Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls – My First Culinary Adventure of 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve spent today getting reacquainted with my baking spirits, which is always a worthwhile activity, even when it is stinking hot. And even when it’s not always appreciated by others.

And it was important that it happen today. You see, I am starting a new tradition. Okay, more like ‘borrowing’ and running with someone else’s tradition.

 

Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1

 

As some of you know, I bought Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries III when it first came out – no way was I risking that one on the Christmas list… what if no one bought it for me??? I would be bereft of Nigel…

So I had already read his entry for New Year’s Day, which he called Rising. In it, Nigel talks about how the new year comes to his kitchen quietly, with a pot of soup and freshly baked bread. He writes:

‘I like the notion of yeast rising, of new life in the kitchen on the first day of the New Year. Eccentric, daft even, but to me it just feels right.’

Is that not a glorious notion?

And I think that those with bakers’ souls will feel a certain affinity with this notion…

 

Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 2

 

Yeast rising in the kitchen on the first day of the new year can become a quite a compelling metaphor for an unbelievable number of different things, for an unbelievable number of different people. So don’t forget to make 2016 the best year you can for yourself.

And you can start by joining the fiesta party! Our hostess with the mostess, Angie @The Novice Gardener, and her lovely co-hosts – Judi @Cooking with Aunt JujuMolly @Frugal HausfrauSteffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen – are extending the party over the festive season, so come along and share your first dishes of 2016.

 

Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls

  • Servings: makes 6 rolls
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Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1

 

Ingredients

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 7g sachets instant dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 350ml water
  • 3 large sprigs of rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 100g goat’s cheese (cut into small chunks)

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add almost all the water and mix to a sticky dough.
  2. Continue to mix for a further minute or so – the dough will gradually become less sticky. Add a touch more flour or water until you are left with a dough that is soft and springy, yet slightly sticky to the touch.
  3. Flour a large work surface and gently knead the dough for 10 minutes without treating it aggressively. It should feel soft, smooth, light and springy.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to prove for an hour in a warm place.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it back onto a floured surface. Knead it again for 30 seconds.
  6. Work the rosemary and cheese into the dough so that they are evenly distributed.
  7. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and shape each piece into small rolls.
  8. Lay the rolls on a floured baking tray, leaving a good amount of space between them.
  9. Decorate each roll with a few rosemary needles on top.
  10. Leave to rise in a warm place under a tea towel for 45 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  12. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  13. Great as a burger bun. Fantastic eaten warm and slathered in butter.

 

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on BBC website.

 

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Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

As some of you know, I’ve been participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, trying to do the smaller homework assignments each night and then getting my bake on during the weekend.

The homework assignments have led to some mighty tasty baked goods, I must say, including choux pastry, which was turned into mushroom sandwiches; proper, time-consuming puff pastry, which became sweet and crispy allumettes; yeasted dough, which was almost effortlessly transformed into a stollen-like loaf full of dark chocolate, figs and walnuts.

I am not a novice baker, but I have found that the Baking School lessons are laden with information, history, chemical alchemy and tips and tricks that even the most qualified bakers out there would find useful. Although I want to take step back now that we’re coming up to the cake layering and decoration side of things… Still don’t see why I can’t just bake the goodies and leave the decorating to someone else… someone with a lot more patience…

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

A string of events forged a path to this bread. This bread had to be baked. And now.

It started with figs. It occurred to me that we were nearing the end of fig season and I had yet to cook with them. The Baking School lesson for Day 13 was rich yeast breads and sweet breads. I purchased and started reading A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, where, in the very first entry, he evocatively writes about his tradition of baking bread on New Year’s Day. Around the same time, he also published a sweet fig and dark chocolate loaf recipe in his column for The Guardian.

I may not have followed the homework assignment to the letter, but I made the bread that I was meant to make.

Oh and if you make this, do yourself a favour and have a slice while it’s still warm and the chocolate filling is still gooey. Trust me.

