6.30.2009

Bread Baking Day 21

Pizza Margherita

BreadBakingDay #21 - Pizza Party and giveaways for 2 years anniversary - last day of sumbission July 1stPizza has been chosen by Zorra from 1x umrühren bitte as topic of the month for the second anniversary edition of BreadBakingDay. As I hadn't made pizza before, I decided to play it safe with just a simple tomato and mozarella topping. Preparation of the dough is very easy. The tricky part begins when you have to transfer the pizza from the work surface to the paddle and then into the oven. Probably I didn't use enough flour and things got a little messy here, as you can see in the picture. But as making pizza turned out to be so easy, I sure will practice some more quite soon. I really liked the buffalo mozarella as a topping. Straight from the fridge it doesn't have any taste to speak of, but melted on top of a pizza it develops an interesting aroma a bit like a mild goat's cheese.

Pizza

Source: Dough by Richard Bertinet

Yields 3 pizzas.
Preparation: 15 minutes
1st rise: 1 hour (or overnight in fridge)
2nd rise: 10 minutes
Baking time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients:

15 g fresh yeast
500 g wheat flour (type 450)
10 g salt
50 g olive oil (50 ml)
320 g water
flour for dusting

Topping per pizza:

3/4 Tbsp tomato paste
100 g buffalo mozarella
fresh basil

Method:

Preheat oven to 250°C.
Rub yeast into flour as if preparing streusel. Add water,oil and salt and work into a dough. Knead until dough looses (most) of its stickyness. Let rise for one hour or overnight in the fridge.

Using a bench scraper, transfer dough to a well-floured work surface and divide into three equal pieces. Roll pieces into ball shape and let rise for 10 minutes. Put your hand or a rolling pin on top of a ball and push the dough into an oblong shape. Rotate dough and repeat pushing till the dough forms a 20-22 cm disk. (4-5 inches) The pizza should have a slight rim to keep in the sauce.

Put pizza on a well-floured paddle or sheet pan and spread the tomato paste on top. Add mozarella and basil. Transfer pizza into oven (preferably with a baking stone) and bake until rim is golden brown.

6.27.2009

Daring Baker June Challenge

Bakewell Tart er.. Pudding

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Posting Day for the June Challenge just materialized right in front of me out of thin air and some eleventh hour baking was in order. I managed to cut out three 10 cm tartelette bases from a half batch of the given recipe. The surplus was squeezed together to form a fourth base and the surplus from that became a nigiri sushi-style shortbread finger. For the filling I chose dulce de leche, which has lately become available under the (misleading) name of Caramel from Bonne Maman.

Caramel er.. Dulce de Leche

I didn't butter the tartelette molds as I figured the dough for the crust would contain enough butter already. But after cooling the tartelettes couldn't be persuaded to come out of their molds and I had to resort to using a knife, thereby loosing the undulating edge. The Bakewell Tarte was quite sweet but not unpleasantly so. Maybe one could use a slightly sour fruit jam (cherry seems to be quite popular with Daring Bakers) to balance the sweetness of the frangipane.

Thank You Jasmine and Annemarie for hosting this month's Challenge. Lots of tarts, puddings and other fabulous creations can be found at the Daring Bakers Blogroll.


Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

6.25.2009

Asparagus Bread

Asparagus Bread

Summer has arrived in full swing and the Bread Baking Babes prepare loafs of seasonal asparagus bread for their midsummer gathering at Lien's kitchen table. As I needed something to bring along to a bbq party with my co-workers I made a full batch and formed one big loaf. The bread received quite a number of favourable remarks. (We made some paella as a kinda group-building experience and I'm now officially known as "the guy who's good at chopping onions". :) ) I found the asparagus bits to be a bit bland compared to the bread dough. Next time I will be more generous with the salt while blanching. You should also put some flour on the underside of the loaf. My bread stuck to the countertop after the second rise and got a little out of shape.

I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.



Asparagus Bread with Parmesan Cheese and Walnuts
2 small loaves *

Source: Notitie van Lien; adapted from "Artisan Bread" by Jan Hedh

Ingredients:
125 g green asparagus
25-30 g rocket
50 g walnuts,
50 g freshly grated parmesan cheese
450 g strong bread flour **
(you can also use half whole wheat and half white or white whole wheat if you can get that)
12 g fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast
250-270 g water
25 g olive oil
10 g (sea) salt

* Formed one loaf.
** Used 370 g type 550 flour and 70 g spelt flour. (Just because I found myself staring at the bottom of a 2.5 kg bag of flour on a Friday evening.)

Boil 3/4 liter of water with a pinch of (sea) salt. Clean the asparagus, set two of them aside, cut the rest into 4 pieces. Boil these pieces for 2 minutes in the water, scoop them out (so you can use the water for the rocket as well) and rinse under cold water (to stop them cooking).
Put the rocket in the boiling water for a few seconds (until wilted), drain and rinse under cold water and drain again. Press the water our of the rocket, chop it coarsely and cut the asparagus into 1/4 inch (± 1 cm) long pieces, set aside. Crush the walnuts coarsely and grate the parmesan.

