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End of sugarbowl

Hi all and thanks for reading this blog. I don’t actually post frequently enough to warrant a dedicated food blog any more, so future kitchen adventures and Daring Bakers exploits will be posted on my other blog, Relentless Abundance.

All the best
Lisa

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This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was set by Rosa from Rosa’s Yummy Yums. We made pizza. We tossed it in the air. It was deliciously thin-crusted and FUN. Daring Bakers we are!!!!

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups (607.5 g) unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup (60g) olive oil
1 3/4 Cups (420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter.  Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. I used readymade napolitana sauce. Max and Noah got ham and mushroom, and Lara and I got artichokes and grilled vegetables…

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Look here for everyone else’s achievements: http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/

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This month’s Daring Bakers challenge made Nikolai happy. Chocolate eclairs. Actually they made everyone happy. Who would not be made happy by one of these? Especially when the leftover chocolate sauce just goes on and on and on…

Chocolate profiteroles

Chocolate profiteroles

Now I have to admit I’d never heard of Pierre Hermé before this challenge. Who’s he, you ask? Well, if for those who are as ignorant as I am of pastry lore, he’s, like the god of French pastry. Strange, therefore, that his choux pastry recipe (as far as I could tell) takes some of the classic principles of French choux and adulterates them somewhat badly. The rules of this challenge stipulate that I use the Hermé recipe, so here’s the photo of the ones that I did using it:

Pierre Herme choux puffs

Pierre Herme choux puffs

Yes, well, you don’t need a thousand words on why I did another batch of choux pastry using the more classic French recipe (hot water, not hot milk; four eggs, not five). I found the PH recipe a bit too eggy, and (as you can see from the photo) somewhat un-puffy. The only variation I made on the challenge recipe was the shape – I just don’t like the shape of sausage shaped eclairs, so I did mine as big piped puffs. They went down a storm; I would make them every week if I could, and probably never get tired of them. And the unpuffy batch went into the freezer and has been turned into some pretty lovely goat-cheese and tomato canapés 🙂

It was hosted by Antonio Tahan and Meeta K and their choice of challenge went down a treat! I’ll post the link to the original recipe as soon as it’s up on the hosters’ blogs!!

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Every now and then, for a couple of days, or a week or two, I suddenly lose interest in food. I mean, I don’t lose my appetite. I still get hungry, but nothing holds much appeal. And I end up living on cheese on toast and apples, or junk food (cheese on toast and chocolate). Until I get my food mojo back again. This week has been one of those. Can’t seem to find any inspiration. Which is really a big bad pity, considering the brand new Ottolenghi recipe book sitting on the shelf waiting to be explored. Please will someone bring back my food mojo… or tell me what you do when yours goes missing…

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so this is why…

I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a few months. I think he’s the most delicious thing I’ve produced to date 🙂

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Another lovely gathering of the south-east London tribe girls, this time at my flat. We were a somewhat smaller gathering than usual, as Sarah’s still at home with new arrival Florence Belle (congratulations!!!!) and others had other commitments. But Elke, Iratxe, Anja and I managed to magic up a feast of felafel, pita breads, hummous, tzatziki and tehina, while little Irene, Ella and Lukas learned a few new things about chickpeas and vacuum cleaners…


Once you’ve soaked up a couple of bowlfuls of chickpeas, both hummous and felafel are wonderfully easy (and economical) things to make. For the effort involved, it’s worth having at least half a dozen people round – we made enough to feed four hungry adults and everyone took some home for their partners. This is food for crowds, preferably crowds that’ll help you clean the bits of ground-up chickpea and garlic and parsley off every kitchen surface. If you just have a craving for felafel for, say, one or two people, I’d say go along to Burrough Market or else to a decent Lebanese or any other middle Eastern restaurant and get them to make it for you…


Felafel

225 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
juice of half a lemon
about half a cup of cooking water from the chickpeas
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
vegetable oil for frying
1. Drain the chickpeas and wash well.

2. Blitz the chickpeas in a food processor with the baking powder, seasonings, garlic and parsley. Leave it for about half an hour for the flavours to mingle. You can leave it longer if you like – you can do up to this bit the day before, if you like.

3. Add just enough cooking water and flour to make a mixture that holds its shape when you make little balls. The trick to making the balls is to have a bowl of water on hand – wet your hands before forming each ball to prevent it from turning into a big sticky mess.

4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot. (The sides of the pot will help keep the oil from splattering everywhere, which happens when you use a frying pan. Though I was very glad Iratxe brought an apron!) Fry the balls in batches – about 4 minutes on each side – til they’re golden brown and crispy.

5. Drain on a kitchen towel to get the excess oil off. But the sooner you eat them the yummier they are… Try to wait til the pita breads are ready though!

Hummous

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight with 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste
juice of 1 (or 2 or 3) lemons, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
salt
about 1/2 cup olive oil or more
parsley

1. Rinse off the soaking water. Simmer the chickpeas on medium heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Put 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda into the cooking water (but NO salt, as salt will make the chickpeas tough). About halfway through the cooking, rinse the chickpeas well and replace the water with freshly boiled water from the kettle. When they’re cooked to soft and smashable, drain off the cooking water and keep some of it aside.

2. Let the cooked chickpeas cool. Cover with some fresh water. Rub them through your fingers to get most of the peels off. You don’t have to get them all off, but rubbing them gently should get lots off, and you can scoop them out of the water with a spoon or with your fingers. Then drain the whole lot again.

3. Blend up the chickpeas in a food processor (or with a hand blender) with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings. If it’s too thick, add a little cooking water. Keep tasting it and adding more seasoning til it rings your hummous chimes.

4. Serve in a nice bowl with more olive oil and finely chopped parsley sprinkled over.

Pita breads

4 cups white bread flour
1 tablespoon active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water

Punching down dough

2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Mix in about a cup or two of the flour to make a thick batter. Let it bubble up for a few minutes – 5 or 10 minutes should be fine.

2. Stir in the oil and salt. Gradually add the rest of the flour.

3. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes til the dough is smooth and elastic. Set it aside for about 1 1/2 hours until it’s doubled in size.

4. Punch down the dough, and knead it a little more. Then roll it out into a rope and break it into 9 or 10 pieces. Each ball should be about the size of a tangerine – roll them out into flat discs about 4 mm thick. D

ust with flour so they won’t stick to the baking tray.

5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Also preheat the baking tray. Bake the pitas for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. They should puff up with air in the middle.

Tzatziki (subject to corrections by Elke!)

Mix up some yogurt with grated cucumber and salt and lemon juice!

Tahina (yogurt and sesame dressing)

Mix up a few spoonfuls of tahini (sesame paste) into about a cup of yogurt. Squeeze in some lemon juice and lots of chopped parsley. Thin it down with a bit of water til its the consistency of a creamy dressing.

Israeli salad

chopped tomato, cucumber, cabbage, and onion (if you like)

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Coming soon…

an account of the wonderful German feast we cooked up at Anja’s house yesterday, starring magical Green Sauce and homemade pretzels! Watch this space…

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