It may not be warm any longer because I am so late this week, but I’m bringing the few slices I haven’t eaten to the Fiesta Friday 91 party, joyfully co-hosted this week by Angie @The Novice Gardner, Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 50g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 7g easy bake yeast
  • 100ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 3 figs (roughly chopped)
  • 100g dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 40g golden sultanas
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Glaze

  • 50g butter
  • icing sugar

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, then leave to cool down. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cooled butter and the lightly beaten egg. Mix thoroughly – the dough will be soft and rather sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured board. As you knead, the dough will become less sticky, more like a bread dough. When it is soft, elastic and no longer sticking to the board, transfer to a floured bowl. Set aside in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, for a good hour.
  2. For the filling, break the cardamom pods and remove their black seeds. Crush the seeds to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice mill. Mix the figs, chocolate, walnut halves, sultanas, cinnamon together.
  3. Dust the work surface with flour and tip your risen dough on to it. Roll out into a rectangle about 24cm x 20cm. Place the longest side towards you and spread the fig filling over the dough, then roll up, swiss-roll style, to form a plump loaf shape. Lift onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and return to a warm place to prove for a further hour. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until pale gold. Melt the butter for the glaze and brush over the loaf. Cool on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian’s website.

Salad and Burrata Piadina Wraps

For a little over a year now, I have been waiting for quinces to come back into season so I can make a version of Philippa Sibley’s Hansel and Gretel dessert.

Last month, I bought some quinces and some apples, and I poached and I baked and I churned and I caramelised and I made a seriously tasty dessert.

But all those little notes, change and tips that we all make to recipes are messily scrawled across multiple bits of paper. Bits of paper that I do not have the time to transcribe at the moment.

You see, things are happening… things that require boxes, and tape and bubble wrap…

I have only done it twice, but I know that I do not like moving. It’s messy, dusty and my usual method of ordered chaos has disintegrated into pure disorganisation. I don’t think it helps that the cat jumps out at me from behind boxes like a ninja.

So, seeing as though the majority of my spare time is now devoted to boxing up my life, I offer you all not the beautifully poached quinces and apple crumble ice cream that has been the plan for two weeks now; instead, I present a quick (plus resting time!) and easy recipe that can be adapted according to your mood, cravings, time and whatever it is you have in the fridge.

Salad and Burrata Piadina

Piadina is Italy’s lesser-know flatbread, after pizza and focaccia, can be just as tasty – there’s a lot of bad pizza out there – and is much easier to make. It’s great as a snack or as a base to top with a variety of ingredients from cheeses to cold cuts to vegetables. I love them folded over and stuffed with pesto, rocket, tomato, avocado and lots of burrata.

And I promise to share the poached quinces and ice cream dessert very soon. But until then, grab a piadina and enjoy this week’s festivities at Fiesta Friday #76 with Angie @The Novice Gardener, who is this week encouraging all of us to slow down, pause, and to appreciate and value each other.

Salad and Burrata Piadina Wraps

  • Servings: makes 6 piadina
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Salad and Burrata Piadina

Ingredients

  • 500g plain flour (plus extra to dust)
  • 250ml milk
  • 100g vegetable oil (or half vegetable oil and half extra virgin olive oil, or lard or duck fat)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons pesto (your favourite kind is the best choice here)
  • 100g rocket (or any salad leaves)
  • 3 tomatoes (finely sliced)
  • 1 to 2 avocados (flesh sliced)
  • 1 burrata ball (sliced as neatly as possible)

Method

  1. Combine flour, milk, vegetable oil, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Divide the mixture into 6 balls and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each ball on a lightly floured work surface until 2mm thick.
  4. Heat a large frying pan or chargrill pan over medium heat and cook each flatbread for 2 minutes each side or until golden.
  5. Spread each piadina with a tablespoon of pesto, top with rocket, tomato, avocado and burrata, fold over and serve.

Recipe by Matteo Carboni via the SBS Food website.

Maple-Baked Nectarine Crostini with Mozzarella, Basil and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

How do we really feel about imported fruit and vegetables?

Do we really and truly buy fresh produce because we want to support the community and our local growers? Because it is better for us? Because it’s better quality? Because it’s the right thing to do?

Yep, these are all good reasons. Personally, I prefer to buy local produce so that I can cook seasonal meals, from the comfort foods of winter to the beautiful fruit-inspired summer mains and everything in between.

And to be perfectly honest, the wait for seasonal delicacies is part of the appeal.

Baked Nectarine Crostini

I did buy imported nectarines the other day. I saw them and instantly remembered all of the summer dishes that I never got around to making before the stone fruit season had come to an end.

They weren’t great like middle of the season nectarines, but they weren’t bad either. And since I knew I was going to bake them, I only felt the tiniest, teeniest bit guilty for buying imported fruit.

So, moral of the story, it’s pretty much in everyone’s best interest to buy fresh and local produce. But if it’s available, and it’s tasty, and you really, really want to make something, it’s okay to sometimes buy some imported goodies.

