Baking | Roasted Garlic Foccacia … & a salute to the ‘Fukushima 50′!

“All sorrows are  less with bread.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Roasted Garlic FocacciaIs it just me, or does time really seem to crawl when you want life to get back to normal? Japan is still battling its worse ever crisis, the world looks on with fingers crossed, living in hope that things will get better. Hope rests on unlikely heroes, a band of brothers who work tirelessly round the clock with strength and resilience, reflecting the true spirit of the nation they belong to. The Fukushima 50, the bravest of the brave, put their lives on hold while they battle radiation risks to save impending disaster. The world salutes your spirit!Roasted Garlic FoccaciaAs my mind is overtaken by thoughts of Japan, the bread I post today is simple yet comforting,  a good classic bread with deep taste.  A few days ago, I had this obsessive desire to bake bread. The weather here is changing, warming up rather quickly, an indication that bread baking days are back again.Roasted Garlic FoccaciaOften I forget to begin the bread process the previous evening; just don’t plan right. It’s such a bother! I’d had focaccia on my mind for a few days. That morning, leafing through my cookbooks and recipes {including Ottolenghi & Peter Reinhart}, figured I was late for the poolish again. Poolish is like a starter, a mother dough, and is also referred to as a pre-ferment or biga. Roasted Garlic FoccaciaYet, bread I HAD to bake! The insane idea didn’t want to leave my head, so it was back to the net,  proving for the  infinite time that net dependency is something that isn’t easy to shake off! One of the first matches for ‘same day focaccia ‘ led me to Pease-Pudding! What’s not to love about the name? One step into the delicious blog and it was time to bookmark. Pease-Pudding is hosted by a North English lass who lives in New Zealand. She loves peas and she loves pudding, has a passion for desserts, hence the name.Roasted Garlic FoccaciaOf the bread she said on her post, “I have made the bread three times now and each time it turns out perfect. The difference with this dough is that it is more like a wet poolishand not one you knead.”  We absolutely loved the focaccia. The crust and texture of both the inside and the outside were addictive. It was obvious why she had made it thrice in a week. I would too!!Roasted Garlic Foccacia A handsome splash of extra virgin olive oil, a couple of heads of roasted garlic in the dough, a sprinkling of fresh oregano, sea salt & more garlic on top. I couldn’t have asked for better, more  comforting bread! It’s simple, is ready to bake in a couple of hours, and the olive oil lavished on top gives it a beautiful crust. Not sure if the addition of vital gluten had anything to do with it, but the insides were airy, light and delightfully chewy. 

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

DRIED CRANBERRY & WALNUT BREAD from Ottolenghi for BBD, with Roasted Bell Pepper Pasta

“Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words. Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name.”
…from a café sign

Yay…finally managed to bake bread. No mean task these days. We live in the so called millennium city, but have suffered unannounced power outages this winter from 4 hours to 6 hours daily, sometimes even more. It’s bad enough for a daily routine, but spells desperate times for the baker in me.
But bread I had to bake for Jamie who is hosting Zorra of Kochtopf’s Bread Baking Day #26. Bake something special for Jamie’s special BBD theme -“Baking Bread for a Birthday Party”! How could I go to her birthday empty handed? So began the search for a suitable bread!

Didn’t have to look far because my current obsession made me reach out for Ottolenghi… a book that is possibly the best & most used one that I own. The fact that Jamie also has the same book, adds to the connect. {Add Hilda & Meeta to this explosive package, & you have the Ottelenghi sistah’s!! YAY}.

My attention was held by the Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick. I just had to make this. The pictures in the book are moreish. Bread that called my name because it looked so artisanal. Fitted in with my ‘Ten in 10′ resolution too… as it had healthy flours in it! Of course we have very limited flour varieities available here, so I substituted a bit here & there. Was thrilled to see buckwheat flour in the ingredients. I had buckwheat!! Yippee…
The Ottolenghi bread is much darker in the picture cause they use country brown flour. I used a combination of all purpose, whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Didn’t have sour cherries so used dried cranberries instead. The bread was wonderful. I made it over a 2 day period. Did the first rise & kept it in the fridge overnight to get a quick start the next morning. Worked fine, though I think warmer weather will give me a lighter, more airier crumb & texture. Can’t wait to try it again!
It tasted like an artisanal bread, full of deep wonderful flavours, the sweetness of the cranberries coming out beautifully with the nutty walnut. Also tasted quite like the artisan bread Jamie & I had with our sweet potato soup at The Natural Kitchen in London. I knew she was going to love this bread…so here it is for her, with flowers!! Happy Birthday twin sistah!

