Sandwich Bread

Sandwich Bread in a Pan

There’s nothing better than returning home to the smell of freshly baked bread. You just don’t notice it as much if you stick around while the bread is baking. So after I popped this loaf in the oven, I went out for a quick run. It was a cold day too, so returning to an oven-warmed apartment that smelled of bread was a major bonus. It always reminds me of close family friends – their house is always filled with the smell of bread, pie or whatever delicious baked good they have whipped up. They also keep a very well-stocked cellar with shelves and shelves of canned goods and preserves, but that’s for another post.

In the French toast post from a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had made the sandwich bread myself. Here’s the recipe. I recommend using the bread as soon as you can, ideally while still warm. Two days at most.

Sliced Sandwich Bread

 

Sandwich Bread
Recipe from How to Cook Everything
Makes 1 loaf

 

3 1/2 cups flour
2 tspn salt
1 1/2 tspn instant yeast
1 TBSP sugar or honey
2 TBSP neutral oil or softened butter, plus more for the bowl and pan
1 1/3 cups cool milk

 

Using a stand mixer with the dough hook, combine 1 3/4 cups flour, the salt, yeast and sugar in the bowl. Turn the machine on low and mix together for 5 seconds. With the machine running on low speed, add the oil or butter and milk. Increase to medium speed and mix until the ingredients form a smooth mixture. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the remaining flour. Return to medium speed and mix until a sticky ball forms and it pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for one minute and shape into a ball. Grease a large bowl with a little oil, add the dough and turn until coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.

Punch down the dough to release any gas. Again, working on a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, flatten the dough and shape it into a rectangle. Fold the long sides of the dough to the middle and pinch together with your fingers. Fold under the ends of the loaf as well.

Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with oil or butter. Put the loaf in the pan, seem side down, and flatten with the back of your hand. Cover and let rise until the top of the dough is nearly level with the top of the pan.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the top of the loaf with water and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the loaf on a wire rack.

Sandwich Bread

Naan Bread

Naan Bread

As I mentioned in this week’s Meatless Monday post, I made a batch of naan bread to go along with the chana masala. It was surprisingly easy to make, which is probably due largely to the fact that the bread only takes 5-6 minutes to bake in the oven. The recipe for the dough is similar to most yeast breads, but it’s wetter with the addition of yogurt and milk.

Naan is best served fresh, when the bread is still warm and puffed up. It’s similar to pita bread but the naan is lighter and has a softer texture. It’s a great with Indian dishes or served with yogurts and chutneys.

 

Naan
From How to Cook Everything
Makes about 12 naan

 

2 tspn instant yeast
2 TBSP milk
2 TBSP yogurt
1 TBSP sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or just use a full 4 cups all-purpose flour)
1 egg
2 tspn salt
Neutral oil
Melted butter for serving

 

Stir together the yeast, milk, yogurt and sugar in a bowl and reserve. Combine the flour, egg and salt in a mixer (or a food processor). Turn the machine onto a low-to-medium setting and pour in the yeast mixture. With the machine running, slowly add 1 1/2 cups water until the mixture forms a ball that is slightly sticky to the touch. If the ball is dry, add a little more water. If too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time.

Roll the dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a little bit to form a smooth ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1-2 hours.

Put a baking stone (or a baking sheet) on the lowest rack in the oven and heat to 500 degrees.

Punch the dough down. Using enough flour to keep from sticking, roll the dough into a long snake and cut into 12 equal balls. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Using a lightly floured pin, roll the balls into an oval shape, about 6-8 inches long and 3-4 inches wide.

Open the oven and toss the naan onto the cooking stone, working in batches and baking as many as will fit on the stone at one time. Close the oven door and bake for 3 minutes. Flip the naan and bake for another 2-3 minutes. The naan is ready when it’s puffed up and browned around the edges.

Store the naan on a tray and wrapped in a kitchen towel to keep warm. Serve as soon as possible, with one side brushed with melted butter.

Another option for finishing the baked naan is to heat the bread over an open flame until lightly blackened. You can do this on a grill or just over a stove top burner, using tongs to hold the naan. It will end up looking like this:

Naan

Roasted Chickpeas

I eat a lot of chickpeas, primarily in the form of hummus. It’s a staple in my apartment and there’s rarely a time when there isn’t a container of hummus in the fridge. Or in the fridge at my office. It might sound silly, but it’s one of those things that I think helps me eat better – because unless there’s some hummus in my fridge, that bag of baby carrots is going to be sitting in the bottom drawer for a while.

This week though, I thought I’d mix it up and try out this recipe for roasted chickpeas. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, and, as you might now, I can’t seem to get enough of Mark Bittman’s cookbook these days. These make for a good snack when entertaining and go well with a nice cold beer.

Roasted Chickpeas
Recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

1 can chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt
Spice of your choosing

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the chickpeas and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat a skillet with a good amount of oil and heat to medium. Add the chickpeas, garlic, salt and pepper, and shake the pan so that the chickpeas are coated in oil and in one layer.

Put the skillet in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, shaking occasional. They should have a nice golden brown color at this point. If you want the chickpeas to be crunchier, cook for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and drain the chickpeas on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Season with a spice of your choice, or keep it simple and just use some kosher salt. I used chili powder, but spices like curry powder or Old Bay would work well too.  Serve warm.

A few thoughts. As noted above,  you can cook the chickpeas to a different consistency and texture. I ended up going for crunchier, but next time I think I’ll opt for the shorter cooking time. I was hoping to get a bit of char on the chickpeas, which was the primary reason I cooked them for a longer amount of time. But as I learned, the crunchier the chickpeas the drier they are, which might not be ideal for everyone. As I was cooking though, I did test a few chickpeas at the 20 mark in the oven and they were much softer and not nearly as dry.

Lent Update: My New Best Friend

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about giving up meat for Lent, so I thought I’d write a quick update. At the time, the task seemed a bit daunting, but so far so good. I haven’t strayed. Not once. I’ve been tempted, believe me. But making sure that I avoid walking by Five Guys at all times has proven to be quite helpful.

I’ve also made a new best friend – Mark Bittman’s cookbook “How to Cook Everything.” It’s an incredibly accessible and in-depth cookbook, and it has become my number one go-to for easy and straight-forward recipes. It also has hundreds of vegetarian options. As noted in a previous post, I’ve made no-knead bread and now I’m also three weeks into a decent sourdough starter. Rice pilaf, infused olive oil, pizza, Spanish rice and beans, and most curry with lentils and potato have all made it to the table recently as well. They’re fairly basic recipes, but still good to add to my repertoire. Up next, I’m hoping to try my hand at lo mein, dal (more lentils), roasted chick peas, and a recipe or two from the fish & seafood section of the book.

And speaking of best friends:

Not at all food related, but I loved that movie. I also have a thing for posting videos these days.