I’m sharing these baked nectarine crostinis with the Fiesta Friday #73 gang, created by Angie @The Novice Gardener, and this week co-hosted by the lovely Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and very sweet Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju.

Maple-Baked Nectarine Crostini with Mozzarella, Basil and Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

  • Servings: makes 8 crostini
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Baked Nectarine Crostini

Ingredients

  • 4 nectarines (stone removed, quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 8 pieces of sourdough bread
  • 2 fresh mozzarella balls (cut into 8 thick slices)
  • 8 large basil leaves
  • Raspberry balsamic vinegar to drizzle (or balsamic vinegar)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place the nectarine quarters cut side down in a baking dish, drizzle with maple syrup, and bake for 15 minutes or until just tender.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly toast the slices of sourdough.
  4. Top each piece of sourdough with a slice of mozzarella, a basil leaf and two pieces of baked nectarines. Drizzle with raspberry balsamic vinegar and serve warm.

French Onion Soup Toastie

Bloggers tend to be in one of two camps when it comes to posting recipes about sandwiches, toasties, jaffles, rolls, etc ad nauseam – ‘Yes, let’s all do it’, or ‘No, are you kidding? That’s not even a recipe’.

But ultimately, most people just start making one or two sandwich fillings again and again because they are:

  1. Really, really yummy
  2. You remember how to make it off the top of your head because you’ve made it so often and it’s really not that hard
  3. You just want to throw something quick together
  4. Your care factor that day is quickly approaching zero
  5. All or non of the above.

We all need new sandwich filling inspiration every now and then, right?

Right.

Moving on…

French Onion Soup Toastie

April may be Grilled Cheese month, but today is Grilled Cheese DAY; and even though I still maintain that you can’t go wrong with a cream cheese, cheddar and tomato toastie, I thought we’d need something a little more special to celebrate the day with.

There are heaps of variations of French onion soup toasties out there, but I like this one as I don’t always have wine on hand to deglaze the pan and it doesn’t require beef stock for flavour – I use some balsamic vinegar glaze that then creates a tangy caramel onion filling that pairs nicely with the melted emmental.

There will be no soggy bread croutons in soup around here!

French Onion Soup Toastie

  • Servings: makes 2 toasties
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French Onion Soup Toastie

Ingredients

  • 20g butter (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 brown onions (halved and then very finely sliced)
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves (loosely packed)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze*
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 100g emmental, gruyere or swiss cheese (finely grated)

Method

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a heavy-based pot with a lid and then add the oil. When starting to bubble, add the sliced onions and stir and agitate them continuously to separate the layers until the onions begin to sweat, about five minutes.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, add the thyme and salt, stir, then cover with the lid. Cook for at least 30 to 40 minutes, stirring the mixture every five minutes or so, until the onions turn a caramel colour and taste sweet. (Turning up the heat will burn, not caramelise the onions, so don’t try to rush the process.)
  3. When the onions are just about done, remove the lid, add the balsamic glaze to deglaze the pan and cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and the liquid has been reduced. Keep warm and set aside.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan and toast one side of each slice of bread. Flip the slices and top two of the bread slices evenly with cheese and then the onion mixture. When the cheese just begins to melt, flip them over to toast the other side and allow the cheese to fully melt.
  5. Remove from the pan, cut in half and serve immediately with a green salad.

* If you can’t find or don’t have balsamic vinegar glaze, you can use balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, but you may need to cook the onion for a bit longer to reduce the liquid.

Homemade Croissants

It’s croissant day, everyone!

I finally tackled croissants. They have been on my baking bucket list for a while now.

A long, long while.

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I have always loved croissants. I remember my family trying to entice me to try other bakery goodies when I was a kid, but I was always happiest biting into a crunchy croissant. Ecstatic even when there was time or the ability to toast them. Other than a bowl of mac and cheese on a stormy day, nothing is more comforting than a toasted cheese and tomato croissant…

Well, nothing was.

Biting into a homemade, fresh-from-the-oven croissant, where the outer crunch gives way to a still-warm, fluffy centre was quite a profound experience.

I recommend that every croissant lover makes them at least once in their lives.

Sure, you’ll be rolling and folding, and rolling and folding, and rolling and folding dough for a quite a while, maybe even days, but it’s worth the effort and the waiting.