Measure the flour and yeast in a large bowl, mix in most of the water and knead for a few minutes (on low speed), add the olive oil and knead for 10-12 minutes. Add the salt and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes until very elastic. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Work the asparagus pieces, rocket, walnuts and parmesan in with care so that they're evenly distributed. The dough should be very souple and elastic, hence the long kneading time. For me the best way to incorporate all the ingredients is to spread the dough out into a large slap, sprinkle all the ingredients on and roll it up. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, press flat and fold... rest 5-10 minutes press flat and fold. Shape into rounds.
Place the dough in a greased container, cover and let rise for about 2 hrs.
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Make round balls, cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Flatten the balls and fold into taut breads with slightly tapering ends. Lay one asparagus in lengthwise in the middle of the bread and press in slightly. Sprinkle with wheat flour and cover to rise for 70 minutes or until doubled. Before baking you can sprinkle a little grated cheese on the bread if you like (optional).
Preheat the oven (preferably with stone) to 250°C. Place the loaves directly on the stone. Spray with water (or poor some hot water in a metal container on the bottom of the oven that you preheated to create steam) Lower the temperature after 5 minutes to 200°C. Open the door after another 10 minutes to let some air in. Repeat twice during baking. Bake for 40-45 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

6.18.2009

Asparagus Pasta

Asparagus Pasta

On to the next installment of fast week-night dishes. This time it's very seasonal asparagus pasta. Actually, there is not much to say about this dish. It's easy to make, it's tasty and that's about all. I guess posts about easy pasta dishes are getting a bit old. I'll try to come up with something different for my next subission to Ivonne's Magazine Mondays.

Just a quick word of advice: Mixing butter and oil as suggested in the recipe is not really a good idea as it causes quite a bit more spattering during frying compared to using each on its own. Better decide beforehand whether you want to go extra-tasty with butter or extra-healthy with olive oil.


Asparagus Pasta

Source: essen&trinken Für jeden Tag 06/09

Ingredients:

250 g green asparagus
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tomatoes *
200 g pasta
1 Tbsp butter **
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp mascarpone ***

* Used a handful of cocktail tomatoes.
** Used clarified butter.
*** Used 2 Tbsp ricotta and yoghurt each.

Serves 2.

Method:

Peel the lower third of the asparagus stems and cut away the ends. Chop diagonally into 1 cm pieces. Mince onion and garlic. Quarter, deseed and mince the tomatoes.*

Cook the pasta as per instructions on the package. Heat butter and oil in a pan. Saute asparagus for 4 minutes. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. Add onion and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserve 100 ml [half a glass] of the cooking water. Add water and mascarpone to the asparagus,stir and bring to a boil. Add tomatoe and season again as needed. Toss with the pasta and serve.

* I just quartered the cocktail tomatoes as they were quite firm and not watery.

6.16.2009

Wot ratatouille? Which teff flour wedges?

Wot with Teff Flour Wedges

A little while ago, back in April the Bread Baking Babes made Ethiopian Injera bread from teff flour and a whole array of condiments and stews as side dishes. When I saw some teff flour at a local health food store, I picked up a box mostly out of surprise that it was available so easily. However, I couldn't bring myself to go to all the trouble of making all those bits and pieces just for myself, so I tried to find some other use for the teff. (a recipe for teff waffles is given on the back of the box; maybe more on this at a later time) There is a recipe for polenta-style teff wedges in Heidi Swanson's Supernatural Cooking which seemed scaleable and easy to do. The important thing to note about this recipe (which I didn't recognize until typing up the recipe, maybe a week after making the wedges) is that it requires teff grains, not teff flour. But at the end of the day it doesn't really matter. Just add a bit more water to the teff flour and the wedges will come out fine. At least tastewise. As the dough will have a silky texture, the wedges will be difficult to keep in shape when you turn them around in the pan.

Detail of teff flour polenta after setting overnight in the fridge
(hence the glistening condensation on the top)


Instead of ratatouille with teff wedges, it would be more appropriate to call this dish wot with fried teff flour bits. Wot/ratatouille/vegetable stew. Whatever name you choose, it's just another case of concept cooking. The concept goes like this:

Go to the green market and buy vegetables which are fresh and in season.


Supplement with some shallots and garlic from the pantry and chop it up.


Sauté shallots and garlic, add other ingredients, deglaze with white wine/stock/water and simmer on low heat until done.


Grilled Polenta-Style Teff Wedges

Source: Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

6 cups water
1 tsp fine-grain seasalt, plus more as needed
2 cups brown teff grains
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp melted clarified butter or olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Line a backing sheet with parchment paper.

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan, then stir in the salt and the teff. Lower the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or the teff is the consistency of a thick, spreadable porridge. Stir in the parmesan and more salt to taste.

