Chicken Slice Sandwich

Chicken Sandwich compressed

I am out  of town accompanying my husband on his office trip. We will be returning home today so we decided to check out and I am waiting for him to pick me up at the Destiny USA / Carousel Mall in Syracuse, NY. Already done with the window shopping and now lunching at the Panera Bread with a Napa Almond Chicken Sandwich and plenty of time to kill. No I am not shopping anything for myself, however hard that might be to believe, I am not. We both had been buying stuff a little extravagantly last couple of days telling each other its our Puja shopping but seriously who are we kidding!!!

Anyways my Panera Sandwich reminds me of  the post that has been lying in my drafts waiting to be edited and submitted, so I decide to do this right away. No stories today.. no pouring out emotions. Just a quick post on an equally quick recipe. Actually no recipe at all its mainly assembling that needs to  be done. On those days when you wanna grab something for a light lunch or dinner without any elaborate preparations/cooking/cleaning – a sandwich can always come to your rescue.

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I made this last week and used whatever was available in my fridge. There can be number of alterations / additions to this, so do it your way and make it your signature dish.

The first picture has been edited by my loving husband… he wanted to give it a feel of a restaurant style menu. I loved it and decided to use it as my landing pic for this post.

Ingredients: As required for one sandwich

  • Bread – 2 slices; I used white bread, but you can use any variety of your preference.
  • Tomato slices – 2 small slices or one big slice
  • Lettuce – 1 leaf, washed, dried and folded.
  • Onions – 2 rounds or slices
  • Chicken Slice – 3-4. I used the this variety from Target – Hormel Natural Choice Sliced Rotisserie Style Deli Chicken Breast. It is cooked and needs minimum preparation. Use any type of chicken / meat you want.
  • Any sauce/dressing of your choice – as required. I use either a dash of hot sauce, honey mustard or lemon dill
  • Butter or spread for the toast – I like using the Irish butter that is available in BJs.
  • Oil / butter.
  • Any seasoning of your choice – Salt and Pepper (for sure), sometimes I also add a little of the Cajun spice.

Method:

  • Heat a pan on high heat with very little oil/butter. I use the spray oil can for this purpose.
  • Add the onion rings/slices and the chicken slices.
  • Sprinkle some seasoning and saute on both the sides for a minute or two. This adds flavor to the chicken.
  • Meanwhile toast the bread and coat it lightly on one side with butter / spread.
  • Assembly: Place the tomato slices on the butter side of one of the bread slice. Top it with the lettuce leaf. Then add the sauteed chicken slices along with the sauteed onions. Add sauce of your choice. Top it with the remaining slice of bread, buttered side down.
  • Press the sandwich a bit and slice it in halves. Secure it with a toothpick (optional).

Serve it as a lunch, brunch or even dinner. This time I added some grapes and a mango smoothie to make it a complete lunch meal.

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Irish Soda Bread (Buns)

Irish soda bread (2)

Happy St. Patrick’s day!
(Belated… actually, since by the time I could not finish compiling all the pictures yesterday.)

And the day began on a very – very happy note. My brother-in-law and his wife were blessed with a baby girl. We had been hoping for some good news since yesterday night and she chose to decide her own sweet time of arrival. Both mamma and the little princess are doing great and the whole family is celebrating! So we woke up to a festive mood. Had long chats back at home and with the proud father which made me, for a while, reflect on the wonders  of life. Creating a life and nurturing it for months and then finally holding it in your arms is a big feat. A big congrats for that.

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From now on St. Patrick’s day will always be celebrated in the big “C” family, though a little differently than the traditional Irish meals and beer. No, our families hardly have heard of this day; even I realized the significance of this day after I came to the US.

This year I decided to make something Irish.The recipe had featured in the NYTimes and BBC had found it for me yesterday. So what better than today to make the Irish Soda Buns.

