Most of the Daring Bakers are familiar with my Bond stories but this is his first Appearance in The Daring Cooks although this is my second time doing a DC Challenge. This time, one of my good blogging buddies who is also a fellow Daring Baker - Deeba from Passionate About Baking makes a guest appearance in another sordid Bond story. Thanks for being a good sport and letting me write you into this post Deeba!
But first, a word from the host...
The 2010 February Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.
And now on to another chapter of Bond...
Bond tapped the toes of his shoes, irritably. It made no noise on the carpeted floor. He tried to loosen his collar but it wasn’t the tie that was too tight. More like his collar was too small for his neck. He glanced at his watch again. Twenty minutes had passed since he had last glanced at it. Bond wasn’t used to waiting. Not for this long anyway.
It was hot in the MI6 waiting room with the heating turned up on high to compensate for the freezing cold outside - London's worst winter in years. The heat contributed to his irritability. It was compounded by the fact that his back hurt. What was even worse was that Arsenal had just been knocked out of the bloody FA Cup.
What the hell was keeping M so bloody occupied that she had to make him, Commander Sir James Bond, Britain’s finest, wait outside for such a long time? Just then the door opened and M stormed out.
“There’s a problem James. In the Middle East.”
“Terrorists? Religious Extremists?” Bond queried, almost excitedly.
“Huh, Pain In The Ass? Who’s being a Pain In The Ass, M?” Bond countered.
“No, No, Bond. That’s not it.”
“Ummm where exactly does it hurt then M? Bond asked, with a hint of concern. Maybe her knickers were in a knot and that was causing her some pain. His eyes moved up to rest on M’s bounteous cleavage, almost bursting out of her dress. It wasn't that her dress was too small, more that her cleavage was just... well endowed so to speak.
“For God’s Sake Bond! Listen up." M had caught him staring at her cleavage and she had to admit it kind of got her excited. Nonetheless, there were more important matters at hand. She continued:
"The Middle Eastern countries have heard of our Western fondness for Pita Bread. Not only Pita but Hummus as well. They’ve cut off the entire supply lines out of the Middle East. America is affected as is the rest of Europe. To compound matters, there’s a gathering of Arab dignitaries in London and the Foreign Office has promised them a Mezze night.
“And you cant have a Mezze without Pita or Hummus!” James exclaimed, rather excitedly.
“Brilliant James. Right on the ball! Now off you go to see how you can make some Pita and Hummus. Better yet if you can do a Mezze. We don’t want any excuse for a diplomatic row just because of Mezze or rather a lack off. Run along now.” M dismissed Bond with a quick wave of her hand.
Bond watched her go, admiring her shapely behind in her tight skirt. He didn’t notice any Visible Panty Line and for a brief moment Bond wondered if M actually went Commando...
** **** **
Bond lay back on the bed. Sweat creased his brow and he was panting heavily. The Middle Eastern beauty beside him lay on her side, caressing his face, a soft smile of satisfaction on her own face. She picked up his hand and placed it on her naked breast.
“Another round perhaps James?” she teased.
Bond wanted to say yes. His spirit was definitely willing but the flesh was weak. Very weak actually. Age was definitely catching up with Bond.
“You know I would love to Darling, but duty calls and I have to try and make that Pita and then the Mezze.”
“I can help you out you know.” Ayesha smiled coyly, her hands tracing invisible patterns on Bond’s torso as she threw one naked leg over his thigh. "I have many talents."
“Yes, I do know that my dear but I really have to try and make the Pita on my own.”
“Well, let me help with the Hummus then.” Ayesha offered. “You do remember how much you loved my Hummus the last time you stopped over in Dubai.”
“How could I forget?” James mumbled as he got out of bed. Memories of his last visit to Dubai came flooding back to him. He had disguised himself as a Sheikh and stayed in the fancy Burj hotel. Ayesha had met him there and brought along some home made Hummus that she had spread all over her legs, right up to her thighs. Apparently it was good for her skin tone. After leaving it on for 10 mintues, she had asked Bond to help her remove the Hummus. James had never enjoyed Hummus so much in his life! He also had to admit that the skin tone of her legs was rather remarkable.
Bond shook his head to clear his mind and get things into perspective. James pulled on his clothes and made his way downstairs. The ingredients looked simple enough but as soon as he opened the pantry he realised he only had instant yeast and not regular yeast as the recipe stated.
