Potato Skins

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My third recipe for this theme of USA cuisine was supposed to be this awesome s’mores mug cake. The only mistake I did was to wait to make it till the last minute because, mug cake. How difficult can it be? Mix ingredients and microwave for a minute, duh! But then I tried to be smart and made some changes to the ingredients and then it crashed badly, like really badly. Then I figured I would stick to the recipe but found I was out of some ingredients. Yeah, mug cake can actually cause so much grief. Anyway I fell back on potatoes which is the ultimate saviour as also very American. The added benefit is that the daughter loves it and I figured a cool way to sneak in veggies inside all that cheese. So not everything ended badly!

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The original dish is potatoes, bacon and cheese. But I needed a vegetarian version of it and so I replaced the bacon with some vegetables and also some cheese with butter and landed with a super easy evening snack.

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Potatoes 4

Garlic butter 2 tbsp

Onion, small 1/2

Tomato, small 1/2

Mozzarella, grated 4-5 tbsp

Salt

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 220C
  • Cut the potatoes vertically in half and scoop out the flesh as much as you can leaving just the skin and little flesh
  • Melt the garlic butter and apply it on both sides of the halves and scooped potatoes
  • Place it on a baking tray skin side down and bake for 10 minutes
  • Turn the potatoes over and bake for another 10 minutes
  • Finely chop the onion. Deseed and finely chop the tomato
  • Mix the two with salt and pepper or any other seasoning
  • Take out the potatoes and turn them over
  • Fill each half potato with the onion tomato mixture
  • Top it with grated mozzarella cheese
  • Bake for 2-3 minutes or till the cheese melts
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. You can use plain butter or any other flavoured butter instead of the garlic butter
  2. The filling can be any vegetable of your choice like carrots, peas, corn, mushroom, etc. In that case you have either sauté it before adding it to the potatoes or bake it for 10 minutes with the potatoes but add the cheese in the final 2 minutes.

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Cuisine of USA.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

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Khachapuri

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At first glance, the name Khachapuri does sound like a chaat available at Chowpatty beach in Bombay, somewhere between sookha puri and pani puri. But probe further and you discover that it is a traditional Georgian bread filled with cheese. In fact, it is the national dish of Georgia. It is usually shaped like a boat and filled with cheese, egg and sometimes few other ingredients. The crust is ripped off and used to dip in the cheese for a mouthful of bliss. Sulguni is the most commonly used cheese in Georgia but it is replaced with mozzarella and other cheese in other countries. Since it is a staple food in Georgia, the price of making the khachapuri is used a measure of inflation, called the Khachapuri Index. I am unable to think of any reason for why I should not migrate to this European country. Sigh!

I made a few changes to this dish because the husband and daughter are not big fans of cheese plus they need a spicy version of every dish. So I replaced part of the cheese with some fresh paneer / cottage cheese. Then I crumbled it and mixed some chilly powder, mixed herbs and salt into it. So, for the first time the husband asked for seconds and that is when I realized how much happier I was when he would not and I had all the delicious bread to myself.

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Country – Georgia

Recipe adapted from here

Makes 2 large breads to serve 3-4 people

WHAT WE NEED

For the dough

All purpose flour                            1 3/4 cups

Sugar                                                 1 1/2 tsp

Salt                                                     1/2 tsp

Instant yeast                                    1/2 tsp

Lukewarm milk                              1/2 cup

Lukewarm water                           1/4 cup

Oil                                                     1 1/2 tsp

For the filling

Mozzarella, grated                          1 cup

Fresh cottage cheese                      1 cup

Mixed herbs                                     1-2 tsp

Red chilly powder                           1/2 tsp

Coriander leaves                             5-6

Eggs (optional) (see notes)            2

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large bow;
  • Add warm milk and water and knead till the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by hand
  • Add oil and knead again till the oil is absorbed, about 1-2 minutes by hand
  • Set aside the dough in a greased bowl and cover it till it doubles in volume, around an hour
  • Punch down the dough and press it a few times and set it aside for another 30 minutes
  • Crumble the cottage cheese and add the chilly powder, mixed herbs and some salt and mix well
  • Preheat the oven to 230C for 20 minutes
  • Take the dough and divide into 2 halves and roll out the first half into a 9″ circle
  • Spread the paneer mixture on the circle leaving an inch gap from the edges
  • Roll the circle from two opposite sides three times leaving a large gap in the middle
  • Pinch together the edges and shape like an ‘S’ to make it look like a boat
  • Fill the open section with paneer mixture and top it with mozzarella cheese and few finely chopped corainder leaves
  • Repeat the same procedure with the other half of the dough

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  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it well with oil / butter
  • Transfer the two breads on the baking sheet
  • Bake for 15 minutes or till the top of the dough is nicely brown
  • If you are adding eggs, take out the bread from the oven and make a small hole in the cheese at the centre of the bread
  • Break open an egg at the hole and bake for another 5-6 minutes till the egg whites are set but the yolk is a bit runny
  • Take out and let it cool slightly
  • Using a fork, scramble the egg into the cheese and serve warm
  • Enjoy!

