Challah Braided Bread (and variations…)

When my sisters and I were kids, my mom used to make us this delicious braided bread during our final exams. She’d put different fillings in each strand of the braid for each of us. It was so wonderful to sit at the dinner table and smell fresh bread baking in the bread machine while studying. Everything was wonderful except for the actual studying part, of course. Anyway, a few weeks back I went on a bread-making kick (read:¬†I decided I need to start studying for the GRE, which of course meant I needed a new obsession). These are just some of my Challah-related creations, including one that is braided with different fillings in each strand.

Here is a three strand, simple braided bread:

bread4

With filling, of course – Danish cheese and delicious berry jam that my sister made.

bread3

I was super happy with how gloriously easy it is to make impressive looking bread by braiding it. Way easier than getting my hair to stay in a simple three strand braid. Which of course prompted me to immediately make another loaf of bread, this time with four strands.

bread

Of course, I make the dough before checking to see what fillings I’d be able to muster up without venturing out into the cold outdoors (yay, Chicago!). After surveying the deepest darkest corners of both my cupboards and my fridge, I decide to just keep it simple… no fillings! Which then prompted french bread for breakfast the next morning…

bread2

Pictured here with thick cut bacon. Just because.

Here is the basic recipe I used to make the Challah.

Happy baking!

Why I make my own Japanese Curry Roux (and you should too!)

Japanese curry is one of my favorite comfort foods – growing up, my Mom often prepared it for me and my sisters. Recently, I’ve been battling with pre-packaged and readily prepared foods. Everything from frozen dinners to curry roux boxes. I have super mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I love how easy it is, how quickly dinner can be prepared, how great it is to not need to plan out my meals for the whole week. On the other hand I am really quite terrified of all the unpronounceable ingredients. What in the world is that stuff?! Plus, nothing¬†beats a home cooked meal. Anyway, all this led to my decision to make my own curry roux.

Just for comparison’s sake, I have compiled ingredients that go into pre-made curry roux vs. ingredients that go into homemade curry roux.

Premade (S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix):
wheat flour, edible oil (palm oil, canola oil), salt, sugar, curry powder, spices, colour: E150a, MSG, malic acid, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate.

Homemade:
flour, ghee, curry powder, garam masala, chili powder, salt

I didn’t do well in high school chemistry, but those last two ingredients sound pretty scary to me. Not sure what it is, but it’s definitely not something I regularly add to my food at home!

Making the roux was actually really simple!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons ghee or butter (use butter if you want to make roux blocks, because it will solidify better!)
1/4 c. flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder*
1 teaspoon ginger powder *
1 teaspoon chili powder (kenneth likes his curry spicy! add less for a milder curry)

*optional – I added extra because I love a bolder taste. Cumin and ginger powder should already be in your curry powder and garam masala mixes!

Directions:
Heat up butter over medium heat in pot. Add in flour and stir! Stir vigorously to ensure the bottom does not burn! After about 10 minutes the roux should turn a little bit brown. At this point, add in spices – stir to combine.

To make your curry, just follow the instructions that come on the box, but replace the roux with your homemade one! Stay tuned for step by step instructions for curry rice!

IMG_0199IMG_0200 IMG_0201
Stir roux vigorously!

IMG_0203
Finished product!