London. Home away from home. Perhaps because I've been there more times than I remember or because it was my first trip on my own when I was 15 or because I've lived there for an extended period, London does feel like home to me. My first time was a wonderful adventure (tell you all about it someday!) half a life ago, my last just 4 months back when I flew to London by myself for the Wimbledon semifinals to meet my friend N. - my all-time partner for the tennis - and stay with her and her adorable family for a couple of days.
N. and I became friends years ago. We've been to Wimbledon together a zillion times. Ages ago, I had my first Cream Tea at the Pergola Cafe when pouring rain suspended play (which is something that happens at Wimbledon like... all the time!), and since then when I think of Wimbly, it's not strawberries & cream or Pimm's that come to mind but - you've guessed it - Cream Tea. The Pergola was moved last year to a different location because of works. Both me and N. hated the cold metal chairs and the open-spaced lounge, the tea served in paper-cups and the soulless place. This year, the Pergola was back to its original being, I had my cream tea in the outside wooden chairs in a proper china cup. Even the rain stopped, and the sun made its appearance. Oh perfection!
Mr. Taster and I are leaving for an extended weekend in London. Umbrellas, Rothko's tickets, and a rainy forecast. We're set to go.
Adapted from Bill Granger, Bill's Food
1 Tbsp icing (confectioners') sugar
310 grams (2 1/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
250 ml (1 cup) milk
30 grams (1 oz) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas7. Sift the icing sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the milk and butter, and stir to combine. Knead quickly and lightly until smooth, and then press out onto a floured surface.
Use a glass to cut out rounds roughly 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter and 3 cm (1,25inches) deep and place them on a greased baking tray. Gather the scraps together, lightly knead again, then cut out more rounds. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Cream Tea is originally served with clotted cream, which we don't have in Portugal. I served mine with Duchy's Blood Orange Marmalade (that N. sneaked into my bag in the airport), and butter. Duchy Originals is a great brand, and an old favourite of mine.
Pizza! Let me rephrase it: THE pizza. I'm pretty sure there's some Italian blood in my veins. Not that I have any proofs of this, but I love all Italian food, from pasta to desserts - not to mention pizza. When Rosa, our host for the month, chose pizza, I was thrilled about it. Rosa also asked for a photo of each of us tossing the dough. Unfortunately, I could find anyone to make the photo but I can tell you tossing was probably the best part!!
Roasted Tomato and Bell Pepper Pizza
I used some roasted garlic - mashed and spread on the crust - and slow roasted tomatoes, combined with red and green bell peppers. Added some mozzarella, oregano, and fresh basil.
BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
Adapted from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 4-6 pizza crusts
For the dough:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) ice cold water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl or stand mixer. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (spoon or paddle attachment) to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it is too wet, add a little flour and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
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. If 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.
Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. Cut the dough into 4-6 equal pieces. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. 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 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.
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. 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.
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). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Take 1 piece and 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.
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.
When the dough has the shape you want, 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. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.
My thoughts on the challenge:
- This recipe is definitely a keeper.
- The dough was a breeze to make. Mine worked great using the mixer.
- Tossing the dough was great fun, and frankly not that difficult. I'll never roll out another pizza crust.
- As I still have some frozen dough for another 4 pizza crusts, I'll try a sweet version... Thinking of chocolate and banana!
Check out all the other Daring Bakers Pizza creations at the blogroll.
Why do I make the choices I do about my cooking and baking? Research, thinking, personal taste - 90% work, 10% inspiration. Of course, each recipe has a story behind. And I don't always work it that much! It's just my designer's mind, and method, taking over. If we're talking about ice cream flavours, you're allowed to choose 'vanilla' just because. But if you're discussing a project with me that just won't do! I'd love to have years to live as I've repeated these couple of sentences to my students. Because that would mean a very long life for me! Training young people to become designers is not always an easy task but can be quite rewarding.
