mixture to this pot along with the broth. Add the chopped poblano peppers. Cook this mixture on a medium flame for about 30 or more minutes till you the corn is cooked and you get a thicker creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Since we use a lot of broth in this soup it is best to add the salt in the end so we can control the total amount of salt in the soup.

This soup definitely taste better on the second day. The poblano peppers need some time to really permeate through the soup. But when they do this is a very satisfying and very rich tasting soup. Perfect for this chilly weather we have been having.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Orange Gin and Tonic

A couple of months ago a bushel of oranges and a large bottle of cheap gin happened in my kitchen at the same time. Alright so it wasn't a bushel more like half a dozen but it is such a cool word. And I was still in my infuse stage. So the bottle gin went into a jar with 5 oranges cut into 8s. It remained there for a week and then the gin was filtered into a air tight jar.

Fast forward to this 8:30 p.m Saturday and husband was in kitchen with a craving for cocktails. And 30 minutes later I was sitting down with Orange gin and tonic and some fresh bruschetta. The bruschetta was made with some fresh pesto from the last of our basil plant and some home made rosemary bread. The drink was just one past orange infused gin with two parts tonic and was perfect.


1 part Orange infused gin
2 parts tonic water

Add to glass. Chuck some ice in, stir and enjoy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegetarian Soondubu Jjigae

Korean food is a relatively recent find for me and from the very beginning it has been like love. Korean food like Indian food is served piping hot especially the jjigae. Soondubu Jjigae named after the special soft tofu that is used in this soup is a very popular Korean dish. However it is not a very vegetarian friendly dish. In the sense that even in the very diverse Korean street in NYC the vegetarian soondubu jjigae was nothing like the fiery cauldron that the regular jjigae.

This altered vegetarian version however is a big improvement and is delicious.


6 to 10 dried shitake mushrooms
2 smallish zucchinis
half a onion
2 to 3 cloves garlic
a packet of soon tofu
3 tbsp Korean chili powder
2 large chili pepper ( these are not the very spicy variety of pepper. For more about the chili peppers refer here.)
1 packet of beach mushrooms
1 tbsp mushroom sauce
1 green onion
salt to taste

The process starts with making stalk. Take 5 cups of water , add the dried shitake mushrooms, onion and garlic. Just peel the onion and garlic and add them to the water so it is easy to fish them out later. You could also add dried kelp. I avoid kelp since my husband is not a big fan of the flavor. Boil the mixture to make stalk. Filter the water and take out and reserve the dried shitake mushrooms.

In a large sauce pot, add 1 tsp oil. To this add the red chili powder. Slice the now boiled shitake mushrooms that you had reserved from the stalk making and add it to the pot. Let cook for a minute and then add the squash and the stalk. Add salt and mushroom sauce. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes. You can also use any other vegetables that you may want. Add the beach mushrooms and the soon tofu. Let boil for 5 more minutes. Add sliced green chilies, green onion. Crack two eggs and add them a few minutes before serving and allow the egg to cook in the mixture. The eggs are optional and the jjigae taste very good without the eggs also.

Another optional thing is a little bit of sesame oil just before you turn off the flame.

Eat piping hot with rice and banchan.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Green Tomato Thokku

Irene came and left us relatively unscathed. While I am very grateful that a storm that inflicted so much damage on so many people was so kind to us I was a little upset with the damages to my small patio garden. All the moving around of the large tomato, eggplant and pepper plants let to many broken branches and a bunch of produce that is too small, too green, too raw.

So long story short I found myself with quite a few green tomatoes. I was not sure how to use these. I tried adding them in stir fries, soups etc but it was not working for me. Green tomatoes have a nice tart flavour that is not disguised in stir fries.

Yesterday I had a brainwave about how I would like to use these tomatoes. What I was doing wrong was trying to mask the tartness of the green tomatoes. What I should do instead is celebrate them. So I made a green tomato thokku. This is a Indian spicy chutney that is eaten with rice and curd and is normally made with raw mangoes. And green tomatoes was the perfect substitute. They were firm enough to stand up to grating. The thokku was tart and very flavourful.