Not to be flummoxed, he decided he would just use the instant yeast. He mixed it with the lukewarm water and then the flour. He followed the requirement to mix for 100 turns, causing his arms to get slightly tired.
It was time to let the dough proof and with his libido back in full swing, he bounded up the stairs to see if Ayesha was still willing. He found her sitting on the dressing table, applying some blush to her already beautiful face and sadly, fully clothed.
“Just need to pop out for a while James darling.” Ayesha leant in and gave him a soft kiss. “Try not to make too much of a mess – like your pants!”
Bond looked down and realised that his dark, nicely pressed pants were all covered in flour. He watched Ayesha walk out the door, her long shapely legs barely covered by a short skirt. James realised that most of his women seemed to leave him alone at home while they attended to some task or the other. Quite the reversal of roles.
Bond pouted and sulked.
After whiling away some time, almost two hours, he went back to the kitchen to check his dough. It was Alive! The dough was bubbling and almost hissing.
He quickly threw the salt over it and then some olive oil before adding more flour, a cup at a time until the dough was quite too stiff to stir. Bond tossed the dough into his trusty multi purpose mixer cum weapon that Q had invented for him and let the machine do it’s kneading magic.
James put the dough back into a bowl to let it rise again. Bond glanced at his watch and realised that it was only 1230 in the afternoon. He only needed to make the Pita for dinner that night for the Arabian function and he realised he had mistimed his whole approach.
Bond decided he would retard the rise by placing the dough in the fridge. He wasn’t sure how this would affect the outcome of the bread, but there really wasn’t any choice in the matter.
To kill time, Bond removed his medals and polished them. He wasn’t invited for the dinner but it was always good to keep his medals polished. One never knew when he may be invited to a full dress function.
“Mezze! Damn!” Bond announced to himself as he slapped his head. He didn’t just need Pita, he needed Hummus as well! He remembered that the lovely Ayesha had promised to make the Hummus but surely a Mezze couldn’t just have one dish...
He quietly pondered what would go well with Pita bread when one of his favourite Bollywood songs started playing on the radio - Hum Tum from the movie Bobby. Bond knew the lyrics to the opening stanza by heart.
[subtitles flash on the screen as Bond sings lyrics in blue]
Baahar se koi andar na aa sake
No one can come in from outside
Andar se koi baahar na jaa sake
and no one inside can go out
Socho kabhi aisa ho to kya ho
Imagine, if something like that happened, what would it be like?
Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho, aur chaabi kho jaaye
You and me, shut up in a room, and the key gets lost!
He smiled as he vividly remembered where he had first heard the song and why it meant so much to him. He was taken back to that rainy night in India where the rains were so bad that all aircraft were grounded and he was stranded at Delhi airport. That was when James had met Deeba, the oh so gorgeous British Airways ground crew. She had come sashaying over to him wearing a lovely Saree. Bond could never understand how so much material could still make a woman look so sexy. He was used to skimpy dresses and women showing off copious amounts of flesh. This however was a completely new experience for him. 6 yards of cloth and still this woman oozed sex… He wasn't quite sure what it was but she was simply fascinating. Maybe it was her doe like eyes; or perhaps that lilting Indian Accent that shook him like a martini (shaken, not stirred) never could; Perhaps it was the way the Saree accentuated all the right places…
“Mister Bond?” Deeba enquired. “Terribly sorry about the delay but British Airways has instructed me to take care of you.”
Bond’s eyes lit up. “Take care of me? Exactly how do you plan on doing that?”
“Now, now Mr Bond.” Deeba smiled, licking her lips softly as she did so. “I’m quite well aware of your reputation. I must have you know that we Indian women are not slaves to you Colonial Masters anymore.”
That statement made Bond desire her even more. His hand snaked out to grab her full hips to pull her toward him but before he reached her, his own hand was grasped by hers.
“Come come Mr Bond.” She said as she briskly pulled him into a room just off the airport concourse, closing the door and locking it quickly. “We must feed you.”
Bond sighed in rapturous pleasure. Sometimes good food was as good as sex. Or was it sex was as good as food? He wasn’t quite sure after that evening with Deeba. She had served him Chapati (a kind of flatbread) with Tarka Dhall . While eating his flatbread dipped in the rich Dhall, he had been completely enamoured by how sensual she looked just sitting in her Saree with her legs folded sideways.
