Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Bread sticks

Recipe No: 7

For me there is nothing more enticing as the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven. Even though I make breads often, the thought of that warm end piece of fresh bread slathered with butter makes my mouth water. I started baking breads after I realized that how much my husband loves fresh baked breads. I found this recipe in an old, yellow page of a bread recipe book. I was amazed when I felt the texture of this bread when I first made this. It became one of my favorites fast…. Just like many others!! Now I use this basic recipe in a number of different ways.
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  • Yeast……………………2 teaspoons
  • Warm water………..2/3 cup
  • Salt……………………...3/4 teaspoon
  • Sugar....................1 Tablespoon
  • All purpose flour….2 cups
  • Shortening…………..1/4 cup
  • Oil…………………………A few drops
  • Egg……………………….1
  • Water…………………..1 Tablespoon
  • Sesame or Poppy seeds…2-3 Tablespoons
  • Melted butter……………1 Tablespoon
Method of Preparation
  1. In a big mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Cover and keep aside for 5 minutes for the yeast to activate. (If the mixture is frothy after 5 minutes then you are ready to proceed)
  2. To the yeast mixture, add salt, shortening, and 1 cup flour. Mix it till smooth.
  3. When it is mixed well add the rest of the flour and mix.
  4. Dump it onto a floured board or a clean counter top and knead until smooth about 5 minutes. If you have a stand mixer it works perfect.
  5. Add a few drops of oil in a large bowl and put the kneaded dough, turning once so that the whole dough is covered lightly with oil.
  6. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth n keep in a warm place till the dough doubles in size. (This depends on the atmospheric temperature. I keep it inside the oven and it will double in size in about 11/2 to 2 hours)
  7. When the dough is doubled, punch it down and divide it into eight to ten portions.
  8. Shape each of them into 6 inches long stripes.
  9. Place it on an oiled baking sheet. Cover it again with a moist kitchen towel allow to rest for 10 -15 minutes. It will rise a bit during this process which is also called proofing.
  10. Arrange two racks in the oven, one in the middle and one two rows below that.
  11.  Place a small oven proof bowl filled with 2 cups of water in the lower rack of the oven.
  12. With the water dish inside preheat the oven to 375°F or 190°C.
  13. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water. This is also called egg wash.
  14. Brush the top of the proofed bread sticks with the egg wash and sprinkle the sesame/ poppy seeds. The egg wash will give the top of the bread a beautiful color and also helps the seeds stick.
  15. Bake in the middle rack of the oven until the top of the bread is light brown. Don’t over bake. This will take around 18 minutes. (The inside temperature of the bread should be 190°F)
  16. When it comes out of the oven, brush the top with melted butter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes: Keeping the pan with water inside the oven throughout baking is important, as it gives a nice texture to the crust of the bread while keeping the inside soft.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness 
and serve it to your family with love....

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