4 large green tomatoes
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp til oil
a couple of pinches of asfoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
3 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste since this quantity will vary drastically based on chili powder used and your own preferences)

Grate the green tomatoes. Heat 2 tbsp til oil in pan. When oil is hot add the mustard seeds and watch them splutter. Add the asfoetida and turmeric. Add the grated green tomatoes. Add salt and let the green tomatoes cook on a low flame. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the oil forms a nice coating over the green tomatoes. Add the chili powder. Taste, adjust seasoning (chili powder and salt) and cook for a few more minutes.
Cook and store in a bottle in the refrigerator. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is one my favourite cakes and since it has been some time since I baked cakes I decided to stick with a basic, popular recipe found here. It is not the moistest cake but it is a relatively healthy cake that I do not feel too guilty about putting away in slightly larger than usual quantities.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar ( I could not find brown sugar so I used white sugar instead. In the past I have used brown sugar and there is a definite difference in taste and if I had it I would have used brown sugar)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrot
1 1/2 tbsp molasses
2 eggs
Juice from 1 orange
zest from 1 orange
handful of raisins
handful of chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the carrot, eggs, molasses, juice, zest, vanilla essence and oil to the mixture. Mix until the mixture is uniform. Add the raisins and walnuts and stir until they are distributed throughout the mixture. Preheat the oven at 350 F. Grease a 9 inch cake pan and pour the batter into it. Spread if necessary and make sure the mixture is level. Bake in oven for 1 hr and 10 minutes till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean.

I have been making a host of "relatively healthy" desserts since I find myself eating more and more sweets.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Zucchini Fritters

It is squash season. In addition to the zucchini that my single zucchini plant puts out husband also brought home some giant zucchinis from work that one of colleagues grows in his backyard. And so I have made a list of zucchini recipes I need to try. One of the top things on my list was zucchini fritters.

One of my fondest childhood memories are my mothers deep fried cutlets. Some weekends we would wake up from our naps to the sound of these potato cutlets stuffed with peas, onion and carrots sizzling in oil. My mother would form oval cutlets dip them in bread crumbs and deep fry them until they were just past golden brown. We had far more of these than was good for us.

So this weekend armed with a fridge full of zucchini and a slower metabolism I found this recipe for skinny zucchini fritters.

My version left out the Parmesan and a lot of the spices since I wanted to keep the flavors simple.

Recipe for Zucchini Fritters

1 very large zucchini grated.
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried basil
salt to taste
1tsp paprika ( depending on how spicy your paprika is add to taste)
2 tbsp egg white

Grate the zucchini with the peel on. Collect in a paper towel and squeeze to remove all the excess water. Place this grated zucchini in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix and get ready to make fritters.

Shape into fritters.

Shallow fry in a pan on both side. I used my cast iron skillet for this and crust on these was perfect.

Eat with favorite dipping sauce. Lie back with a full stomach and take a nap.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Basil Vodka

I love basil. It is my favorite herb by a stretch. It is a party in my mouth just by itself.

I like to water my plants in the morning when the weather is mild and the air is still kind of crisp. Plants esp herbs let out a pocket of scent as you water them and the fresh air of the morning is the perfect backdrop. Basil followed by rosemary are the loveliest scents in my garden. I am a relatively new gardener and the first time this happened while I was watering my plants it made me smile for an hour.

But I digress. So I have two pots of sweet basil, one pot of Thai basil, a couple of assorted window boxes of lime basil and Genovese basil. So what do you do when you have tons of basil and a taste for languid, chatty evenings with the husband with a glass in hand.

Basil Vodka!!!

This bottle of vodka made the most lovely martini I have ever had.

Recipe for Basil Vodka

1 cup of packed sweet basil leaves ( Any other type of basil will also work and lend its specific flavour to the vodka. Its basil, you can't go wrong)
a small bottle of vodka

I used a glass container and placed the basil leaves at the bottom. Pour the vodka over it and cover. Keep this container in a place with cool spot with low light. After 24 hours filter and pour the vodka back into the bottle. Keep this bottle away for a week or more away from direct sunlight as the flavors develop.