I have to thank dear husband – who is the ‘photographer’ in the family – for today’s pictures. Though I usually click almost all the photos for my cookbook (with an exception of one or two), this time I was glad BBC was home and eager to do the shoot. In fact yesterday when he came to me with the recipe he told he would click if I made it. So there you are … I have a number of pics – step by step – for a better illustration. (Click on the pictures for a better visibility.) I got him to do the shots and he delighted me by saying we were a good team – in his word – “you cooking and me clicking”. Secretly, I do like him taking some interest in my cookbook but I am not sure I would like him clicking all my cookbook photos from now on. Not that he will be able to give that time to my ‘little projects’ as he calls them. After all I do enjoy the whole process – the recipe research, then cooking, clicking and editing and finally writing. Enough of the blabbering for now and time for the recipe.

Note: To me, these buns are almost the same as Scones so maybe they are Irish Scones. The name comes from the fact that baking soda is used as the leavening agent. This uses buttermilk but since I did not have it at home I made a substitute for it. Refer to the end if you need to use a buttermilk substitute.

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Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour – 1 1/4 cup
  • Whole wheat flour – 3/4 cup
  • Sugar  – 1/4 cup
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 3/4 tsp
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Butter, cold and cut into small pieces or grated – 3 tbsp
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Butter milk – 2/3 cup + some more for brushing. For buttermilk substitution go to the end of  this post
  • Golden raisins – 2/3 cup, can use dried currents or cranberries
  • Caraway seeds – 1 1/2 tsp (as mentioned in the recipe though I did not use it)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a baking tray by lining it with a parchment paper or lightly greasing it with oil / butter. I udually use 2 layers of parchment paper as using only one it for me. Am not sure why but I use the one from Costco.Irish Soda Bread
  2. In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients – all purpose flour, wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk it well so that there are no lumps.
  3. Add the cut or grated butter and mix it well with a pastry cutter or two knives or using your fingers. Mix it well till all the flour is well incorporated and it looks like coarse crumbs. For better understanding check the method used in the Scones recipe.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk buttermilk and egg.
  5. Add the egg – buttermilk  mixture to the dry mixture, mix it lightly.Irish Soda Bread1
  6. Add the raisins or currents or cranberries and the caraway seeds (if using) and mix it till it combines into a moist dough. Do not over handle or over mix the dough.Irish Soda Bread2
  7. Sprinkle some flour onto a work surface and transfer the dough.
  8. Knead it lightly and pat it into a 1 inch thick round. Sprinkle some more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  9. You can either use the whole round for baking or cut them into small rounds and then bake. I preferred the latter one.Irish Soda Bread3
  10. Using a lightly floured cookie cutter (I did not have that so instead I used the rim of a wine glass) cut the dough into small rounds and place them on the baking tray.
  11. Gather the leftover dough, reform into a circle and cut again.
  12. You can also cut into small wedges (refer Scones recipe) and either bake them as it is or shape each wedge into a ball. Either way the tastes remain the same.
  13. Place the cut rounds or wedges onto the lined baking sheet spacing each a few inches apart. Ensure there is some spacing in between each bun as it will spread a little. Irish Soda Bread4
  14.  Using a lightly floured knife cut lightly a cross (‘X’) onto the top of each bun. Refer the pictures.
  15. Brush the top with buttermilk with a pastry brush. I did not have one I used a spoon to do so. This process is called ‘glazing’ and it helps the tops to brown while baking.
  16. At this stage if you want you can sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of each bun.  I forgot to sprinkle any sugar before baking, therefore I did it after they were baked. This is an optional step.
  17. Bake them in the preheated oven at 375 F for 15 – 18 minutes or until done. Mine took 12 mins to bake, but the time may vary from oven to oven. If you are not cutting the bread into smaller buns the baking time will be almost 45- 55 minutes.  The buns are done when a tooth pick inserted into it comes out clean. Remember the bread will keep cooking for some more time even when out of oven and onto a cooling rack so do not over bake it.
  18. Once done transfer it on a cooling rack. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  19. If baking a whole bread cut it into thin slices.
  20. Serve it with some butter or cream and enjoy!

Buttermilk Substitution: If you do not have buttermilk at home (like me) prepare the substitute as follows:

  • Using white vinegar: Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup. Add milk (little less than 1 cup) to the vinegar / lemon juice so that it reaches the 1 cup measure. Stir it and Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The milk will curdle lightly. Stir and use as much as your recipe calls for.
  • Using yogurt: – Add 2 tablespoons milk with enough plain yogurt to equal one cup.

