Breads

Grilled Avocado Sandwich

heading

There is a sudden oversupply of avocados in the Singapore Market .  I remember having a tough time in selecting the best from the little basket of raw avocados, pay S$2 for each I picked and wait for over 3-4 days for them to naturally ripen ; Now you see big caskets of  ripened Hass variety of these butter-fruits imported directly from America and thanks to their profusion, they now cost just  S$ 2.75 for 3!!  ( Please don’t judge me!)  Singapore food market relies completely on imports, so prices are decided by the supply. ( I even remember paying S$3.6 /kg for my Indian tomatoes 😐 )

Anyway, I love avocados for its distinct texture & health benefits and now I had an encouraging reason to take them to my kitchen! 🙂 While I was happily choosing my dark spotty Alligator Pear ( that’s what they are called for obvious reasons ) , my brain was churning ideas to effectively use them. As I trotted  further, I entered supermarket’s in-house bakery section and that is when a loaf of herb Focaccia caught my eye. The sound of “Avocado & herb Focaccia Sandwich” sounded both fresh and delicious! So here it goes:

Quick Ingredients:

  • Focaccia Loaf
  • Lettuce
  • 1.5 cups of Guacamole
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Tomatoes
  • Butter/Olive oil ( to lightly grease the bread)

Avocado Sandwich

I started by making fresh tangy guacamole dip, using the same recipe that we shared with you in our express Mexican platter.  To quickly reiterate I used pulp from 2 medium ripe avocados, one medium onion, one medium tomato, few green chilies ( instead of jalapeno peppers ) , loads of cilantro,  salt and lime to taste.

Guacamole

It takes 5 mins to mins to assemble the sandwich once the guacamole spread is ready ( which in itself is a very quick process).

Avocado Sandwich

Whether to have this sandwich grilled or just raw is completely an individual choice. I like to grill it to make this preparation more interesting. When grilled, the focaccia gets a li’l crisp and adds a new dimension to the otherwise gooey filling of guacamole, tomatoes and cheese.  I lightly brushed the bread with butter spread so it doesn’t become too dry. Olive oil can also be a healthy substitute.

Avocado Sandwich

All set to be Grilled in the oven

Just give it 5 mins in the oven. Alternately, you may choose to toss it on grill pan over a gas stove just enough to make the bread crisp.  You may serve this with extra guacamole and lemon wedge.

The freshness of ingredients is the highlight of this sandwich. Cilantro, chili and Lime add zing to this nutritious meal while cheese and avocado add to the creamy texture.  I made this sandwich for quick breakfast. Its simple, healthy and heavenly!

Avocado Grill

Replacing just a couple of  ingredients, this recipe can be made suitable for our vegan friends. Olive Oil, Vegan Bread and Vegan Cheese are the ingredients that could be incorporated.

To all our working/ bachelor/lazy  friends, who have been requesting us to share some fast and easy health recipes, this quick fix is for you! We hope you’d enjoy it.

Have a munchy weekend!

Ciao!

Team 156, Hungerlane

Categories: Breads, Breakfast, Mains | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Express Mexican Platter

mexican_header

We are back after celebrating the colorful festival of Holi and gorging on equally colorful food menu that we have been sharing with you! Don’t we just love  these festivals, they push us out of our mundane routine while bringing around so much euphoria and enthusiasm.  This time the celebrations were elongated by the long Easter weekend that followed.. Believe me, I have been thinking of sharing this blog post since the Good Friday but lazy mornings followed by eventful evenings have been keeping me away from doing so!  Anyway, finally we are here and to compensate for our absence , we are excited to introduce a whole new dimension to our widespread blog menu – The Tex- Mex Express! The inclination to try Mexican cuisine came when our close friends and fellow bloggers- Neha and Mridul shared with us the recipe to the Guacamole Dip on their blog. While their blog post was enough to plant the idea of trying Mexican cuisine in my head, the recent visit to two interesting Mexican restaurants in Singapore – Cha Cha Cha and Viva Mexico just pushed me further into  trying the extended Tex-Mex platter at home!

