Cheesy Onion and Sesame Seed Braided Bread

The Baby kicked!

Yesterday my baby (or foetus, if you prefer to call it that way) kicked  a feel-able kick for the first time. A real knock-off one which the father could sense too. And once again I realised what they show in movies is total crap! The baby does not know what “All is Well, All is Well” is and kicking the first time can not really be defined.

I had been feeling the flutters since the last two weeks, as if I am slowly releasing an air-filled bottle deep under water and the bubbles are gushing out. Thats how the initial baby movements felt. And then I would frantically place my husband’s hand on my tummy so that he could feel it and I would momentarily stop breathing. Lest my breathing rhythm would camouflage the baby’s kick. But naah, I could just feel it inside, and nothing through the layers of the womb and skin. So the Eureka moment of “He kicked/ She kicked – for the first time” was spread out over a two weeks!

Similar thing had happened when we found out I was pregnant. Being led on by the movies, I was expecting a lightning moment where I realise I had conceived, and would tell the husband, he would lift me in his arms, we would sing a song or two and already start dreaming about baby’s names. But noh! It was a long, excruciating process where you confirm that you are really pregnant.

I had a stack of home pregnancy tests, anticipating I would miss my periods and intended to take the test the very day I missed them. Curiosity was killing me, but still we decided to wait for a day. I couldn’t sleep all night, as if it were result day the next morning. And at 4 am, I finally woke up and took the test, unable to resist it any longer. In the sleepy groggy state I waited for a second for the strip to change color. It did not. I was disappointed and came back to sleep. The husband had woken up by now, consoled me saying that we will check it again a few days later and then he went to use the bathroom. I slept.

When we woke up at 7 am, husband said to me that the strip lying on the counter had changed color. I went and checked, and it had! Very slightly, but there was a change. Duh. We had to take the test again, and till then nothing could be confirmed. And then the next day there was another home pregnancy test, and then later on the blood test at the gynaecologist, and then finally it was confirmed that I am pregnant.

All the song singing and whirling and twirling stayed in my head.

Someone may say I am watching too many shitty movies and soaps, but they are a source of education. The first time I saw the home pregnancy test was in FRIENDS and Rachel has to be thanked for it. So there you go.

Another dilemma I am now facing is when I see mothers talking to their babies in the womb. I find it REALLY awkward to look down at the tummy and talk. Sure, I have conversations with the baby, but in my head. I can’t, for the love of life, unmute myself and quote Einstein to that little tadpole like thing deep inside layers of amniotic fluid. The father talks to the little one, but it is as if he is talking to me and I am responding to what he is saying. But me saying something to my stomach in an empty room? Well, thats not happening.

I just hope that doesn’t make me any less of a mother, but I have to preserve my sanity. I am sure the baby will eventually know my voice, albeit without a woman who talks to her body parts.

Lovingly,

Rutvika

*******       *******       *******

My other love has been Beth Hensperger’s book The Bread Bible. I have made several breads from the book before like this one or this one or even this beautiful one. All three use entirely different methods and with some adjustment of flour, the bread dough shapes up beautifully. There is really nothing like home-baked fresh bread.

And when it comes filled with cheesy onion and sesame seed filling and shaped like this one here, it’s a total winner.

Braided bread

It may look intimidating in the first glance, but it is super easy to shape the bread like this –

Braiding the bread

Cheesy Onion and Sesame Seed Braided Bread

What you will need :

For the dough

  • 3/4 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 110 grams salted butter (at room temperature)
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 large egg

For the filling –

  • 4 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 tablespoon grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
  • 5 tablespoon sesame seeds + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • rich egg glaze of one egg yolk + little milk

What to do :

  1. In a large bowl using an electric beater with paddle attachment, combine yeast + sugar + salt + 1 and 1/2 cup flour.
  2. Add milk and water and beat until creamy for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the egg + softened butter with another 1/2 cup of flour and beat until butter is incorporated.
  4. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a soft dough which releases the sides of the bowl is formed.
  5. Then turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead till a soft yet springy dough is formed, dusting with flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead for 6-8 minutes by hand.
  6. Place dough in a greased deep container and turn once to coat. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 and 1/2 hours.
  7. Meanwhile prepare filling. In a medium skillet, melt butter + oil. Add onions and cook till translucent and limp but not browned, or the filling will turn bitter. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and sesame seeds. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  8. Then gently deflate the dough, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Grease or parchment line a baking sheet.
  9. Cut the dough in half. Roll one half into 18×12 inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into three 4 inch wide strips (4×18 inch.
  10. Carefully spread filling in the centre of each strip, leaving one inch margin on all sides. Fold over the edges and pinch them together, encasing the filling. Lift the ropes and place them on the greased baking sheet one inch apart.
  11. Beginning in the middle braid each rope loosely to each end. Pinch the ends and tuck them under securely. Cover loosely with a plastic wrap and let it double, for 30 minutes.
  12. Twenty minutes prior to baking, preheat the oven to 170C. Gently brush the braid with egg glaze and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes till browned on top and sound hollow when tapped. Repeat with the other half of dough.
  14. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Cutting the bread braid