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For my first foray into the world of croissants, I chose to go with David Lebovitz’s Whole Wheat Croissants recipe, mainly because you could not have a better teacher when it comes to pastry techniques, and partly because the recipe make 6 croissants, which is plenty for just me. However, I didn’t want my first croissant baking experience to be whole wheat, and since David’s notes mentioned that the recipe would work using all white flour, that is the only time I deviated from the recipe. Croissants are not difficult to make, they are just time consuming, and David has some beautiful instructional photos on his website of the rolling and folding steps.

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With the weekend fast approaching, why not extend croissant day and bake some fresh this weekend?

And we all know that croissants can be turned into delectable desserts, yes? We’re all nodding? If you need proof, just take a look at the caramel croissant pudding that’s up over at the New Recipe Night blog… You’re all in furious agreement now, aren’t you? Yes? I thought so…

So I humbly present these dessert-in-the-making offerings to Angie at The Novice Gardener and to all her co-hosts who help put together our Fiesta Friday parties.

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

Happy Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 everyone!

 

Homemade Croissants

  • Servings: makes 6 pastries
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David says: ‘Making croissants isn’t hard; one just needs to follow the steps, which are 1) Make the yeasted dough day in advance and let it sit overnight, 2) The next day, make 3 “turns” of the pastry at various intervals, then 3) Shape, proof, and bake the croissants. The most important thing is not to let the butter get too soft. So when rolling and folding the dough, work quickly to get it back in the refrigerator’.

Ingredients

  • 280g white bread flour (preferably) or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 160ml whole or low-fat milk, very slightly warmed
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 160g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

Method

Day 1

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the white and whole wheat flours. Prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with the milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or stir it together in a large bowl. Stir in about one-third of the flour mixture and let the mixture stand until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt, and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop a few times, just enough to bring it together into a cohesive ball, but do not over-knead. 10-15 seconds should do it.
  3. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. (Or for at least 6 hours.)

Day 2

  1. Put the cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until there are no lumps in the butter, about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, whack the butter with a rolling pin, turning it a few times, until it’s a cold paste.) Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the butter in the middle. Enclose the butter and shape it into a 10 by 8cm rectangle. Chill the butter for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured countertop, so it forms a diamond shape with four flaps – two on top, two on the bottom, leaving the dough raised a bit in the centre.
  3. Unwrap the chilled rectangle of butter and place it in the centre. Fold the flaps over the butter, sealing the butter completely, and whack the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the dough into a 30 by 22cm rectangle.
  4. Lift up one-third of the left side of the dough and fold it over the centre. Then lift the right side of the dough over the centre, to create a rectangle. Take the rolling pin and press down on the dough two times, making an X across it. Mark the dough with one dimple with your finger to remind you that you’ve made one ‘turn’, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Do the next turn of the dough the same way, rolling and folding the dough again, making 2 dimples with your finger in the dough, then chill it for another 45 to 60 minutes.

(The resting period between steps #4 and #5 can be longer in case you have other things to do. Feel free to let it rest a couple of hours between each turn. It’ll be fine.)

  1. Do the last turn and folding of the dough and let it chill for an hour. (The dough can be chilled overnight at this point, or frozen.)
  2. To shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop until it’s a 30 by 22cm rectangle. Trim the edges off with a sharp chef’s knife and cut the dough into 3 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 6 triangles. Take one triangle and roll to lengthen it to 28cm long. Starting at the wide end, roll the croissant up toward the point, not too-tightly. Set it point-side-up on the baking sheet and roll the rest of the croissants the same way.
  3. Cover the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), close it, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which will take 1 ½ to 2 hours. (If you wish, you can chill the rolled croissants overnight. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place, as indicated.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake the croissants for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. Some butter may seep out during baking, which is normal.

Recipe very, very slightly altered from David Lebovitz’s blog.

Paneer Frankie

The trick to street food at home? Make it family style! It’s also fun when there’s some assembly required too… messy, but fun.

A Frankie is essentially the Indian version of a wrap or a Mexican burrito. It was created by Amarjit Tibb, ‘a self-confessed foodie who used to run a salt refinery’. He came across Lebanese pita bread wraps in his travels, altered the type of flatbread, fillings and spices used to suit the Indian palate and opened his first Frankie outlet in Mumbai in 1969.

Nowadays there are many, many different recipes out there for Frankies, stuffed with an assortment of fillings; and what the vegetarian Frankie recipes seem to have in common is paneer.

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I’ve had a list of paneer recipes I’ve been meaning to try out, but it’s taken me a while to finally figure out that the difference between making ricotta from scratch and making paneer from scratch is pressing… but more on this when I actually have time to press it!

