Friday, March 21, 2014

Muffiins, Bran Muffins for breakfast-on-the-go.

I am a picky eater. I have issues with textures. 
When I was little, I would peer into the yogurt bowl ( home made yogurt) and squint painfully to check if there was any 'malai' and if there was, I'd reject the whole thing. My parents wold strain the milk and set the yogurt. I would again squint painfully and with a spoon in hand, scrape off the top layer of yogurt to reveal the silky smooth yogurt below. 
As my tea cooled, a film would cover it. Arrgh! I'd run into the kitchen and get a super fine tea- strainer and a fresh cup, strain my tea and drink it. 
I could do all this at home but it was not so easy when I was visiting someone. I'd politely decline tea or coffee even though I was in sore need of the much needed four o'clock cuppa. Sometimes I'd fake and say I am allergic.

M does not see eye-to-eye with my picky nature. He tsk-tsks every time I pick and trash the plasticky film from the top of milk (when I need to boil it). He wonders why I run miles from food that is slimy-ish (like eggplant or oats). He loves oats, eats them for his breakfast, everyday. No sugar needed. GULP!
I prefer these oatmeal bars.
Then one day, M comes home from Sprouts and has bag of  wheat bran. I slapped my forehead and in the very 'wifey way' asked, " arey ha bhusa kashala anlay ata?"He went on and on about this stuff.  I huffed and I puffed.
Then one day, M actually tried to eat the bran like he ate oats. I could not take my eyes off the the rhythmic way his jaws were working and also noticing that he was not gulping. I nodded approvingly, "Bran is good. Loads of fiber. Loads of benefits. Very good" I added, rubbing it in.
I am perverse that way.

Finally, he decided that good or not, bran was better used in some other form. He mentioned it to me, in passing that, bran muffins were good for health.

The idea of a muffin was a good one though. And it would finish up the bran. This recipe caught my attention. 
I made a few changes to the recipe (not the measurement, of course), substitution, really. The changes worked very well and we all enjoyed the muffins, M shared some with his colleagues too. 
These muffins are very moist and slightly sweet making them a treat. They are good for breakfast-on-the-go.

Here is the recipe with my substitutions:

  • 2 cups  Wheat Bran
  • 1 cup date and nut snack  or just dates- pureed
  • 1/2 cup  dark raisins
  • 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup  buttermilk ( if you do not have store brought buttermilk, use 1/2 cup milk and add 1/2 tsp Vinegar, let it stand for a few mins, then use it)  or plain low- or non-fat yogurt
  • a few swipes of fresh orange zest (unsprayed) (I did not have any, I left it out)
  • 1/2 cup  packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup  vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup  flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin 

  •  Spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for six to eight minutes, stirring a few times so it cooks evenly. Let cool.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 cup of the date snack / dates with 1/2 cup of the water. Simmer for ten minutes, or until the water is all absorbed. Puree the date snack / dates until smooth.
In a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, buttermilk or yogurt, 1 cup water, then mix in the date puree, orange zest, and brown sugar.
Stir in the oil, egg and egg white.
Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and sift directly into the wet ingredients. Stir until the ingredients are just combined, then mix in the 1/2 cup raisins.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, making sure the batter is mounded slightly in each one. 
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center.

breakfast on the go

Have a great weekend! With the weather clearing up, it is splendid outside! Pack these muffins in your picnic basket and enjoy the weather.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Curry Leaf Bread in a Bread Maker

Every Sunday, we go to the Hindu Temple and our little one attends classes that teach him about the various Gods and Goddesses we worship. It is more like story time and that is what we would like to keep it at. After this class, he toddles off to the regional Language class. 
We have enrolled him for Marathi. 
I usually sit with him in the class and help him to write Marathi alphabets ( and thorough;y enjoy myself  over the pronunciations) . 
Over the past few months, these classroom sessions have been fun and also helped me make some friends.
With most Mom's with Kindergartners, we all bond well and have the same complaints and funny anecdotes to share. The teachers are also a lot of fun and keep the atmosphere light and easy going, which helps the instruction.
The class lasts an hour and by noon, all the little ones (and the parent attending with the child) are hungry. A little bite is always welcome!

Just last month, I made a small investment and added, to the already large amount of gadgets in my tiny and cramped kitchen, a Bread Maker Machine.
Source: Google Search
I found this on craigslist. I was a bit skeptical when I went to see it, but the person assured me it was in working order. Of course, the couple also added they used it only to make roti dough. I bought it. For the price, it was a good deal.
I came home and Little S and I looked at it carefully and decided to go ahead and bake a loaf of fresh bread.
It couldn't be simpler. And the results were great! I was dancing! No more kneading. Oh yes! I could live with that.

And so, 2 weeks ago, I made this fantastic and fragrant Curry Leaf Bread in my Bread Machine and shared it with the Marathi Class Teachers and friends. 
the loaf was sliced in to slightly thick slices and slathered with butter. Everyone loved it and all the pieces were quickly polished off. I was thrilled to bits.

This recipe is a keeper and here is my slightly tweaked version: ( for use with a Bread Machine

In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups All Purpose flour, 1 tsp. Turmeric powder, 1 tsp. crushed Cumin Seeds, 2 Tbsp. Finely chopped Fresh Curry Leaves.

In a microwave safe bowl, add 11/4 cup Water, 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter and microwave for 50-60 seconds, until the butter has melted.
The Water + Butter mixture must not too hot (about 110 F) 
Add this Water + Butter mixture to the bread pan, to this, add 1.5 tsp. Kosher Salt and 2 Tbsp. Sugar.
Carefully add the Flour Mixture on top of the liquid.
Make a shallow well on top of the flour mixture and add 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) Active Dry Yeast.

Close the lid and set the machine for White bread, 2 Lb. Loaf with a Medium Dark crust.

That's it. Really...

A fresh, fragrant loaf will be ready in 3 hours.
Un-mold and cool completely on a rack. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut slices and smear butter  and serve.


- I used only Water in this recipe, the original recipe calls for Water and Evaporated milk. I am planning on trying it  the next time I make this loaf.

- The original recipe is for baking the loaf in a regular oven. Read the instructions carefully ( the original recipe link is provided above)  and follow it.

- I have observed that the bread maker makes wonderful loaves, but they tend to be a bit dry on the second day. This reminds me of the fresh loaf or Paav we get in India. These are preservative free and have a short shelf life. So if you make this bread, share it with family and friends and enjoy it while it is fresh. 

- I plan on making this bread again and the next time around, I plan of increasing the liquid and fat amount a bit more. If this experiment is successful, it will be updated here :)

- For a bread maker, add the liquids at the bottom, top with flour and make a well in the flour ( shallow well, do not let the liquid show) and add yeast to the well. Select the right cycle and relax The machine does all the work.

Spring break is almost over  and we are back from a small relaxing and fun holiday and schools are all set to open. The weather is still misbehaving at our end and has even more mood swings than a pms'ing woman. We had a disappointing Holi and played indoors with just some dry color, thanks to my friend Sujata who dropped in and added some color into the dull day! 

How did you celebrate Holi? Do share some colorful tidbits from your part of the world, I'd love to know!

ETA: I made this loaf yesterday with Evaporated milk and water ( as per original recipe) and the bread was moister and oh! So tasty! the last slice was eaten today morning. Not a crumb left.
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