The angle of her body caused her bosom to angle up sharply and he couldn't keep his eyes off her. Deeba ate with him and as she finished off her chapati, Bond pulled her Dhall covered hands toward him and slowly sucked her fingers clean.
"Ohhh Mr Bond! What are you doing?" she cried.
"I am Bond, James Bond. Famous British Agent and Lover, I do this to women and they love me for it." James replied confidently.
Six Yards of Saree material never came off so fast. Good sex WITH good food was definitely a winner! Who said they had to be separated? Each time Bond visited Delhi, he was greeted by Deeba and each time was even more pleasurable than the last. Sadly though, Deeba had eventually retired from the airlines and trips to Delhi were never quite the same again...
Bond snapped out of his reverie and decided he would make some Tarka Dhall to go along with the Pita. He would also serve some Green Salad together with the Pita as well as some Fried Breaded Chicken. He had a plan and the plan was working out well.
Ayesha returned home and proceeded to make the Hummus. Bond watched her, alternating between staring at her shapely legs and trying to peek under her short skirt as she made the Hummus. Just as she was grinding the chickpeas in the food processor, Bond snuggled up behind her.
“Oh James!” Ayesha cooed. “Is that your weapon or are you just happy to see me?”
Unfortunately for Bond, it was his gun that he had forgotten to remove from his pants pocket. There was a time, Bond thought to himself, that the words ‘your weapon’ had a completely different meaning…
Bond scowled and looked at his clock. It was time to make the Pita. The kitchen was a little crowded with Ayesha finishing off her Hummus but he cleared an area for him to work on. Bond turned on the oven to high to allow it to preheat. He quickly removed the gun from his pants pocket and placed it somewhere safe. A hot and crowded kitchen was certainly no place for a loaded gun.
He cut off a piece of dough and rolled it out, not quite being able to get a proper round shape. He followed the recipe and placed a baking tray in the bottom rack of the oven before throwing in the piece of dough. It didn’t rise. He left it in for a good 6 minutes but still nothing happened.
Groaning softly, Bond threw the piece of bread away and decided that perhaps his oven wasn’t hot enough. He moved the tray to the top rack as he rolled out another piece. This time the dough puffed up somewhat after about 4 minutes in the oven!
Bond quickly made the rest of the Pita bread and they all puffed up and produced beautiful pockets. Bond quartered them and sent them off to the Foreign Office together with the rest of the items making up the Mezze. He send M a coded message to say that his mission was a success and that the items had been delivered. He even sent her a picture to prove that the Pita had pockets.
After tidying up downstairs, James slowly climbed up the stairs. He was weary. His shoulders ached and his back was troubling him. He entered the bedroom and found Ayesha standing there. She was naked from head to toe with only a sheer veil across her face. She held a small bowl of Hummus in one hand.
"Happy Valentines Day,James!"
Bond put his hands on his hips and willed away the pain in his back.
“Ahh James Darling. I see that your weapon is back” cooed Ayesha...
*** *** ***
This was a most interesting challenge and The Lovely Wife got involved too! She absolutely adored the Hummus recipe. She has made Hummus before but this recipe was really tasty. She only made a small amount - I think she quartered the recipe but it was more than enough.
The Pita was interesting to say the least. Like a lot of the other Daring Challenges, this challenge was the sort of thing that I would never have attempted otherwise. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to make Pita but I reckon that the oven temparatures stated in the recipe are too low. Or maybe it was due to my retarded proof or maybe even my dough consistency wasn't correct. Nonetheless, I think a higher oven temperature would have worked better.
The Pita tasted really good on the day of baking but unfortunately doesnt keep very well. I stored some in the fridge overnight and heated some the next day for lunch. It was a tad hard after reheating but both my parents were still impressed with my Pita. They thought it was store bought - but then again, my parents are not terribly fussy - they eat anything! I do too, but I will complain a lot more!!
My favourite taste testers were not too pleased with the Mezze. I dont blame them when they had leftovers from lunch to eat that constituted of one of their favourite meals.
All in all, this was really fun and I'm glad I did it. Go check out the rest of the Blogosphere for more Daring Cooks posts. Oh, and Happy Valentines Day!
Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook
2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)
1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.
Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.
1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste
1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.