Spread the teff polenta to a 1-inch thickness on the prepared backing sheet, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and preferably for a few hours. You can protect it with a layer of plastic wrap after it sets up a bit.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. Use a large cookie cutter or a knife to cut the chilled polenta into uniform wedges and brush each with a bit of melted butter. Grill for a few minutes on each side, then season with salt and pepper.

6.11.2009

Beets with Tropical Flavours

Beets with Tropical Flavours

A short while ago, Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups posted a recipe for beet root salad, which brought beet roots onto my food radar (up to then I only knew store-bought beets from a glass, or as part of some stew-like dishes). When I found an easy recipe for beets with coconut milk and chilis in Mangoes & Curry Leaves, I put them on my shopping list.
(By the way, Mangoes & Curry Leaves is about as gorgeous a cook book as they come. The photography, the recipes and the writing (I'm not using adjectives here on purpose :) ) will let you come back to this book again and again. As it has the same dimensions as the Alinea cook book, I keep them on the same shelf in my book rack. But I always make sure to separate them by a half-inch sheet of lead, for fear of creating a foodporn black hole in my living room. ;) )

The recipe itself is pretty straightforward and would even qualify for a fast weeknight dish. At first glance the list of ingredients may seem a wee bit long but apart from the fresh beets it's pantry items all the way. The final dish is very tasty, the best thing being the sauce with a taste of coconut milk, chili, beet root flavour and a hint of vinegar. I had this as a main dish with some rustic bread, but one could also add maybe 2 cups of rice to turn it into a beets-coconut curry.

One final thought: If you want to blog about this dish (or any dish with beet roots for that matter), please do yourself a favour and use a non-white plate when taking pictures. ;)


Beets with Tropical Flavours

Source: Mangoes & Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound beets (3 to 4 medium), washed
Generous 1 Tblsp raw sesame oil or vegetable oil *
About 8 fresh or frozen curry leaves **
Scant 2 Tblsp minced seeded green cayenne chiles,
or substitute jalapenos
2 to 3 Tbsp minced shallots
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup canned or fresh coconut milk ***
1/4 cup water ***
About 1/2 tsp coarse salt (optional)

Method:

Peel the beets. (wear gloves to avoid staining your hands)

Cut into julienne strips about 1/4 inch wide and set aside. Place a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid on medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when it's hot, add 4 of the curry leaves, shallots and chilles. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beets, vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir and turn to mix well. Raise the heat to high and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes. The beets will give off a little liquid as they cook.

Mix half the coconutmilk with the water, then add to the pot and bring to a vigorous boil. Stir well, cover tightly, reduce the heat and cook at a strong simmer until the beets are just tender, about 20 minutes. Check the water level after 10 minutes and add some more as needed.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk and curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle on coarsesalt if you wish. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4.


* Used sunflower oil. (the olive oil of the eighties; Sorry, I've just been reading the first half of Molly Wizenbergs A Homemade Life and am in nostalgia mode.)

** Used some dried curry leaves, which I bought some months ago out of sheer curiosity. Not sure if they did add any flavour to the dish.

*** Used one 400ml can of 64% coconut milk.


6.09.2009

If you need a break from reading cook books...


As I went on a short vacation last week, I picked up this book by Walter Moers at the train station. The story revolves around Echo, a cat who can understand and speak the languages of all living things. Echo finds himself on the brink of starvation and signs a contract with the local witchmaster/inquisitor to feed him with the height of culinary delicacies for the next 30 days. However, on the next full moon the witchmaster will be allowed to kill Echo and render his fat for alchemistic purposes...

Like his previous three novels Der Schrecksenmeister is also set in the fantasy universe of Zamonia. Compared to Moers's other books (aside from Rumo, which I haven't read yet) this book has to take third place. But with über-strong competitors like City of Dreaming Books and Captain Bluebear that's no shame. The culinary aspect occurs as a pervasive theme in the plot, to make this book interesting for foodies who like their fantasy/escapist literature. With 380 pages it's conveniently short (as Walter Moers's novels go) for a holiday read. The blurb on the back cover makes a comparisson with the works of Joanne Rowling and Cornelia Funke, which might serve as a rough guideline if you want to give this book to young readers. However, I think at least the works of Rowling and Moers (haven't read anything by Cornelia Funke) are quite different. Rowling tells the classic coming-of-age story which draws a good deal of it's appeal and success from the easy identification of the reader with the hero(s).
Moers works remind me of Tales of the Arabian Nights. He likes to tell a story (and a story within a story), invents words and names and plays with them. (just a quick example: within the book the story is not referred to as a novel by Walter Moers, but as a translation of a great novel of an acclaimed poet of Zamonia) I like to think of Walter Moers as Jim Henson (the Muppets puppet master) with a MacBook. ;)

The book is an adaptation of a novel by Gottfried Keller. According to amazon.com the release date for the English edition of The Alchemaster's Apprentice is September 3rd.