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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Salads and breads

Do you ever have that craving for fresh baked bread?
And not just plain bread, I wanted tons of garlic and fresh herbs flavor in it.

So I looked for the recipe and made this delicious focaccia bread. Not only does it tastes heavenly but when you bake it the smell in your kitchen can't be more divine than this.

(sorry, those who doesn't eat onions and garlic)!

Below is the recipe

I used 3 cups of plain flour, 1 tbsp instant yeast (it is much better as you can skip the proofing process) 1-1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1tbsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp fresh rosemary 1 tbps coarse black pepper, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, (you can use Romano if you prefer).

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, half of the chopped garlic , oregano, thyme, rosemary and black pepper. Mix in the olive oil and water. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Punch dough down; place on greased baking sheet. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining galic parmesan/romano cheese .

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Have you ever wondered that salads can be a complete meal too. I know some people still think salad is boring cucumber, tomato, onion, lettuce mixture. But if you explore this culinary side, you will be amazed how simple it is to whip up a salad with unusual ingredients and how scrumptious it can be. I made two salads this week, both are my personal favorite. And the other thing I do is I make my own salad dressings. Don't be fooled by the bottled ready made dressings. You don't know how many calories you consume with each tablespoon. And the home made also taste better.

The first salad is a very refreshing one.

Corn and Black bean salad.

I used one can of corn kernels, 1 can of black beans, 2 medium tomatoes chopped (I prefer Roma tomatoes) 1/2 cup chopped scallions (green onions), (you can use red onions too, to make it more colorful and for different taste) 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, 1 small green pepper chopped, 1 jalapeno chopped (you can use more depending on the heat you want in the salad), 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, juice of half lime or lemon, (lime is more refreshing) 1 tsp of cumin powder, 1/2 tsp of chile powder, salt to taste.

Mix the ingredients in the order they are and serve at room temperature.

What I did was I served the salad on the romain lettuce leaves, it looks exotic.

This is the other salad I was talking about.
It has an unusual combination of red radishes and apples with sour cream.
I have just followed Rachael Ray's recipe, except that I omitted the lettuce part, I just wanted to taste the combination of radish and apples. But you can add lettuce, as I have also mentioned in the recipe. And if you are like me I don't like the red wine vinegar taste with sour ceam so I used lemon juice instead. I used dried dill instead of fresh dill.
10 radishes, thinly sliced 2 Red Delicious apples, cored, seeded and thinly sliced and tossed with 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 1 head romaine lettuce or red leaf lettuce, chopped
Dill and Poppy Dressing: 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon poppy seeds 2 tablespoons chopped dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill
Combine radish, apple (coated in lemon to retard browning) and onion with chopped lettuce. In a small bowl, combine vinegar with sugar and salt. Whisk in oil, stir in sour cream, poppy and dill. Drizzle dressing evenly over salad and serve.

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