Monday, November 24, 2014

Sheermal-We Knead to Bake #22

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A saffron-flavored flatbread, Sheermal is similar to Naan and can be served as a sweet bread for breakfast or tea time or a savory bread to accompany curries, soups or kebabs. It is found in the countries of Pakistan, India, Iran and Bangladesh and is of Persian origins. Slightly different from Naan in that milk replaces the warm water used in preparation of the dough. Traditionally, the sheermal is cooked in a clay oven called a  Tandoor, but a conventional oven produces a very good bread. Sheermal is the November bread for the We Knead to Bake Facebook baking group. Our lovely admin, Aparna has the recipe on My Diverse Kitchen.

A few ingredients in this recipe for Sheermal sound very exotic, such as kerwra (screw pine extract) and rose water, however each flavor can be an acquired taste and can be left out all together. Crushed cardamon, a  pungent and aromatic spice, and a member of the ginger family can be substituted for  the kerwra and rose water. The saffron is essential and makes a lovely color sheermal. 

Hipstamatic image of Sheermal


  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1/2 cup milk, more, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon chewer water or rose water-Omit if desired, use 1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom
  • A few strands saffron soaked in 2 tablespoon warm milk
  • Melted butter, for brushing
  1. Mix the yeast, sugar, and warm water together. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until frothy. Place the flour, salt  and crushed cardamom, if using,in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture and the beaten egg. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add the 1/2 the ghee and pulse a few times, then add the remaining ghee. Pulse a few times until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  2. Add enough milk and rose water or kewra, if using. Then knead until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.
  3. Remove the tea towel, and knead the dough again. Shape into a ball, lightly coat with some of the ghee and let rest for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and using your fingers, press out each portion into a 4 inch round (1/8-inch thick).  Place the rounds on a parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Using a fork, prick holes over the whole surface of the dough rounds.
  5. Brush the dough rounds generously with the saffron milk mixture. Bake at 350°F or 180C for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Do not over bake. Remove from the oven and immediately brush the shells with melted butter or more ghee. Serve warm.

This bread has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pastrami,White Cheddar and Apple Grilled Cheese on French Bread

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Originally called "Johnny Apple Cheese", aka Johnny Pastrami by , this hearty grilled cheese sandwich features an apple butter, Dijon mustard and honey spread that is a perfect complement to the thinly sliced apples that are layered in along with the beef pastrami and white cheddar cheese. I first saw this recipe in Fine Cooking and was intrigued not only by the beautiful image of the sandwich with enticing drips of melted cheese, but also by the name of the sandwich.

Eric Greenspan graduated from the Berkley Hass School of Business and the Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Paris and has worked with the top chefs in the world. However, he is well known for his grilled cheese sandwiches, having been inspired to transform the traditional cheese plate into a sandwich. His premier sandwich, dubbed-The Champ, was filled with taleggio cheese, raisin walnut bread, apricot caper puree and beef short ribs.

Instead of using the homemade apple chutney that Chef Greenspan uses, a tangy apple spread made from apple butter, Dijon mustard and honey mimics the chutney flavors perfectly-  Fine Cooking

While the recipe calls for sourdough bread, I thought my homemade French bread loaf made a good substitute.
Pastrami, White Cheddar and Apple Grilled Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons apple butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 4- 1/2-inch thick slices sourdough or French bread
  • 8 ounces white cheddar cheese, thinly sliced or coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced salami
  • 6-10 thin slices of apple, honey crisp is a good choice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Combine the apple butter, honey, Dijon  mustard and a pinch of the salt in a bowl. Spread on both sides of the bread and top with half the cheese and half the pastrami. On top of that, layer the sliced apple, overlapping slightly, and the remaining cheese. Repeat with the other two slices of bread to make two sandwiches.
  2. In a heavy duty skillet over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter until lightly browned. Add the sandwiches and cook, adjusting heat if necessary, until golden brown on one side. Flip, adding the remaining tablespoon of butter, and cook, lifting the edges of the bread to allow the butter to run under. Again, adjust the heat as necessary, until the cheese has melted and other side is a golden brown. Slice in half and serve.

Easy French Bread Loaf

Using the bread machine to process the dough, then baking the bread in a conventional oven makes this an easy everyday bread.

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1-1/3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. Process the ingredients according to the manufacturer's instruction for basic bread dough. When cycle has completed, remove the dough from the machine to a lightly floured surface. Punch down and let rest, covered, about 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Using your palms and fingers, flatten the dough into an oval about three times the width of your baking pan. Fold over the edges, as if you were making an envelope. Place the loaf in the pan, seam side down, ends tucked under. This ensures a loaf that is higher in the middle and rounded on top.
  3. Place the bread in the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the loaf from the pan and let cool on a rack. For a softer crust, immediately rub the top of the loaf lightly with butter.

The black and white image above is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #151, hosted this week by Sanhita from the blog, Pocket Full of Spices. BWW is an ongoing blog event begun in July 2011 by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. Susan handed the reins over to the also talented Cinzia of, Cindy Star Blog. It is a delight to post my black and white culinary images to this event.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.