Tex-Mex is often used to describe a localized version of Mexican cuisine ( and even uses ingredients that are not generally used in traditional Mexican preparation). So, today, we will share with you the recipe for “quick” Tex-Mex platter using simple, easy to find ingredients!  The items on platter require minimum cooking and use of very little oil…. Hope this makes this post all the more exciting for you! 🙂

So, this is what our platter looks like:

Mex Platter

We tried three famous dips that generally accompany the Mexican mains :
1. Guacamole ( that uses Avocado as the main ingredient)
2. Chunky Salsa ( Fresh dip made of tomato chunks!)
3. Sour Cream 
 
Apart from this we tried the vegetable Quesadillas and baked Nacho Chips!
 
The Dips:
 

1. Guacamole

Guacamole is made by mashing ripe avocados and adding few condiments that make it more interesting. Avocados become smooth and creamy when mashed and are often used to replace butter in vegan preparations!. They have very mild yet unique taste, and therefore care should be taken that condiments added do not overpower its distinct flavor.

Guacamole

Directions:

– Take ripe Avocados (one with dark firm shell but they should yield to pressure when pressed hard), deseed them, scoop out the avocado pulp into a bowl and mash it using a fork. Note- Keep the seed aside and do not throw it away, 😕 we will shortly* tell you why.

– For one Avocado, add 3 tbsp spring onions/ red onions,  1 tbsp minced jalapenos, loads of chopped coriander, half a  lime and kosher salt to taste.  You may use green pepper sauce/tobasco if you do not find jalapenos, also the kosher salt may be replaced by rock salt.

– Some people add tomatoes to the Guacamole, but we are not too happy about the idea, the water from the tomatoes doesn’t quite mix that well with rich, creamy avocado texture! You may chose to top the Guacamole with fresh tomatoes just before serving instead.. its  completely your choice! 🙂

Mix everything well and fold in all the ingredients.  [ Handy Tip-  The Guacamole tends to oxidize and turn brown within sometime. To prevent this, ensure that you scrape off the greenest portion next to the peel, add lime juice right in the beginning and insert the avocado *seed in the guacamole until you are ready to serve it. It is said that the avocado seed prevents the guacamole from turning brown]Guacamole

2. Chunky Salsa

Salsa is Spanish term for “Sauce” and is also a famous Mexican dip. Tomatoes are the main ingredients for Mexican salsa preparation. Nowdays, the prepacked salsa jars are easily available at almost all general stores with variations in the amount of spice/heat. While the prepacked salsa have a thick paste consistency, what we tried was a lot chunkier.. almost like a Salsa Salad!

Salsa Dip

For our Chunky Salsa we need:

Medium Firm Tomatoes – 2
Small Onion-1
Capsicum – 1/3 rd
Jalapenos/Green Chilies- to taste 
Coriander Leaves – one small bunch
Fresh Mint Leaves- handful
Oregano- 1 tsp
Minced Garlic – 1 clove
Big Lime – 1  
Cumin Powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Sugar- if required
 

Directions:

Chop all the ingredients, you don’t have to cut them too fine or the Chunk of our Chunky Salsa would get lost 😉

It is advised to de-seed the jalapenos and green chilies before you mince them , we do not prefer the seeds for two reasons –  they would make it difficult for us to control the heat of the salsa and since they are  thick-difficult-to-chew, they  do not really do justice to this otherwise fresh tender salsa!

Toss all the ingredients well in a large bowl , you may adjust the flavors especially of salt, lime and heat as per your taste. Sometimes, the tomatoes are too sour which we do not really prefer, we add some sugar to balance the sourness of the tomatoes in such case. It’s completely up to you to how you want your salsa – with sugar or without!

Cover the bowl with a cling wrap, and let it refrigerate for at least 30-40 mins.. why? A. Because you would love this dip chilled! B. The salt and lime together make all the ingredients to release their flavors and come together for this lip smacking concoction! The freshness of mint, coriander and oregano gives kick to the palette in every bite! This fresh, raw salsa can be a great accompaniment to endless dishes.. Try it today!

3. Sour Cream

Sour cream is a cream that has been naturally soured by lactic-acid bacteria. It tastes just like it sounds, creamy yet sour. It’s both delicious and fattening at the same time. Sour Cream makes a great accompaniment to fried potato snacks like wedges, Rosti, baked hash etc.  It even goes wonderfully well with Mexican preparations like tortilla chips, enchiladas, burritos. Sour Cream should ideally be added to any preparation after it has been cooked, so sour cream retains its natural creamy texture!

