Monday, September 28, 2015

Tender Ridge Gourd Salad with Nuts

I complain time and again that I do not find here, in Togo, most vegetables I might walk into my green grocer and pick up back home. The variety is so small that I might repeat the same fare week after the other. Though the variety is limited, I find most of the vegetables year around and that I am happy for. Many times the available vegetables are not quite fresh, but when you do get some fresh and tender, I will grab those, only to stock up inside the refrigerator. The vendors have standard prices and they would refuse to sell just the quantity I offer to take. I have no choice but buy a whole bunch. That said, I have learnt to freeze certain  vegetables and use when I choose to.
On my last visit though, i found very tender ridge gourd on a rare occasion and took them home. As I was trying to check them for the bitterness, which might be common with these gourds, they tasted so fresh, tender and almost sweet. I might be wasting the tenderness by cooking, I thought. Also in my supply I had cherry tomatoes and somewhat sour green grapes. Thus, the idea of this salad came up. Toss in a handful of favourite nuts and a colourful salad with crunch of nuts is ready to be consumed.

There is no specific recipe to share. It is upto one's own choice of vegetables to go in and nuts to add to. Nonetheless, I might share a basic recipe which anyone may build on.

Tender Ridge Gourd Salad with Nuts 
Serves two people 

2 very tender ridge gourds
8-10 cherry tomatoes
10 slightly sour green grapes
A fistful of mixed toasted nuts
Chilli flakes just a little to add heat

Cut the ridge gourd in small size cubes.
Halve the cherry tomatoes.
Halve the green grapes and remove the seeds. I had grapes with thick skin and thus peeled it also.
In a salad plate arrange all the above and toss in the nuts. Mix in the chilli flakes.
I had sour grapes so it balanced the heat. If necessary squeeze the juice of limes as desired.

Serve freshly put together salad.
The No Croutons Required Event is jointly hosted by Lisa and Jacqueline. This month's event is being held at Lisa's Kitchen. This salad is being sent to the same.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread - We Knead to Bake 31

Having been away from this space for just about a month, I am back baking with the We Knead to Bake group this month. This month's is a simple bread which does not mean that it is not delicious. It might sure become one of your favourite breads.
Aparna chose this yeasted banana bread for this month. I had been away from my home and was back only a few days back. I had to wait to go to the market to procure certain ingredients needed and mainly bananas to attempt the bread. Here I am sharing this bread with readers.
Aparna adds,
"Banana bread as we know it is usually a moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread, that is a bread that is leavened with baking powder.  This month’s bread however is a twist on not just banana bread but also the classic white sandwich bread.

This Banana Bread is a yeasted slightly sweet sandwich bread that makes particularly excellent peanut butter sandwiches. Also try making French toast with it and you won’t regret it, I promise. You can also make savoury sandwiches with this Banana Bread or serve it on the side with curries or soup.
This is a recipe for Sandwich Bread so it’s best to leave it plain. If you would like to flavour the bread with something though, here are some suggestions for flavour pairings/ combinations that go well with banana.

Fruit - Apricot, Blueberry, Cherry, Date, Fig, Guava, Kiwi, Kumquat, Lime, Mango, Orange, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberry
Spices - Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Tea
Others - Caramel, Coconut, Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Honey, Macadamia, Maple, Oatmeal, Pecan, Walnuts, White Chocolate."
I chose to leave it plain with only the basic recipe given. However you have the above mentioned choices to try.

Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread
(Adapted from )

Makes one medium loaf 81/2"X41/2"
3/4 cup to 1 cup lukewarm milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour *
1/2 tablespoon vital wheat gluten* (optional)
25 grams butter soft at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
3 small ripe bananas (Chopped to fill 1 to 1&1/2 cups)

* I chose to use bread flour replacing the all purpose flour and hence did not use vital wheat gluten.
You may use all purpose flour and not use the vital wheat gluten also.

I use the machine to knead my dough while it can be done by hand also.
Place all the ingredients except the milk in a large bowl/ bowl of your processor. Mix well.
Add the milk and knead until you have a shaggy dough. Add more milk as necessary to achieve this. I needed a little more than 3/4 cup but not all of the 1 cup listed above.
Take away from the bowl and knead further by hand until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic.
Shape it into a ball and place in an oil coated bowl. Cover and let the dough double in volume for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Gently deflate the risen dough and shape it in a loaf to fit a 81/2"X41/2" loaf tin. Cover loosely and let it rise again to the top of the tin.
Brush the top with milk and if desired press some oats on top. 
Bake in a pre heated 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F oven for about 40 to 50 minutes until the top is nicely brown and the breads feels hollow when tapped.
Remove from the oven and allow to completely cool before slicing it.

Serve as sandwich or plain with tea.
Now, head over to Aparna's post where you might find links to posts by other members also.