So you could say that paneer has been on my mind lately… And then Miss Fromage Homage asked us to pair cheese with fresh herbs for June’s Cheese, Please! challenge. What goes well with paneer? Coriander! So I figured I’d be a little cheeky… did you know that coriander is a herb when its leaves are used and a spice when its seeds are used?

Paneer Frankie

  • Servings: makes 6 frankies
  • Print

Frankie Paneer

Ingredients

  • 40g butter
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 long green chilli (finely chopped)
  • 450g paneer (cut into 2.5 cm cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon chaat masala spice*
  • 1 lime (zested and juiced)
  • 1 cup coriander leaves (roughly chopped, plus extra to serve)
  • 6 pieces paratha**

To Serve (optional):

  • 1 telegraph cucumber (cut into 12 batons)
  • 2 carrots (cut into 24 batons)
  • Red onion (thinly sliced)

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes or until the onion is lightly golden.
  2. Add the paneer and chaat masala and cook, tossing occasionally, for 4 minutes or until the paneer is golden.
  3. Add lime zest, lime juice and the coriander leaves and cook for a further 2 to 3 minute or until combined. Season with salt and pepper, top with extra coriander and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Heat or toast the paratha and serve with the herbed paneer, cucumber and carrot batons and raw red onion slices.

* Chaat masala is a sweet-sour spice from Indian food shops. Substitute equal quantities of garam masala and crushed coriander seeds.

** Paratha is a type of Indian flatbread. It is available from supermarkets in packets or in the frozen section of Indian food shops

Recipe from the SBS Food website.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Have you noticed that there is a negative side to food trends? Where the oh so last year dish that was raved about and declared divine is discarded for the new trend, fad, ingredient or flavour?

I recently overheard someone in a café complaining how smashed avocado is so passé, and yes, they used the word passé. Okay, so you can pretty much get a version of smashed avocado from any café these days, but so what? If it tastes good and you like it, why can’t you order it? Whatever happened to each to their own? Maybe loudly opinionated food snob whingers should become passé…

Smashed Avocados

And just the other day I read an article that argued that sourdough is so overused, and that our obsession with it is a fad that’s going to pass when ‘foodies’ decided it’s time to worship a new type of bread. There was no sense that the author had done any research on sourdough in the midst of the sweeping generalisations, otherwise they may have noticed that sourdough can be traced back to the California gold rush of 1849, if not back even further… 165 years is hardly ‘temporary’…

But how are bloggers different to hoity-toity café goers and reporters who tell you what you should and shouldn’t be eating? Isn’t one of the main ‘reasons’ for blogging to get your opinions out there?

Sure.

But as a general rule, food bloggers offer their opinions in quite an unassuming way, and usually by sharing their stories. They very rarely annoyingly parade their opinions about, loudly shoving them in your face and belittling you if you don’t automatically bow down and agree…

So, if there are past food trends that you still eat, even though they seem to have fallen out of favour, then more power to you and your culinary tastes!

Now onto more important things… like smashed avocado… This recipe is the basic starting block. Get the base mix to your liking and you can build the toppings from there, from a simple garnish of fresh herbs, chilli or dukkah, to basil and lemon juice-topped cherry tomatoes, to fried or poached eggs, with or without smoked salmon.

Oh, and in case sourdough just doesn’t do it for you, or you can’t get your hands on some, rye bread is a fantastic substitute for smashed avocado toasties.

Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Toast

Smashed Avocados

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe but firm avocados
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 100g Danish fetta
  • 4 slices of sourdough or light rye bread
  • 1 tablespoon of dukkah

Method

  1. Slice and halve the avocados, remove the pits and scoop the avocado flesh out into a medium bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, crumble in half of the fetta and mash roughly with a fork until just combined. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread until golden brown.
  4. When ready, scoop ¼ of the avocado mixture onto each slice of toast. Top with the remaining crumbled fetta and scatter with dukkah. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pumpkin, Pesto and Fetta Pull-Apart Bread

The smell of freshly baked bread has to be one of the better smells of the cooking world. And no, I’m not talking about the fake ‘fresh bread’ smell that some ‘restaurants’ manufacture to draw customers in.

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I’m talking about that little neighbourhood bakery where you can just smell the fact that everything is freshly cooked. I’m talking about that beautiful smell that draws you down the stairs to peek into the oven to see how your magical bread is coming along.

I’m talking about a smell so good that it makes up for having to smell dry yeast as it froths, foams and does its thing.