Enjoy basil vodka. Drink responsibly and do not drink and drive. :) In fact this is a good reason to stay home cos a martini with this vodka will beat any martini at the local bar.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

I made this more than a couple of weeks ago and have only now found the time/inclination to put this up. These rolls taste like a warm summer day in an orchard - if that taste could be in a roll.

I saw a recipe for summer rolls in one of my favourite blogs and finally got around to making it.


1 cup of fresh basil
1 cup of fresh mint
1 inch piece of ginger cut into thin juliennes
2 small carrots cut into juliennes
one small head of lettuce
2 oz of thin rice vermicelli ( soaked in hot water according to package instructions)
about 10 sprigs of cilantro/coriander leaves
rice paper wraps (available in any Asian store)

Prepare all the ingredients and put them out in a plate. Warm some water and pour it into a shallow pan where you can dip your rice paper wraps. Dip the wrap, make sure all of it is under water for a few seconds and place on a clean dry surface. Add a few lettuce leaves that have been roughly torn into large chunks. Add a few basil leaves, a few mint leaves, some carrot, a spring of coriander, some ginger. Place all of these in one end of the wrap. Add a little cooked vermicelli. Make a roll by tucking the sides under the vegetables and make a wrap. Veggie belly has lovely pictures illustrating how to do this.

And that's it. I am going to make them all the time. To store , make ahead,put on a plate, cover with a damp towelette, wrap with plastic and cool in fridge.

Serve with your choice of dipping sauces.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

It is tomato season everywhere. In my patio, in the farmers market, in the blog world. Everywhere I look I see tomatoes. So what do you do when you find two pints of cherry tomatoes in the local farmers market for the unbelievable price of a dollar? Having seen this post by the smitten kitchen I had to follow suit.

To answer my earlier question -

Slice them up. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, pepper and basil.

Roast them slowly in a low heat oven. 250 F for two hours is what I did. I might actually stop a little earlier next time.

And bottle them with some olive oil and be prepared to used these little packets of flavour in everything.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baingan Bharta

Eggplant is one my favourite vegetables, which is ironic since I spent most of my childhood hiding the eggplant on my plate under cups. Every cuisine I can think of has one kick ass eggplant dish. Indian cuisine has many delicious recipes using eggplant-
- bagara baingan
- yennai kathrikai
- baigan bhartha
- dahi baingan
to name a few popular indian dishes made from this versatile vegetable.

Today I made baingan bhartha. It is a simple dish which showcases the flavour of this eggplant perfectly.


2 large eggplants
2 small onions (chopped fine)
2 roma size tomato (chopped fine) - I used a about 2/3 of a can of drained diced tomatoes since I was out of fresh tomatoes
4 to 5 small green chillies (chopped fine)
ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
5 cloves garlic chopped fine
cumin seeds - 1tsp
coriander powder 1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

The eggplant is cooked over a flame until the skin is burnt. This gives the flesh of the eggplant a smokey flavour that is just incredible. This dish can also be made by broiling the eggplants in an oven. When I did not have a flame to work with ( in my previous life in an apartment that is how I made my bhartha). But it is not the same.

After burning the skin all over the eggplant will be all mushy. Transfer this to a container or bag and seal it. I used a glass dish that has a tight cover. Leave it alone for 15 minutes or so. The moisture and steam in a closed container helps to loosen the skin of the eggplant. Peel the skin off and cut the eggplant into chunks. Then take a fork and mash the mixture. If some portions feel a little uncooked you could stick it in the microwave for a while.

Today my eggplant was perfectly done and smelt unbelievably good.

In a hot pan add a little oil and add the cumin seeds. As the begin to brown add the turmeric and the chopped onion, garlic and green chillies. Cook this until the onion is translucent.

Add the tomatoes and stir. Cook this mixture for another 4 to 5 minutes on a medium flame so the tomato gets cooked and incorporated with the rest.

Add the eggplant pulp and mix and mash with a flat ladle. Add the coriander powder. Cook this mixture until everything is incorporated and the mixture begins to brown slightly.

