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
  • Print

 

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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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.

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.

 

Quick Cheese Bread – My Love Affair with BallaVitano Cheese

I was going to post a different recipe today, but I just finished baking and eating a quick cheese bread. The sweet, cheesy smell is still lingering in the air and I’m actually trying very hard to not go back for more, unlike some people…

Last month, I came across the BellaVitano range of cheeses by Sartori. They are a sweet, parmesan-cheddar hybrid with edible, flavoured rinds, and they are quickly becoming an obsession of mine.

There are seven or so cheese in the BellaVitano range, but I’ve only tasted three of them. The espresso features a smoky coffee rind, the balsamic is dipped in Modena balsamic vinegar, and the raspberry is soaked in New Glarus Raspberry Tart Ale.

I’m not sure I would ever cook with the espresso cheese, it’s just too tasty on its own. As is the raspberry, but I can also see this cheese becoming a star in certain recipes… that is, if I can ever get my hands on it again…

The Balsamic BellaVitano on the other hand is just perfect for adding to recipes you would usually use a mild cheddar for, and it brings with it a creamy, tangy sweetness that is just perfect for bread.

Yes, I acknowledge that there is a fair amount of sugar in this bread, and yes, the balsamic cheese is sweet as well, but I promise that it is not cloyingly sweet. But then again, it depends on what you plan to do with the bread.

So far this morning, I have served it hot with butter, warm with cream cheese and toasted, with additional slices of Balsamic BellaVitano and sliced tomato. As tasty and rich as it was toasted, it was beautiful with real butter.

I can imagine it being a great dipping bread for herbed oils or a balsamic vinegar and olive oil sauce. It would also be a great bread to serve with a nice, thick soup. But I believe it would be best as a bread served with a cheese board with fruit pastes, nuts and wine.

Quick Cheese Bread

P1070518cropped

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup Balsamic BellaVitano cheese* (shredded)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Butter for greasing

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Lightly grease a 23cm x 13cm loaf tin with butter and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and thyme. Using a metal spatula, stir gently to mix.
  4. In a separate large bowl, add the egg, milk and vegetable oil and beat to combine.
  5. Add the cheese to the flour mixture, and than working very quickly, add all the dry ingredients into the egg and milk mixture.
  6. Stir with a metal spatula until just combined and moistened – do not over mix, and lumps are okay in this quick bread.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared loaf tin, tap the tin on counter to burst and trapped air and immediately place in the middle shelf of the preheated oven.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a metal skewer comes out clean and the bread is golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack slightly before attempting to cut into it.

Note: Feed the Piglet… has great advice and tips for baking quick breads, not to mention fantastic quick bread recipes.

* If are unable to find Balsamic BellaVitano cheese, or you don’t want to, a mild cheddar would work just as well in its place. Perhaps a few drops of balsamic vinegar added to the wet ingredients before mixing might create the same results… Let me know if you try this out.

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