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For someone who enjoys baking, there aren’t many things better than baking bread in a spring air-filled kitchen with fresh cheese from the market waiting in the fridge, or in a cosy, oven-warmed winter kitchen with a bubbling soup on the stovetop.

But it can be a difficult journey, and many bakers develop a love-hate relationship with yeast, which looks innocuous, becomes a stinking volatile mess when mixed with a liquid.

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Just make sure your liquid is warm enough, and after the allotted time, if you don’t have a witch’s brew of frothed up, ready to make bread magically fluffy yeast, try again because it is so very worth the effort in the end.

So, thank you to Miss Angie over at The Novice Gardener for setting all of her Fiesta Fridaylings a yeast challenge for the very first Fiesta Friday Challenge.

”Fiesta

Pumpkin, Pesto and Fetta Pull-Apart

  • Servings: makes 1 loaf
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Pull-Apart Bread2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 7g sachet dry yeast
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g butternut pumpkin (peeled and cubed)
  • 18 fresh sage leaves (6 leaves thinly sliced, 12 leaves kept whole)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomato pesto
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • 100g fetta (crumbled)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place warm water, caster sugar and yeast in a bowl. Whisk with a fork until yeast has dissolved. Stand in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl with a little extra virgin olive oil and set aside.
  4. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Place the dough in the oil-greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  7. Combine the pumpkin with the thinly sliced sage and 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.
  8. When the dough has proved, punch it down gently and knead until smooth.
  9. Grease a 6cm-deep, 10cm x 20cm loaf pan well with butter or olive oil. Set aside.
  10. Roll dough out to a 15cm x 25cm rectangle. Spread the sundried tomato pesto over the dough and then scatter the cheddar cheese, cooked pumpkin and crumbled fetta over the top.
  11. Starting from a long side, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, cut it into 12 pieces and then shape each piece into a ball.
  12. Place half the balls of dough into the prepared loaf pan. Top each piece with a whole sage leaf. Place the remaining dough balls on top in an alternating pattern to fill the gaps and top with the remaining sage leaves.
  13. Cover with lightly greased cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in size.
  14. Meanwhile, preheat the over to 190°C.
  15. When read to bake, brush the dough top with the egg and bake for 30 minutes and golden brown on top.
  16. Tip, top side down, onto a wire rack to cool. Serve, warm, with a small bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

Inspired by Super Food Ideas magazine.

Maggie Beer’s Walnut Bread

Making yeast bread still freaks me out. It’s smelly and so many tiny little things could or could not happen that result in not necessarily a failure, but not exactly a success either…

This time though, following a recipe by the delightfully cute Maggie Beer, I baked beautiful bread that rose perfectly and tasted pretty good.

In fact, it tasted so good, still warm and slathered in butter, that I knew I had a great base for my blue cheese-inspired crostini… But more on that soon…

Image

 

Walnut Bread

Recipe by Maggie Beer, as found in her book, Maggie’s Christmas.

Ingredients

  • 250g walnuts
  • 180ml full-cream milk + 2 tablespoons extra
  • 15g fresh yeast (or 1 x 7g sachet or 1½ teaspoon  dried yeast)
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 200g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 100g wholemeal plain flour
  • 50g rye flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil (plus extra for greasing)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). To make the walnut bread, roast the walnuts on a baking tray for 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden, checking them frequently to make sure that they don’t burn. Wrap the walnuts in a clean tea towel, then rub to remove the skins. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat 180ml milk in a small heavy-based saucepan until lukewarm, then set aside.
  3. Mix the yeast, caster sugar and warm water in a small bowl, stirring to form a paste, then leave for 10 minutes or until foamy.
  4. Combine the flours with 2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, then stir in the walnut oil. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the centre of the flour mixture, and then add the yeast mixture.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the warm milk, mixing until it is incorporated and a soft dough forms. Add the walnuts.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured workbench and knead for 5 minutes. Brush the mixing bowl with a little more walnut oil and return the dough, rolling it around the bowl to coat with the oil. Place a piece of plastic film loosely over the surface of the dough, then set aside for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured workbench and knead for a minute or two, then shape into two 23cm x 10cm logs. Leave to rise again on a baking tray dusted with flour for 10 – 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional).
  9. Whisk together the egg white and 2 tablespoons milk and then brush over the surface of the dough.
  10. Bake the bread for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature at 180C fan-forced (200C conventional) an bake for another 15 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown and the bases sound hollow when tapped.
  11. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

 

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