The bhartha is done. Top with finely chopped coriander.

I ate my bhartha with plain dal and rice.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Garden Update

I saw my first flower today so I thought I would put up a few pictures as an update. I have so many vegetables and as a result a lot of greens in my garden. So I am very excited about having a few flowers there to liven things up.

First things first, my first sunflower!!!

I also picked a few squash flowers which have been the only colour in my garden so far. (And when I say garden I of course mean my little patio full of pots.)

My tomatoes also seem to be making good progress

I have two tomato plants this year. I am hoping for at least a few harvests.
Also looking forward to some action in my eggplant and pepper plants.(Fingers crossed).

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spanish Rice

When I came back from my two week vacation and opened the fridge, I was blown away. In place of a fridge overflowing with vegetables, fruits, breads, leftovers and nearly empty jars of pickles, jams, peanut butter, spice pastes etc etc, I was looking at a newly cleaned spartan fridge with just the basics stocked neatly in the right compartments.

The reason??? My husband had decided to cook through all the produce that I had left behind in stead of buying more food. He had made simple meals with what was in the fridge and just that. No rushing out to just buy parsley or right type of cucumber. He come home, opened the fridge looked at what was there and planned his meal accordingly. The simplicity of that blew me away. And I should add that my husband is NOT an indifferent eater. As much as I envy those who do not spend hours obsessing about food, I could not have easily adjusted to being married somebody like that.

And so I decided that is what I will do too.I will just plan my meals according to what my pantry has. No rushing out to buy last minute ingredients. If I really want to make a certain dish I will make space for it when I shop next and not go shopping now. I am hoping this will reduce waste, ensure we eat fresh and will also give me a reason to cook with what I have and find ways to make it taste good for me.

All that said I had picked up a bunch of poblano peppers, some bell peppers last time I was in the store. So I decided on a simple Mexican vegetarian meal . Stuffed poblano peppers, a vegetarian fajita with bell peppers and mushrooms, spanish rice and beans.

I was very happy with all the dishes but what I really loved was how my spanish rice turned out. So that is what I am going to share here.

Spanish Rice (I altered this recipe to suit what I had)

1 cup rice
1 small onion cut fine
2 cloves garlic minced fine
1/2 green bell pepper cut fine
4 small green chillies
1/2 tsp chilli powder ( this depends a lot on how spicy your chilli powder is and how you like your rice. So adjust to taste)
1 tsp sugar ( again this depends on what tomatoes you use)
2 tomatoes ( I used Roma)
1 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste
Olive oil to cook it all.

Add olive oil to pan and heat on a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook. After a minute add bell pepper and mix. Cook this mixture for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Wash the rice, drain and add the rise to the pan. Stir to mix so that all your rice is coated with the oil. Cook this mixture for around 5 minutes until your rice starts turning slightly brown

While the rice is cooking, put the two tomatoes and the green chillies in a food processor and pulse until you get a chunky smoothie like mixture. Add this mixture in parts to the rise. Add the first part and then mix to incorporate. While the rice is absorbing the tomato add salt , sugar cumin powder. Do not add the chilli powder yet. Wait till you have an idea of how spicy the green chillies will make your rice before adding the chilli powder.

Add the rest and stir to incorporate. After the rice has absorbed all the liquid from the tomatoes start adding broth or water. Add liquid is small parts about 1/2 to 3/4 cup and wait till the liquid is absorbed before adding more. At this point you can also add the chilli powder after a tasting.

When the rice is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes and fluff with a fork. I have always made spanish rice with canned tomatoes (most recipes online also ask for canned tomatoes), but I have never been this happy with the results. Which is why in place of posting the stuffed poblanos I decided to write about my star for the evening - the humble Spanish Rice.

Edited to Add

I wanted to add pictures of the full spread...


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegetarian Bibim Bap

I have a rather big soft spot for Asian cooking. I was over the moon when an Asian grocery store opened in the neighborhood. To my husband's amusement and then frustration I would walk up and down the aisles ogling the condiments, pickles and vegetables.