Tea Sandwiches

Happy Teacher’s day ! To all those wonderful teachers who made school a memorable journey, who saw us through from confused high school pass outs to college grads/post grads etc. and mostly to moms and dads who from our birth teach us everything that we are capable of doing today!

I keep thinking what special can I have on Pam’s cookbook to mark this day. What does school remind me of? Simple fun-filled carefree days… and that reminds me of bread sandwiches… something that was a constant in my school life. Yes, me and my brother for years (at least till high school) have carried bread for ‘tiffin’, all different kinds of bread sandwiches. Bread butter with sugar granules, bread butter with salt and pepper, aloo sandwich, cucumber sandwich and many more. I guess mom must have been really happy with us for we never complained, but as I look back I wonder if secretly we were not a little bored of it!

Tomato (Finger) Sandwich
Even now, I am just not capable of having a heavy breakfast early in the morning. Most of the times we are munching on bread with tea.So this post is about the most common breakfast or snack – Tea Sandwiches. I made Green Chutney sandwich, Cucumber Sandwich and Tomato Sandwich. Am sure there can be more additions / variations to this, but for today this is it.
For Chicken Sandwich – click here
Ingredients:
I made 6 sandwiches – 2 of each kinds – Green chutney, Tomato and Cucumber
  • Bread (white or brown) – 2 slices for each kind, makes 2 sandwiches.
  • Salt – optional
  • Black Pepper – optional
For Green Chutney Sandwich: 
  • Coriander Chutney – 3 tbsp
  • Butter spread or cream cheese or mayonnaise – I used butter spread
  • Cucumber, very thinly sliced – 5-6 slices
Green Chutney Sandwich
For Cucumber Sandwich:
  • Butter spread or cream cheese or mayonnaise – I used butter spread
  • Cucumber, very thinly sliced – 5-6 slices
Cucumber Sandwich
For Tomato Sandwich:
  • Butter spread or cream cheese or mayonnaise – I used butter spread
  • Tomato – very thinly sliced – 5-6 slices
Tomato (Finger) Sandwich
Method:
  • Place the bread slices on the work surface. No need to toast them.
  • Spread butter, cream cheese or mayonnaise on both the slices. For Green chutney sandwich either spread a second layer of coriander chutney on the buttered slices or mix the butter along with the green chutney in a separate bowl and then spread the mixture onto both the slices.
  • Place the cucumber or tomato slices (do not overcrowd them) on one slice of bread.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper if required.
  • Place the other slice on top of it, so that the buttered surface goes inside.
  • Press it gently and using a sharp knife trim off the crusty edges on the four sides.
  • Cut diagonally once for large triangle sandwiches or twice for smaller triangles. These smaller triangles work best with the kids. Alternately cut lengthwise once to get rectangular, also called finger sandwiches or twice to get smaller square-ish ones.
  • Serve them with tea or coffee

Note:

  • Using cold bread or refrigerating the bread before use makes it easier to trim off the edges smoothly.
  • If making the sandwiches little ahead of time cover them with a damp kitchen towel. This keep the sandwiches fresh and moist.
  • When serving different kinds of tea sandwiches it is better to have more than one shape, that helps in easily distinguishing one from the other.  I usually make triangle cucumber sandwiches and finger sandwiches with tomatoes. Can also use different shaped cookie cutters for other shapes, specially for kids-parties.
Green Chutney Sandwich

Scones

Scone is a small Scottish bread pronounced as rhyming with “con” and “John” or as in US as rhyming with “cone” and “Joan”.

I first thought of making it when my applesauce experiment turned out to be really nice and I needed an accompaniment with it. Somehow Scones seemed like the best option and voila… the combination turned out to be the perfect Friday late afternoon snack along with a cup of coffee. They looked and smelled so gorgeous and my whole house smelled like a bakery. I made almost 8 of them and they were so filling we had it for 2 days. Now I can think of making it very often because it is easy, needs minimum preparation and can be made with ingredients readily available at home. So next time I have friends or family staying overnight I do intend to make it for breakfast. However they can be made beforehand and stored for later use. Even the dough can be frozen and baked as and when required. I made a basic (or cream if fresh cream is used instead of milk) scone recipe, but you can also add blueberries or chocolate chips as variations to this.