Dried Cranberry & Walnut Stick
adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick, Ottolenghi – The Cookbook
160ml lukewarm water (not more than 30C; I used a little extra)
2 1/4 tsp tightly packed fresh yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
40ml orange juice (from about 1 large orange)
200gm plain flour
50gm whole wheat flour
65g buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
50g dried cranberries (or sour cherries)
50 gms walnuts, roughly broken up into pieces
Oil to oil bowl

Method:

Put the yeast into the warm water & stand for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice, olive oil & salt. Stir to mix well.
Mix the flours together in a big bowl, and knead with yeast mixture for 8-10 minutes into a smooth and silky dough, adding a little more water if required. Knead in the cranberries & walnuts. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap & leave in a warm place to double.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Trying not to beat too much risen air out, pull the edges so that they all met in the centre to form a puffed round cushion shape.Using a long object, divide the dough into 2 equal spheres.Press down a little & fold one half over he other. Crimp the edges with your fingers like you were making Cornish pastry. Now roll this on th floured surface to create a torpedo like baguette shape. Lay it gently on a floured tea towel, cover loosely with cling film, and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C, place a bowl of hot water on the base. Roll the bread off the tea towl onto the baking sheet gently so as not to lose air. Use a sharp serated knife to give it 3 diagonal slashes, 1cm deep.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. (I baked for about 30-35 minutes). Leave to cool on a wire rack.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This bread is off to  Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

The Ottolenghi cookbook is a celebration of tastes, texture, flavours, complexity, simplicity… so much. The glossy colourful pictures have the food leaping out of the pages, the presentation droolworthy. It is comforting, rustic and tantalizing! A book I have an instant connect with. Just my kind of book. Never have I baked/cooked so much out of a single book! Thank you Hilda.

We just had the bread for lunch…with this flavourful roasted bell pepper sauce pasta from Muneeba’s blog An Edible Symphony. I connect to Muneeba, her taste, her blogging style and her food, like I do to Ottolenghi. I know that whenever I stop by, she’ll tempt me to make something. That was the case with these Apple & Brown Butter Tartlets, and so too with this pasta. She said it was the fastest pasta ever…how true. I made the sauce while the pasta was boiling, and LOVED it. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I used walnuts instead. Worked fine!
Also used some garlic greens which I currently tend to use in all my savoury dishes as I really love the flavour this imparts to food. Lunch came full circle with Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli made for the nth time on Mr PABs request. Never has broccoli been so popular in our home. (I made 3 heads of broccoli, all disappeared… & he’s asked when I’m making it again. YES!!)

The kids loved the pasta to bits, nuts and all. The flavours really come out deep and strong thanks to the roasted bell peppers. The sauce would have been redder, but I had 2 red & 1 yellow bell pepper, which explains the orangish hue! The recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here. In Muneeba’s words, ” The Pioneer Woman, Ree, being a cowgirl who is also usually short on time and needs to take a break from her typical man-pleasing food, had the perfect recipe for me. A pasta dish that came together in almost no time flat.”

Pasta With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
adapted from An Edible Symphony
based on Ree’s original recipe
Serves 2-4
Ingredients:
3 roasted bell peppers(charred on the stove, skins removed, then deseeded)
3 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic greens with stems, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream
fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
fresh parsley OR cilantro OR basil
1/2 lb penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Lightly toast walnuts in a skillet and set aside.
Puree peppers with walnuts with a stick blender and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
In a pot over medium heat, drizzle in the olive oil, and saute the garlic and garlic greens till soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt and pepper – for some reason this sauce needs it.
Pour in cream and stir over low heat to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir again. Taste for additional seasoning if needed. Place pasta in a comfortingly large bowl and sprinkle your fresh herb of choice over the top, as well as lots of shaved Parmesan.
…Then smile as you dig in to this bright, cheerful and super-quick pasta… in true ‘edible symphony’ style!!