Being a vegetarian it is rather hard to explore other cuisines that is of course if you live outside the new jersey, new york area. I discovered Bibim Bap for the first time in the Korean street in NYC. I was instantly in love. And after many months of thinking that I want to make this at home I finally got around to it last Friday.

My Bimbim Bap had mushrooms (white mushrooms and dried Shitake), soy bean sprouts, spinach, Bok Choy served with rice and a fried egg on top. You could use any mix of vegetables for Bibim Bap. I also picked up a packet of Gojuchang from the Asian store.

Soy Bean Sprouts ( recipe taken from here)

Wash soy bean sprouts thoroughly. Add the bean sprouts , a cup and half of water, a little salt to a pot. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes drain the sprouts, and add a little soy sauce, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds and set aside. Check in between to make sure that there is enough water.

Spinach (recipe taken from here)

Wash spinach thoroughly. Add to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain, squeeze gently to remove a little of the excess water. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds and set apart.

Ginger garlic Bok Choy ( recipe taken from here)

3 to 4 heads of Bok Choy chopped to large bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic grated fine
1 tsp finely grated ginger
soy sauce to taste
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar

In a hot pan add 1/2 cup water and add the ginger and garlic. Cook while stirring for 3 minutes. Throw in the Bok Choy. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the cover and drain water in case there is too much water. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds and stir to coat and set aside.

Mushrooms (recipe take from here)

You can use dried or fresh mushrooms. If using dried mushrooms first rehydrate them in boiling water. Slice the mushrooms thinly. Heat some vegetable oil in pan. Add the mushrooms and saute. In case of fresh mushrooms cook them till they stop oozing water. Cook on a medium flame and make sure you don't burn the mushrooms. Add a little sugar and soy sauce to the mushrooms and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Shitake Mushroom

Button Mushrooms


Julienne carrots. Add to pan with a tiny amount of oil and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Assemble the Bibim Bap in a plate. Traditionally Bibim Bap is served in a Dolsot which is just a heated dish where the food continues to cook just a little bit. I did not have these so I served the dish on plates. Put rice down and surround with all the vegetables.

Add a fried egg of top and serve with soy sauce, Gojuchang and sesame oil . Enjoy.

The joy of this dish is you can adjust it to taste and add any vegetables you want. Next time I also want to add Kosari which was delicious at the restaurant.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Tomato Basil Bread

I wanted a perfect bread for a grilled cheese. What is better than a tomato basil bread.
I tried out this recipe since it called for diced tomatoes in place of paste or juice.

3 - 4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup basil leaves
2 tsp salt
2 -3 tbsp sugar (based on your taste)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tsp of yeast ( around one packet )

Cut the basil into ribbons. For ease stack up the leaves and use scissors to cut the strips.

Mix the water and one tsp of water and warm in microwave for 15 seconds. Add the yeast and mix. Set aside for 5 - 6 minutes and watch for the yeast to get all bubbly.

Mix 3 cups flour, salt, diced tomato, rest of the sugar. Add the oil and the yeast to the mixture. Start kneading the flour while adding the rest of the flour gradually. Add the basil to the mixture and continue to knead. Do not add more flour then is necessary to get a smooth dough. If the dough is too unmanageable, one thing that is very handy is to cover the dough and step away for 10 minutes.

Set the dough aside in a warm place and let it rise till it doubles (about an hour). Punch the dough down. Shape it into two rounds. Place on an oiled cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let it rise for another 45 minutes.

I baked these at a 350 F oven for 25 minutes. I added a boiling pan of water in the bottom. Next time I think I will form it into a single loaf and bake at 450 F for about 25 minutes. This was a soft bread which is nice for cheese sandwiches but next time I am going to aim for some crust.

The tomato flavour in the bread was lovely but the basil was not where where I wanted it. Maybe the tomato was too powerful. Next time I will try with more basil and less tomato.

I will leave you with a picture of my breakfast with two slices of tomato toast. Egg white cheese omelet, steamed vegetables and toast. It was just too early in the day for a grilled cheese.

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