All this talk? Bordeaux chose a challenging theme to the 23rd edition of Hay hay it's Donna Day: Yoghurt. My first compulsion was to make stracciatella yoghurt. Then I thought, why stracciatella? Er... just because. And it didn't feel right! The choice you make about something can be just a gut feeling. But you have to know why you choose what you choose. Enough cheap talking! Bear with me, I had a tough week at work. ;-)
Pomegranate Yoghurt with Toasted Pistachios
Slightly adapted from Donna's recipe, via Marita Says
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar (or a little less depending on how sweet the pomegranate is)
1 cup chilled plain yogurt
1 cup chilled cream
Prepare a syrup by placing the juice, and sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let it simmer for another 4 minutes and then let it stand for another 5. When the syrup has cooled, add it together with the other ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy.
Serve with pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios (about 2 Tbps of each per person or to taste).
Use an old apron to work with pomegranates. If possible work outdoors. (You'll want to remember this. Pomegranate stains are FOREVER!)
Check how to peel and seed a pomegranate here.
For the juice, I used a very large pomegranate. Scoop out the pomegranate seeds with a spoon. Place them in a cloth bag and squeeze out the juice. Strain the juice through a second cloth bag. If you don't have enough juice for the recipe, add a bit of water to the leftover pulp, and adjust the sugar.
To toast the pistachios, place in a dry skillet large enough so they are in one layer, over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan often, until nuts start to darken, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly before using. Chop.
This is my entry for this round of Hay Hay it’s Donna Day, an event originally created by Barbara of Winos and Foodies and now taken under the wings of Bron Marshall.
I'm not much into beer. To be completely honest, I totally fail to understand how some people love beer. If not for the occasional Guinness Stout, I'd live happily without such thing... But I've recently found out that I LOVE barley. Since I tried it for the first time in Slovenia, and after my minestrone, I became quite fond of this grain. This salad is a breeze to make if you already cooked the barley - which can be done in larger amounts, and kept in the fridge - and roasted the pumpkin (with a drizzle of olive oil, and a bay leaf) - again very convenient to bake large quantities.
Spinach Barley Salad with Feta
1 cup barley, cooked
1 cup roasted pumpkin, cut into wedges
2 cups fresh spinach
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 hard boiled egg, quartered
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the spinach. Sautée for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Stir in the freshly ground nutmeg. Season with a pinch of salt.
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
ground black pepper, to taste
3 tps extra-virgin olive oil
In a large serving bowl, whisk the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, beating until smooth. Add the barley and the remaining salad ingredients (except the egg), and toss to coat with the dressing. Add the egg, and extra pepper if necessary. Serve.
Although I bake bread almost every week, it has been a while since I've blogged about bread. The last one was a somewhat tropical bread with cocoa and cinnamon, that I often bake around here. As I mentioned in other posts, bread is a family thing. Both my grandmothers were talented bakers, either by choice, by chance or simple need. Bread flour bags, large terracotta bowls, immaculate white sheets and wooden trays are part of my childhood memories, when my grandma use to bake a weekly bread batch in a wooden oven she had at the end of the backyard. I vividly remember those days as being truly emotive and messy. Saturday was the day we'd make small cakes using the dough leftovers, roast vegetables and bake sardines in olive oil "to take advantage of the oven", and beautiful breads to feed us throughout the week.
Every time I bake some bread I re-live those Saturdays with grandma - it works both as therapy and meditation whilst kneading, punching and shaping the dough. Me with myself, and the dough. It's the same ritual every Sunday, and, boy, do I love it. There's nothing better than bread!
Whole Wheat Milk Bread with Raisins
Makes 2 loafs
3 1/4 cups (500 grs) whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup (250 grs) bread flour, extra to dust
2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 cup (375 ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 grs) salted butter, extra to brush
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (75 grs) raisins, or more to taste
In a saucepan, heat milk, butter, and sugar until melted and combined. Remove from heat. Allow to cool. Mix in the beaten eggs. Add the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flours with the yeast. Make a hole in the middle. Add the milk mixture mixing with a fork (if using a stand mixer, pour the milk slowly and steadily while mixing, with the hook attachment). Work the dough for 10 minutes or until it's elastic and doesn't stick too much to your fingers (or to the bowl of the stand mixer). Add extra bread flour if the dough is too wet and sticky. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm, dry place for 1 hour or until it doubles in size. Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted surface, and punch it. Set aside for a couple of minutes to rest. Work the dough for another 5 minutes, slowly incorporating the raisins whilst you knead. Prepare 2 loaf pans, buttered and dusted. Divide the dough in 2, and each half in 4 round shaped parts. Place 4 dough balls into each loaf pan. With scissors or a sharp knife, slice the top of each ball lengthwise. Cover, and let rise again for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Use a pizza stone or some bricks in the oven. To create some steam, carefully pour some boiling water over ice cubes in a large heatproof plate. Place it in the bottom of your oven. Brush the bread generously with melted butter. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on a rack.
