Baking| Ottolenghi’s Olive Oil Crackers … catering to the dieting diva!

“I have never gone to the bathroom in my life that a small voice on the other side of the door hasn’t whined, “Are you saving the bananas for anything?”
Erma Bombeck

Olive Oil Crackers“I’m on a diet!!” she declared yet again, perhaps trying to convince herself more than anyone else. It was the typical troubling tiresome teen time all over again. The diet drama is into its second week, but is wildly swinging, and so is the mood!Olive Oil CrackersMost discussion takes place over the after school snack. Much to his delight, junior happily tries to grab the cookies off her plate. “I’ll take it if she doesn’t want it,” he charmingly whispers. One withering look from me, and the cookie is left alone, under her nose, tempting her, yet not quite. Then I sit and try and get her attention. “I haven’t eaten anything all day,” she mumbles. Do I sense self pity?  Low fat food

Then the Mama begins to talk, maybe preach. “Eat sensibly. These cookies have oats and whole wheat. These are healthy, eat them”. Home made fresh lime juice is grabbed out of the fridge and guzzled. How long can we stay hungry? Milk is given a withering look, yet its arrival in the garb of a strawberry banana  smoothie {banana not disclosed} meets sweet surrender. Slurrrp!! Game on! Next day… “Will you have some chocolate granola? It’s got complex carbs, no butter, well almost none”. “Yes please.” An orange is always eaten without a whine…she loves it! Vary the platter is my inner call, so it’s Orange Marmalade Oats Energy Bars on offer another day … always a winner!Olive Oil CrackersAll this drama got me thinking, and reminded me of these olive oil crackers. A sweet charming Delhi foodie called me a few days ago, was between jobs, and wondered if I would teach her to decorate a cake. ‘Of course’, I said. She was over a few days later. We talked non stop for the 3 hours that she was here. While the banter hung around cookbooks for a longtime, we discussed Ottolenghi The Cookbook, and she mentioned making the olive oil crackers from an Ottolenghi recipe off the net. She was determined to get herself a copy of the book as she leafed through mine. {I ♥ that book that Hilda gave me}.Cake deco demoWe had a great morning decorating her home baked cake. Nidhi is a quick learner and a wonderful person. She brought an eggless cake {she’s severely allergic to eggs}, and we gave it a dark chocolate ganache, a spiderweb on top, made a chocolate lace border and topped it with a fanned out strawberry… all in the span of an hour. She loved it!!The cracker conversationcame back to me a few days later when the teen said she was ‘still’ on a diet. Ottolenghi time again,  a cookbook I love to use. I’m surprised I never did these crackers before! They’ve become a staple at home. I’ve made them over and over again with different toppings. I substituted a little plain flour with whole wheat flour, and they were very very good indeed.  Toppings I used were sea salt, Tuscan dried herbs, minced garlic, pepper, sesame, poppy seeds. The next batch included garlic paste added to the dough … yes, we love garlic! Did I tell you I finally got my Thermomix? Santa got here late,  but in many ways, better late than never is great!! Making this dough is an absolute cinch in the machine!Olive Oil CrackersMade a roasted red bell pepper garlic dip to go with the crackers, spiced by a dash of home made sriracha type sweet chili garlic sauce which was finger licking good. For another batch I made a home made quark dip - tangy, garlicky and ever so creamy! Ottolenghi has the dough divided into 25 walnut shaped balls, and each rolled as thin as possible into ‘witches tongue‘ like shapes! I just divided the dough into 4, rolled it out as thin as possible, splashed it with EVOO, sprinkled the toppings and cut rectangles with a pastry wheel. I think this is a lot easier than rolling individual crackers, though the witches tongues sound wickedly enticing! You must try whichever grabs your fancy, and if you like crisp savoury crackers then these are for you! Healthy and addictive!!

Olive Oil Crackers

Olive Oil Crackers
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50gm whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
115ml water
25ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Maldon flaky salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced garlic etc for sprinkling/topping

Olive Oil CrackersMethod:
Combine all the ingredients except the sea salt in a large bowl. Bring it together, and then turn onto a work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in cling film and leave it to rest for an hour in the fridge. {I kept a batch overnight as well, and it worked just fine}.
Line 2-3 trays with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 220°C . On a well floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll a quarter of the dough at a time, as thin as possible. {or you can divide the dough into 25 pieces and roll out thin tongues as described by Ottolenghi.}
Use lots of flour to ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the surface. Brush the top generously with olive oil, then sprinkle on the sea salt, or topping of your choice. Cut into rectangles with a pastry cutter.
Place the crackers on the prepared tray. Bake for 6 – 7 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Store in an airtight container.
Olive Oil CrackersThank you for stopping by

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Featured as the Food News Journal Daily Recipe for March 28th, 2011

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{Baking/Vegetarian} ROASTED BELL PEPPER, MUSHROOM & RICOTTA CALZONES … l♥ved ‘em!

“Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?”
Author Unknown
Happy ‘hump day‘!! Am battling the flu and a flu ridden family but seem to have gotten the better of Wednesday. Wordless Wednesdays prove elusive as always, maybe because I have too much to say. For that matter I never seem to make it to a ‘Meatless Mondays post either; guess that’s fine because my food isn’t ruled by days of the week. That said, I make sure the grub is meatless at least 3 times a week, and these calzones proved to be just the thing. The combination of the filling, the depth the roasted bell peppers provided and the yumminess of the ricotta in here was a winner! This is one recipe I shall make often! {By the way, Tuesdays mean ‘Tuesdays With Dorie‘ for me, even though I haven’t had the courage to join the group!}
Saw them on FoodGawker the other day, and something about them stuck in my mind. The very thought of ricotta and bell peppers had me captivated, and I imagined how good they must have been! A trip down to Nummy Kitchen had me sold as she said “Calzones are such a fun dinner and are easy to personalize for the kids and picky husband. This recipe is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food and starts with his basic pizza crust recipe”. So here I am, having made these delicious calzones as soon as I could.

The basic dough is Mark Bittman’s pizza dough. I loved that I could make it the night before and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. Seems to make bread and pizza making so much more appealing. No need to worry about it being warm enough to double rise, done or not done etc? Let it slowly rise in the fridge, while you sleep over it, and wake up the next morning to magically well risen dough! I just love the option. Of course, you can do it the normal way of letting it rise n a warm place for a couple of hours too!
As Andrea writes, Mark suggests using ricotta and spinach, but leaves the options wide open, suggesting the use of pizza toppings mixed with the ricotta. She chose to use roasted bell peppers, and why ever not? These roasted beauties tasted absolutely rustic delicious in there. I went a step further and sautéed some sliced mushrooms in EVOO with garlic and red chili flakes, and added those too. They tasted just wonderful, and me thinks next time I might just double the mushrooms in there. The filling had the most beautiful flavours possible!
Do you make your own ricotta? I made the ricotta at home from a David Lebovitz recipe, and you can too. Do make sure you drain the ricotta well, else you just might end up with soggy calzones. Making ricotta at home might sound tedious, but I assure you it’s not. I made it 2 days prior to making the calzones, and let it drain, wrapped in cling-wrap in the fridge for 2 days. I roasted the bell peppers in advance too, and having done the dough the previous night, I was left with just basic mushroom filling to make, and assembly for the next day! Easy and breezy!
I think these will make handsome little bites for a kids birthday party too, and great snack box fillers! My kids had them for an after school snack, and then later for dinner too! I absolutely loved the option of a vegetarian calzone that would win over a non vegetarian option. Pizza toppings as filling? YES PLEASE!!

Roasted Bell Pepper, Mushroom and Ricotta Calzones

1 recipe Mark Bittman’s pizza dough {recipe follows}

Filling
Adapted from Nummy Kitchen
2 cups ricotta cheese {homemade from 1 ltr of whole milk, 1/2 cup yogurt and 200ml low fat cream; recipe here}
4-5 red & yellow bell peppers, roasted and chopped
1 cup shredded mature cheddar {I didn’t have mozzarella, but this worked great}
200gms button mushrooms, finely chopped / sliced
4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
A handful fresh basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil { I used Borges from here}
Salt and Pepper
I got 6 medium sized calzones from the dough. You can even make 4 large ones.

Method:
Heat the olive oil gently with 1/2 -1 tsp of roasted chili flakes and chopped garlic. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté on high flame till the liquid evaporates. Add the chopped bell peppers with their juices and sauté again until dryish. {Not bone dry, but not drippy either, else they will make the calzone soggy}
Reserve in a large bowl until just warm. Now add the basil, grated cheddar and ricotta to this, stir well to mix. Adjust seasoning if required.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into 6 equal balls, and roll out into circles about 8 inches each, by rolling or patting the dough down.
Divide the filling equally among the six rolled out bits of dough. Fold over and pinch the sides to seal.
Bake for about 30 minutes until nice and risen, and brown. {You could give them an egg wash for a rich colour. I just gave them a brush of olive oil}
Cool for 5-7 minutes, and serve. {Be careful when you serve them to kids, as it might have hot air trapped within as they tend to puff up.}

Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough
3 cups all-purpose plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 to 1¼ cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Method:
Combine the yeast, flour, and 2 teaspoons salt in the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the 2 tablespoons of oil through the feed tube.{I did this in a large bowl, using the hand mixer with dough hooks}
Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. {In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour, a tablespoon at a time.}
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Grease a bowl with the remaining olive oil, and place the dough, in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise in warm; draft-free area until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can, cut this rising time short if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours. {I made the dough at night and let it rise in the fridge overnight… and how it rose!!}
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{Baking} OLIVE OIL WALNUT BROWNIES … darned good bites!

“Other things are just food. But chocolate’s chocolate.”
 Patrick Skene Catling
Can there ever be enough chocolate goodness in our lives? Not a chance, so as promised I’m back with another chocolate recipe. This time it’s Chef  Darren Conole’s Olive Oil Brownie recipe that he created for us to sweetly wrap up lunch at the Borges Olive Oil Meet for Food Bloggers and Critics at the Shangri-La Eros Hotel, New Delhi.
The banter over lunch that day went from the poor pumpkin which is ever so neglected, to Michelin star chefs and food trends in the UK, and then to the chefs cute as a button toddler who turns his nose up on veggies, and can survive on yogurt every single day! Since the meet was over olive oil, Darren had the olive oil brownies served in style, beautifully plated, complete with vanilla ice cream etc. I tragically had to race off as they were served, as I had to pick the lad up after school. Managed to grab the recipe off Darren while at lunch, and he was good enough to pack a serving for me as I left.
About these brownies in the Chefs words, ‘This is an old fashioned brownie. Because of the air whipped into the first stage of this recipe, it comes out crunchy and chewy To make these brownies even more decadent, add half a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I can’t eat a brownie without a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you shouldn’t either.”
With more olive oil in a goodie bag from the good folk at Borges, I knew the brownies weren’t far from being made. These are the first bakes in my new kitchen, but electricity played spoilsport and did the number on me 15 minutes after I popped the tin in. They rose beautifully in the first 15 minutes, but then settled back once the power went. It was back in a while though, but they didn’t seem very ready  in 25 minutes, so I ended giving them another 10-15 minutes, with a piece of foil slipped over to prevent extra browning.
The texture was fabulous, slightly different from the one that I had from the batch Darren made. Those were more even and fudgy all over. Mine has this light crisp, almost crunchy top, and the inside was dense and gooey. So delicious that I couldn’t resist nibbling off all the edges. BIG HIT with the kids too. I have a mocha version on my mind which I have to try soon.
Few changes as always … I added a heaped tbsp of Valrhona {yes, it’s still going strong, but have reached the bottom of the bag now}, and reduced the sugar by a 1/4 cup. Will probably try with just a cup of sugar the next time, with a sachet of vanilla sugar sprinkled on top. And yes, I added a few chopped toasted walnuts and they really added to the depth of flavour! All in all, it was a delicious, good looking brownie, which I’m going to be making once again, and soon.

Olive Oil Walnut Brownies

Minimally adapted from recipe by Darren Conole, Executive Chef Shangri-La-Eros Hotel, New Delhi
4oz dark chocolate
1/3 cup pure or light olive oil {I used Borges from here}
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa {I used Valrhona}
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a 11 x 7 x 2 or 8 x 8 x 2 pan with parchment {or spray with olive oil cooking spray. I lined mine with baking parchment.
In a small bowl melt the dark chocolate and olive oil in the microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Mix well with spoon. Set aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt.
Place eggs, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat well for 5 minutes, until nice and fluffy.
Blend in the chocolate mixture with a spatula. Fold in the sifted flour until just incorporated. Add walnuts and blend gently.
Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle over with a few toasted walnuts and vanilla sugar
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. {mine took a lot longer, so make sure you test if it is ready}.
Cool in pan, and then cut as desired.
Serve with vanilla ice cream and berry sauce.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
I like to give a shout out to to Rob Hrytzak’s who wrote to me a few days ago about Sifted Recipes. Rob’s passion for food and cooking in general has been steadily growing over the past couple of years; one of the main reasons why he started sifted recipes. With this interest, he naturally went to the internet to find recipes and trends within the foodie community. 
Do stop by at Sifted Recipes, where Rob harnesses the power of the internet to let the user community and foodies of the world submit and vote on the latest recipes from around the world, from many different blogs and websites.

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