 

NOTES

  1. It is not mandatory to add eggs and can be skipped. If so then bake for 18 minutes instead of 15 minutes or till the top of the dough is golden brown. When I baked one bread without the egg, it seemed a little dry while eating. So, I suggest you mix 1-2 tsp of milk with the paneer when you add salt and spices. It should reduce the dryness.
  2. Instead of paneer, you can add feta cheese, farmer’s cheese, etc. I plan to add some veggies next time like mushroom, boiled corn, cherry tomatoes, etc to make it a little healthy
  3.  It is better to use freshly made paneer / cottage cheese. The store bought ones are usually dry and may not be the best option for this dish but maybe you can adjust the milk a little more and make do. I used paneer made from 1 litre milk and it was almost used up in this dish
  4. On hindsight, I thought it would be better to make 3 portions instead of 2 with the same dough which would result in a smaller size, more filling and less dough per person.

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter ‘K’.

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 75

Insalata Caprese Loaf

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Baking for the letter ‘I’ left me pretty confused. The almost obvious choice was the Irish Soda Bread which has also been on my to-bake list for quite a while. But at the same time, I had decided on the bread theme for this month and the soda bread is technically not bread since it uses baking soda and not yeast. Further research on Google also told me that it is treated as cake in Ireland even though it is called bread and treated as such in the rest of the world.

Like always, the solution presented itself when I was trying to solve another problem. I have been eating more salads now to compensate for all this bread baking and eating. When I was figuring out a tomato salad, I came across this one called Insalata Caprese which means ‘Salad of Capri’. I figured I could put this delicious salad into a loaf and ta da! So, that is what I did. The significance of Insalata Caprese is that it depicts the colours of the Italian flag which is white, red and green. It is a simple salad with fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil leaves sprinkled with salt and pepper. I had seen fresh mozzarella at the newly opened gourmet store near home and promptly bought it.

I was a little apprehensive about the cheese melting and flowing out of the bread but that did not happen. Only a small amount of cheese oozed out but not much fell on the pan and all was well. So when you braid this bread, ensure you do not leave gaps between the strips because that can lead to the cheese oozing out.

Country – Italy

Makes a 10″ loaf

Recipe for the dough from ‘Easy Sourdough Recipes’

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                        1 1/2 cup

Sourdough, unfed                       1/2 cup

Warm water                                 6 tbsp

Instant yeast                                 1 tsp

Salt                                                  1 tsp

Olive oil                                         1 tbsp

Fresh mozzarella cheese           120 gms

Tomato, large                               1

Basil leaves                                   3-4

Salt & Pepper

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the flour, sourdough starter, yeast, salt and olive oil with the water
  • Knead to form a smooth dough, around 7-8 minutes by hand
  • Keep covered in a greased bowl till it doubles in size, about an hour
  • Punch it down and keep covered again to rise again for an hour
  • Cut the tomato and mozzarella into 3-4 slices each
  • Roll out the dough into a rectangle of around 8*6″
  • Leave a gap of an inch and place the mozzarella and tomato slices alternatingly in the centre of the rectangle
  • Tuck in the basil leaves between the mozzarella and tomato and sprinkle the salt and pepper
  • With a knife or dough scrapper, cut finger wide strip on either side of the fillings
  • Fold in the top of the dough and then fold in the strips alternating between the two sides
  • Tuck in the dough at the bottom of the loaf
  • Set aside for 15-20 minutes

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  • Preheat the dough at 220C
  • Reduce the temperature to 200C and bake for 20-25 minutes till the top is nicely brown
  • Remove from the oven and let cool
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter ‘I’.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 75

Baked Spinach & Corn

 
I have seen and heard so much about baked spinach and corn but somehow I have never tried making it. I always end up making pasta with white sauce and forget about this wonderful combination.

So when my favorite chef on TV, Venkatesh Bhat showed his recipe I knew I had to make it.

So I made this recipe in two parts – one is the Bechamel Sauce and the other is this one.

  

So here goes –

Serves 2 and a cheese loving toddler

WHAT WE NEED

Boiled corn              1 cup

Water

Pinch of sugar

Olive oil                      1 tbsp

Spinach                      1 bunch

Garlic                          2 pods

Bechamel sauce       2 cups

Mixed dried herbs   2-3 tsp

Cherry tomatoes      6-8

Cheese                         Lots

WHAT TO DO

  • Boil water sufficient to immerse the spinach.
  • Once it is boiled, add the pinch of sugar
  • Once the sugar has melted, add the spinach such that it is completely immersed in the water.
  • Let it remain for 2-3 minutes. Then drain the water and pass the spinach under cold running water.
  • Squeeze the spinach and finely chop it and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a panama add finely chopped garlic to it
  • After the garlic attains a mild brown color, add the spinach and sauté for around 5 minutes
  • Remove the spinach and garlic from the pan.

   

  • Preheat the oven to 250C
  • In the same pan, pour the Bechamel sauce.
  • Once it’s warm, add the corn, spinach and garlic and mix well to combine
  • Add the requisite amount of salt and stir well.
  • After 4-5 minutes, transfer the  mixture to an oven safe dish
  • Sprinkle the mixed herbs and pepper ppwder.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes either whole or halved
  • Grate cheddar and mozzarella cheese and sprinkle generously on top
  • Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the cheese melts and attains a golden brown color. I baked for 5 minutes and then set the oven to broil for around 4 minutes.
  • Take it from the oven, drool, click some photos and enjoy with some bread!

   

NOTES

  1. You can also add fresh herbs, parsley, basil and pitted olives along with the cherry tomatoes.
  2. You can use as much or as less cheese as you want. You can use either cheddar or mozzarella or a mix of both. I used only cheddar.
  3. I used an 8*8 square dish. 

 

This is my entry for the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge hosted by Srivalli.