Today is World Bread Day'08, a fantastic initiative to celebrate - what I personally think is - the best food in the entire world: bread, of course!. This is my contribute to this lovely day, the 3rd World Bread Day is brilliantly organized by Zorra.
Our holidays at the seaside are, we may say, 'peculiar' thanks to one of us (moi) who clearly has a bad relationship with the sun. Because of that, we end up making up programs away from the beach for the hot summer afternoons. Whilst other mortal beings improve their tan (and the risk for skin cancer...), this 'solar weirdo' visits exhibitions dragging her poor (and pale) husband.
It was an August afternoon when we sailed to the city to a World Press Foto exhibition in the middle of Algarve. It was destiny that at the marina, not far from the exhibition area, a book sale was taking place... Oh no! Books are a shared addiction/passion. We made it there, naturally. Mr. Taster soon found a couple of fiction books he was looking for. I opened and closed a cookbook in blue covered with lemons. Buy it. My shelves are packed. I have half a dozen french cuisine cookbooks. Take the book. It's heavy... I've put the book back. Only to reach for it, and to place it back again. And once more. Again and again. I've been put out of my misery when my partner of many fights and little sunshine, grabbed the book on his way to checkout, and gently pushed me to the way out. My laugh is still echoing in the tent! The book? It found a place on the top shelf pushing a stack of Saveurs magazines to the living room...
Tian* de Pommes
Adapted from Gui Gedda and Marie-Pierre Moine, Sabores da Provença, Editora Civilização.
6 (small) red apples, unpeeled and cored
75 grs unsalted butter, extra to butter the ramekins
100 ml whole milk, cold
200 ml pouring or single cream
100 grs almond meal
1 Tbsp cornmeal
4 (medium) eggs
3 Tbsp caster sugar, , extra to dust the ramekins
powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven 200ºC. Halve the cored apples, and slice thinly.
Melt the butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced apples. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring carefully not to break the slices. Remove from heat. Seat aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, cream, almond and cornmeal. Mix in the eggs and the sugar. Beat just until combined. Add the apples.
Butter a large ovenproof dish (or 6-8 individual ramekins) and dust with sugar. Pour the batter evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes if using individual ramekins or 45 minutes if using a large dish.
Dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
* Tian is a terracotta dish that can have many shapes: oval, rectangular or round; gratins made this way can be sweet or savoury, and are called tians.
What do you do when tons of tomatoes hit your doorstep? Well, first of all, say 'Thank You' - that part is important because it's what you should do when you get a present. The vision of melt-in-the-mouth sweet juicy delicious tomatoes, plus a zillion vibrant red possibilities, got to me. I smiled, grabbed the baskets, and entered my kitchen with a mind full of ideas. I totally forgot about thanking. Fortunately, I realized soon enough to call back and apologize. It's all right, your happy face said it all!! I'm an open book when it comes to food!
Slow roasted tomatoes are good on their on, in a salad, a tart or pasta, to make a sauce or soup. I specially love them in a tomato sauce, blend with a couple of fresh basil leaves. YAM!
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
12-14 medium/large tomatoes, cored and quartered
6-8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp sugar
dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
pinch dry basil (optional)
Preheat oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Place the tomatoes and the garlic cloves in a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sugar and dry basil. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until dried-up. Peel the garlic cloves, and mash. Use it together with the tomatoes.
Store in the fridge in a jar with extra olive oil, if necessary. Use within a week.