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BACK TO SCHOOL VEGGIE PIZZA IN A GARLIC PESTO CREAM SAUCE

“If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.”
Edgar W. Howe
Oh how I love this quote…what a lot said in a nutshell on the lives of mothers!! The kids are excited to be back to school (& so am I). Two months of vacation are finally drawn to an end, & schools have reopened. What a relief. It’s been a long two months & I’m looking forward to some sort of routine in life again. No dragging them out of bed at 9am anymore, blah, blah, blah…! Phew! They’ve enjoyed their vacations, a lot actually, despite the heat, and have been looking forward to going back to school. So I made them a ‘back to school’ special lunch to celebrate. Made them pizzas with ‘AB in 5 Minutes’ dough, adapted to include a little whole wheat flour, followed by Chocolate Cherry Muffins. I make these muffins very often, & you can find that recipe here.We all voted for a change from the regular tomato based pizza sauce. The time was right to try a sauce I’ve bookmarked off Cooking Photographers blog a while ago. She offers a 3 cream based sauces, each of which sound like a must try. I decided to make the garlic sauce, because of my love for garlic, but halfway through worked some pesto into it too. I usually keep a bottle of homemade pesto in the fridge, which comes in very handy at times like these.It made a beautiful sauce which complimented the vegetarian pizza wonderfully well. I’m trying to get the kids to eat more veggies as a meal option, because I find them increasingly going for chicken or non vegetarian food. That does bother me at times.This was my attempt to get vegetables back onto the table, & I must say I got huge thumbs up for my attempt. Even the daughter who normally has 2 slices had 4. I shall not even tell you how many the son had…LOL! The main topping was of smoked cottage cheese. The idea of cottage cheese coming from a pizza we recently had at Pizza Hut here, which had a non-tomato pizza sauce. I smoked the cottage cheese prior to using it; it enhances the flavour in a special way.To give the pizza a spicy kick, I added some homemade pickled peppers. The peppers have been sitting getting ready in the fridge for a week, & were just done right! The pizzas were delicious, & AB in 5 rules my life. Can’t get over the fact that I have dough ready in the fridge at any given time …YAY!! I love leafing through the pages of this wonderful book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.
GARLIC PESTO CREAM PIZZA SAUCE
as adapted from the Cooking Photographer
Ingredients:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic; minced
400ml light cream (25% fat)
1/2teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
3 tsps pesto (I make my own, recipe for pesto here)
1/4th cup Parmesan & Romano Cheese, grated

Method:

  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.
  • Reserve in bowl till it comes to room temperature. This sauce it continues to thicken as it stands, so don’t thicken it too much on the flame.
  • Note: This makes enough sauce for 6-8 small pizzas
As adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
You can find the recipe for the Master dough here, or better still, buy the book.
(I made 2/3 portion of the dough with 3 1/8 cups of plain flour, 1 cup wholewheat flour, 2 cups of water, 1 sachet of yeast, 2 tbsps of olive oil, some red chili flakes & salt)
To assemble:
  • Preheat the oven to 300C.
  • 20 minutes prior to baking, line your baking sheet with parchment paper, and sprinkle with cornmeal. Flatten out a small ball of dough to make a base. (I tried both versions, a thick crust & a thin crust. Both came out superb.) Allow to rise at room temperature.
  • 5 minutes before baking, spread about 1/4 cup pizza sauce on the base, put toppings of your choice & bake for 15-20 minutes/ till done.

This goes to Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting. This week’s edition of YeastSpotting will be hosted by Nick of imafoodblog

Note: Here is how I smoke cheese, or even burger patties, chicken tikka etc.

  • Place the cottage cheese in a big heatproof bowl ( I use steel). Keep a lid handy and a weight that you can place on top. A heavy book will do fine!
  • Heat a piece of coal on the fire till red hot. Place a small cup of foil in the same bowl , drop the hot coal into the foil, drizzle 3-4 drops of melted butter/clarified butter directly on the hot coal to intensify the smoke fumes, and quickly shut it with the lid so that minimum fumes escape. Place a weight over the lid, and leave unopened for at least 30 minutes. This will help get a deep, intense smoked flavour.
  • I smoke mozzarella the same way too. Only difference is that I clingwrap it well & place it in the fridge.

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