Directions:

Mix half cup of hung plain yogurt (drain all water by hanging in cheesecloth) with half cup of heavy cream [ ideally it should be 3 tablespoons of yogurt for a cup of cream, but I find half-half a little more healthy ;), you may use any proportion according to your preference].  I am sometimes tempted to use it as it is, right after it has been mixed but ideally, you should let it stand (out in the heat) in a glass container for at least 6-8 hours and then refrigerate.  The bacteria from the curd would sour the cream and the fermentation process would make it heavy. Check the appearance. We are looking for white cream and a creamy, smooth consistency with a characteristic tangy smell.

I learnt this half-half process to make sour cream at home from my sister. This method is not just quick and delicious but also less fattening than the sour cream prepared by other means. Make it in advance and store it in a clean container ( for upto 2-3  days) in fridge for quick use.

Baked Nachos

Baked Nachos

Baked Nachos are as fat-free and  simple as they sound. To make these healthy and express Chips at home, just get any ready-made tortilla wraps. You can use the flavored wraps for a little twist in your chips.

I used the Spinach Tortilla wraps to make  these chips more “healthy”.

Directions:

Cut the Tortilla wraps into desired shapes.

Grease the baking tray with little olive oil and spread the tortilla chips on them properly.

Sprinkle little cumin, cayenne pepper and red chili powder and let them bake till they are golden brown. Caution –  In some cases, it’s better to sprinkle the spices after baking to prevent them from turning brown.  You may take a call accordingly.

Just like that you baked yourself these express and healthy Nacho chips that will go deliciously well with the dips mentioned above!

Express Quesadillas

Quesadillas

Quesadillas, as a dish originated in Mexico. The name is derived from combination of  tortilla and the Spanish word for cheese queso. It is made by folding tortillas after   filling  them with any kind of stuffing and cheese.

Directions:

I used the spinach tortillas again for this recipe ( one pack had 8, and I intelligently used all of ’em).

You can really experiment with what filling you wish to make. I used shredded mozzarella cheese along with vegetable filling (made from tomatoes, spinach,capsicum and onions and seasoned with cumin powder, chili powder and tobasco!) I cooked the filling on a hot skillet with very little olive oil to remove the rawness of the ingredients.

Once the filling is ready, sprinkle little olive oil on a flat non stick griddle, put cheese and filling mixture on one-half of the tortilla wrap, fold it and cook on a slow flame from both sides. The cheese would melt and bind the filling inside the wraps well , making it easier for us to gorge on these crisp, cheesy quesadillas! Cut the quesadillas to make them easier to hold. Serve hot and the cheese shall melt right in your mouth! 😀

Quesadillas

If not the entire, I really hope , we at-least got you are tempted to try few of the express tex-mex preparations we shared with you today. Do let us know how did they come out , share back with us through comments below, our Facebook page or even on our mail 156hungerlane@gmail.com

Recently, we have been really looking forward to something exciting that might just happen for Hungerlane ! We can’t wait to share it with you and shall do it you as soon as we receive a confirmation. 🙂

Till then, keep cooking , sharing and of course, gorging on that good-looking delicious food!

Cheers!

Rashi

 
Categories: Breads, Mains | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Falafel with Hummus

Every new post on 156, Hungerlane has a story behind it that helps us create and conceptualize of what we talk about here. New cuisines or dishes that we tried somewhere. Some we liked a lot, some a little (Foodies really can’t dislike food :)), some enough to inspire us and try it for ourselves. Tried, over and over again until we felt ready for it to be  posted here! So with this recipe, we wish to give our Italian menu a break…  Introducing a middle eastern platter, often quoted as Lebanese platter served in multi-cuisine restaurants- Falafel with Hummus served with warm Pita bread. We are also including the recipe for Green Tahini sauce that we really loved and couldn’t help sharing!

Seriously, I don’t remember where did I first have Hummus with Pita or Falafel! If  I really rack my brains, earliest I can recall having it in the weekend brunch menu at “Not Just Jazz by the Bay, Pune “,  six years back!  They used to serve Hummus Dip with Lavash ( kinda crisp pita bread). Since then, I have been having it at many places – generally as a part of Lebanese or Mezze Platter.  My friend, (now a better friend & husband) Ashim, used to gorge on hummus and often bought a fresh hummus jar from Defence Bakery along with Lavash!