So get started and fill your kitchen with the flavor of fresh baking.

Ingredients:

  • Flour – 2 cups
  • Sugar – 1/4 cup or 50 gms (approx)
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Cold butter – 5 tbsp or 75 gms
  • Egg – 1
  • Vanilla – 1 tsp
  • Milk / Half & Half or Cream – a little less than 1/2 cup.
  • Flour – for sprinkling
  • Egg wash (mixture of egg with milk) or milk or cream – for glazing

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F with the oven rack in the middle. Line a baking tray or cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease it lightly.
  • In a bowl whisk together sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • Cut the cold butter into small pieces and blend it into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives or with fingertips. Alternatively (and that is precisely what I did) grate the cold butter using a sharp grater with large holes and blend it with the flour mixture with fingers. Mix well till it looks like coarse crumbs.
  • In a separate bowl mix together milk or half & half or cream with well beaten egg and vanilla.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix lightly till combined. Handle the dough lightly, do not over mix, do not knead the dough as done in a bread.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the work surface or kitchen slab and transfer the dough to it.
  • Pat it into a 1 inch thick round. If the dough is too sticky sprinkle some more flour on it.
  • Scones can be of various shapes. For round – use a lightly floured cookie cutter and cut the dough into rounds. Gather the remaining dough, reform into a circle and cut again. For wedges/triangles (I did not have a cookie cutter so I preferred the wedges) – Using a knife cut the round dough into 8 equal triangles.
  • Place the cut rounds or wedges onto the lined baking sheet spacing each a few inches apart.
  • Brush the top of the scones with egg wash or milk or cream with a pastry brush. Since I did not have one I used a spoon to do so. This process is called ‘glazing’ and it helps the tops to brown while baking.
  • Bake them in the preheated oven at 375 F for 15-18 mins. Mine took almost 12 mins to bake. Oven temperature and time may vary so adjust accordingly. The scones are done when a tooth pick inserted into the scone come out clean.
  • Once done, remove and transfer to a cooling rack or dish towel to cool down.
  • Serve them warm with cream or butter or jams.

Scones are best eaten fresh but also can be covered and stored for later use or can also be frozen.

Garlic bread

When we started experimenting with continental dishes, both me and my husband felt the need for a substitute for rice/roti. So initially we started buying different varieties of bread which can complement roasted veggies or soups or grilled chicken. In due course of time we started having Italian or Garlic bread quite frequently which in turn instigated my baking instincts. But to be honest, I really did not want to get into baking breads right now as that involves extra effort, extra ingredients and definitely additional baking pans. So we tried out making garlic bread with the normal bread/buns/bread rolls readily available at grocery stores and they turned out to be excellent. In fact Italian or French bread loafs will be perfect for this.

Very recently I made Garlic bread with the burger rolls and served them with thick chicken soup and roasted veggies. Voila I did win BBC’s approval all through the meal. Nothing pleases him more than pleasant surprises on his dinner plate.

Ingredients:

  • Bread, (any kind should do but a thick loaf of burger rolls do better than thin slices) –  I used 2 burger rolls which made 4 breads.
  • Butter (unsalted and softened) – 1/2 stick or 1/4th cup or 100gms or as required depending on the quantity of bread.
  • Garlic, either grated or smashed and minced – 2 large cloves (approximately) or as required.
  • Parsley, freshly chopped or dried – 3 tsp or as required
  • Dried Oregano/Basil – for seasoning (optional).

Method:

  • Preheat oven at 350F
  • Soften the butter at room temperature, mash it in a bowl.
  • Add grated garlic, parsley, oregano and basil seasonings (if desired). Do not use too much garlic or else the flavor becomes too strong.
  • Spread the butter and garlic mixture uniformly on the bread.
  • Heat in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately either as a side dish or appetizers.