Notes :

  • If using unsalted butter in dough preparation, use 2 teaspoon salt.
  • Depending on the type of flour and humidity conditions, little more or less flour is required to make a soft and springy dough. The book calls for 4 and 1/2 cups, but I had to use 5 cups of flour.
  • If using active dry yeast, use 1 whole tablespoon of yeast.

 

Bon Apetit!

Inside the braid

Maharashtrian Mixed Vegetable Upma

It is so hot in Mumbai currently, that it becomes very difficult to stand in the kitchen and cook something elaborate. But breakfasts have to be had.  And they have to be quick , healthy and filling.

This upma made from semolina granules or rava as we call it, is a staple breakfast item in all households in western and southern India. Also the several Udipi restaurants dotting the coastline in Mumbai and further south, serve it with coriander yoghurt chutney. And a glass of filter coffee. Heaven.

Upma can be made in 20 minutes flat, and can be done in several ways, adding any vegetables of your choice. Onions are a staple, and like my mom-in-law does, I like to add carrots , baby corn, sweet corn, green peas and anything else that is readily available at home.

Upma final

Yield : 4 servings

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Chinese Veg Machurian with Gravy and Chinese Fried Rice

We Indians have been experimenting with the Vegetable Manchurian and the Fried Rice since ages, to get that perfect taste and texture to suit the Indian palette. The inimitable smell of fresh garlic, onions and chillies being sauteed already creates a background for the delectable Manchurian. And of course, the long grained Basmati with a dash of favoured vegetables. Makes for one colorful and dainty main course!

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What you will need:

Fried Rice

  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup french beans- thinly sliced into diagonal pieces
  • 1/2 cup carrot cut into thin long strips
  • 1 cup chopped spring onion whites
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 chopped spring onion greens
  • Salt to taste

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Penne with chicken and tomato dressing

The Penne pasta especially the ridged one, is an excellent sauce-grabber! The hollows of the pasta hold the sauce inside and the ridges on the outside. Done in white sauce, you will lick the cheesiness off your fingers for quite a while!

And adding shredded chicken, makes it all the more juicy.

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What you need :

For the pasta

  • 250 gms pasta
  • 250 gms boneless chicken breast (i always use the frozen!) – cut into 2 inch pieces , marinated for at least 15 mins in lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, salt and chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp corn flour
  • 4 medium size shredded onions
  • 1 cup Cheese spread or grated cheese
  • 1 tbsp mixed herb seasoning/ pepper and chilli flakes
  • 2 cups water

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Cheesy Baked Bean Tortilla Chips

A perfect starter for a party, which can be made before hand and heated up before serving.

Tortilla chips have become a big favorite these days with all of us. And baked beans and cheese makes a delicious combo with the chips. Simply toss them together, bake them and a fancy starter is all ready to roll!

Ingredients :

1 pack or 200 gms of tortilla chips

1 can of baked beans in tomato sauce

3 Medium sized onions – shredded

250 gm baby corn

3 medium size tomatoes

250 gm unflavored cheese

Salt, Butter, Pepper

oregano/thyme/basil powder – whatever is available

Heat 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a pan, and saute the onion till translucent.

Cut the baby corn horizontally into thin circular slices and blanch them till tender or simply microwave it for 2 minutes with water. Then mix the babycorn and baked beans in tomato sauce with the onions , tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and oregano/thyme/basil seasoning whatever available.

Once this filling is ready, lightly grease a glass bakeware with butter.

Spread a layer of of the tortilla chips, and layer it with the beans filling.  And then grated cheese on top.

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Repeat the same one more time to get a two layered mix.

Bake at 170 degree C for about 20 mins till the cheese melts.

Garnish with coriander and serve warm!

R