Post wedding, hubby dearest’s love for the dip and the sudden discovery of fresh pita pockets at a local bakery here in Singapore gave me the motivation to try my very own version of Lebanese platter!

I have tried this recipe many times and now feel ready to share on Hungerlane! So here is a step by step recipe!

FALAFEL

The beans need to be soaked for over 6-8 hours and drained. They are added in the food processor just like this to get a coarse mixture for crackling falafel balls.

Falafels should be fried only when they are about to be served. The hot, crispy falafels with cold salad in pita pockets is a combination worth dying for! But what about the dips and sauces?

As promised, here are two dips that would accompany falafels in our lebanese platter- Hummus and Green Tahini!

DIPS and SAUCES

Note, Hummus uses boiled chickpeas instead of just soaked. Make sure you give the soaked chickpeas 8-9 whistles so they are soft to give us a puree consistency for Hummus. Sesame seeds are an important ingredient that makes both the dips creamy and adds a little oil of its own. Cumin seeds are best used little roasted; fresh and juicy lemon works the best! Here’s how we should proceed:

ASSEMBLING into a PLATTER

Get Pita pockets from your local bakery, its a round bread like a pizza base but once its cut in between it opens up into a pocket. If you cannot find Pita pockets,  go for wraps. Falafel in wraps also taste just as delicious. You can even opt to serve just Falafels as an entree with hummus and salad. Its a good variation to the Hara Bhara kababs we have in Indian Starter menu.

You may choose to go with the salad of your choice:  Fresh Cubed Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Thin long sliced- Lettuce, Broccoli pockets (steamed) , Cabbage.. be creative! Some people even love to  add boiled red beans and boiled chickpeas.

Once you have decided on your salad and have it along with you, here’s all that you need to do:

1. Warm Pita pockets in microwave for 30 secs or you can bake it a little in your oven (care, they should not get crisp!) 

2. Cut them into half, open a pocket and spread generous amount of hummus spread.

3. Fill it with salad and 2-3 fresh fried falafel ( or as much it can take or you want it to take :))

4. Top it with green Tahini sauce, and serve it in a platter. You may wrap the pita pockets in soft tissues to make it easy to pick up. 

5. Make sure you serve extra Hummus and Tahini.  You never have enough of them. I create a depression in my hummus blob, fill it with olive oil and sprinkle chilli powder, I even serve a slice of fresh lime for the ones who like it more tangy.

Make sure the pita bread is fresh and so is the salad. If kept for too long, this dish can be a little dry on the palette. You can opt to be a little generous with the olive oil ( drizzle it on Pita too, if need be).  Serve it Hot and Fresh.

We hope you would try and love this recipe. It’s something that does not expect you to be standing in front of the gas stove for long! Boiling chickpeas for Hummus and frying falafel are only two activities that would make you turn on the flame! We hope you try this recipe and put your food processor into good use.It even helps us take a break from the monotonous menu!

Restaurant we like:

There are many restaurants that serve Falafel as a part of their menu. But here in Singapore , we found a place in the plush bay level of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. The restaurant touts of good health and rightly so, does complete justice to its name.

PITA PAN- Pocket full of Health

It not only enjoys exclusivity of being only place serving  just middle eastern menu in Singapore but also a vegetarian place to top that! ( something  that’s not too common on this part of the world). Needless to say, we are a regular there.  I can’t stop myself from bragging about this place  but I guess this post is becoming too long !  So would save the review for later, till then we might try the whole menu! Still, giving you  a sneak peak of the place , clicked on one of our visits from mobile. You don’t want to miss it on your next visit to Singapore.

We will come with more on this place and may be recipes of other dishes they serve like Shakshuka sometime soon! 🙂

Till then, we hope you  keep cooking and sharing!

Burp!!

Rashi 

Categories: Breads, Entree, Mains, Restaurant Reviews, Sauces | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bread

Bread

My fondest food memory from France

 

Bread. A simple, basic French loaf.  I clearly remember my first taste of fresh bread. No, it wasn’t as a kid. I was much older, as old as in my final year of post-graduation in fact, that I first experienced bread. I use the word ‘experience’ because it totally changed the way I look at simpler things in life.

One day on a particularly drizzly afternoon in Aix-en-provence, France, I was trying to sprint back home when I happened to cross this cute little bakery around the corner, sitting quietly engulfed in a heavy aroma of fresh baguette and as if on an auto pilot mode, my nose directed my feet to stop right in front of its door. I stood in awe as I saw fresh bread come out of the oven, spreading its rustic earthy aroma in the air. I secured a baguette with the few pennies in my pocket and decided to stroll back home in the drizzle. Little did I know that a warm bread, a slight drizzle and a walk back home in that beautiful country could become one of my fondest food memories. 

As I look back today, I can’t help but feel sad that most of us are so busy chasing the bigger things, the bigger pay cheque, the bigger office, the bigger house that we have forgotten the joy of smaller and simpler things in life. I had also forgotten about it until it found me again in Hyderabad back in India, in a Deli right next to my house. As I stepped inside for the first time, the dense aroma in the air almost instantly transported me back to France and as though for a moment I was lost in memory. Ever since that day, I have never let it out of sight. Just knowing a place closer home where I can find freshly baked bread anytime I want is so reassuring that I am almost emotional.

After I got my first oven, I obviously had to try it but soon realized, it wasn’t as easy as I thought and certainly very difficult for an impatient person like me. However, after many not so successful attempts at home, I stumbled upon this recipe in a Masterclass episode of Masterchef Australia season 4. Let me just tell you, I tried it and I don’t think I have ever said this in the history of being me, I was proud 🙂

Here is all you need to do!

Take 5 grams of dry yeast and mix it in some warm water to activate and dissolve the yeast. Don’t stir too much. Let it sit for a while, it should dissolve on its own. Take 500 grams of plain flour, add 10 grams salt, the dissolved yeast and knead it with approximately 320 ml of water at room temperature. Add water slowly as you go, just enough to make a soft dough. Put it in a wide bowl, cover it with cling film and let it rest for 1 hour. During that hour as the dough increases in size, knock it back and knead again after every 20 minutes. After your last spell of knocking and kneading, convert it on your baking dish and leave it to rest for another hour. (What can I say, making bread is patiently complicated :P)

Once it has risen, you can spread some flavoring on top to add that extra pinch of happiness. In my case, I sprinkled some dried chilli flakes and mixed herbs. Give 3 – 4 cuts along the bread to prevent it from rising too much. These also make sure that the bread cooks evenly in the middle as well.


Turn on the oven at 250 degrees, 40 minutes before you bake. The oven needs to be really really hot for bread. After the bread has rested and risen for the last hour, put it in the oven to bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Also, take some ice cubes in a tray and put them underneath the bread in the oven. This will help develop a nice soft crust.

The bread might take 30 minutes but soon your room with be filled with its heavenly aroma. Caution: This can attract neighbours and don’t be surprised if they come knocking on your door to see what’s cooking  🙂           

Well, since I suggested this recipe, I also think of it as my moral responsibility to tell you what you can do in such a scenario. The simplest, quickest and easiest thing to do in such a case is to make Bruschetta. The bread is so good on its own that you would anyways not like to change it much. In my case, I made 2 kinds of Bruschetta – Mushroom & Onion and Tomato & Basil.

For Tomato & Basil: Chop nice ripe red tomatoes and add chopped basil, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a small pinch of dried oregano to it. Mix and done!

For Mushroom & Onion: Chop mushrooms and onions and sauté them with a blob of butter in a pan. Add minced garlic and cook till the mushrooms are tender. Add salt, pepper, dried oregano and splash of lemon. Mix well and done!

 Slice your bread and lightly toast in on a pan with some butter. Put your choice of toppings and serve. You can also cut the bread in small pieces and make bite size bruschettas in case you are serving many people.

Whatever you do, however you use it, to me – Bread is humble food for my soul, one that can lift me up from any mood any time and leaves me feeling –  ca va tres tres tres bien 🙂

Et vous?

Bon Appetit!

Nupur

P.S. – Thanks to all my friends for clicking these beautiful pictures of France when we were there. I stole them from your facebook profiles 🙂

Categories: Breads, Mains | Tags: | 3 Comments

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