Baking| Ottolenghis Brilliant Focaccia … doesn’t get better than this!

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M.F.K. Fisher

Ottolenghis FocacciaIt was bread baking day. Sometime days are like that, now rather rare, and with a relatively ‘free’ day comes the urge to make bread. Chatting with Sangeeta on FB, she was sipping her morning tea, me already on my second coffee and the laundry whirring annoyingly, I was hit with a ‘bread baking feeling . By afternoon I had a brilliant Focaccia bursting with flavour yelling to get out of the oven!Ottolenghis FocacciaThe bread recipe caught me by surprise. In my head I had a slightly quicker bread, something which would just do a single rise, yeast & all. I turned to one of my all time favourite books, Ottolenghi, The Cookbook but didn’t read the recipe thoroughly though …Ottolenghis Focaccia I always heel ‘happy’ when I read the book – so much quality food, fresh produce holding the key to the end result, recipes from the heart, colours and flavours that leap out of the pages … and photographs that tantalise the tastebuds! Even if I don’t cook / bake out of it, it keeps me strangely satisfied!Ottolenghis Focaccia I weighed the ingredients, added the water … and took a double take! This was just the starter, or a preferment! There was going to be LOTS of bread! For some reason the elder teen rejects bread these days because of her diet, cutting back carbs etc, yet the rainy weather had me in a bread baking frame of mind!! I wanted to bake real bread, slow bread … not a quick, non yeast bread!Ottolenghis Focaccia Thankfully the trusted Thermomix is always at hand and takes the work out of kneading. There was plenty of rising to happen. First the preferment, then the 1st rise, then some folding {almost like rough puff pastry}, then some more rise. All this folding and rising resulted in a delightfully nice dough… and in turn, a delightfully nice bread!Ottolenghis Focaccia I baked half on day one and punched down the other half and refrigerated it for day two. NICE!! It was even better the next day with a third slow rise in the fridge … and ‘bubbly and squeaky‘ as Dorie Greenspan would call it! It’s a beautiful dough to have in the fridge. Both days the bread didn’t last long… quite an addictive bake!Ottolenghis Focaccia Even the dieting diva loved it and couldn’t stop nibbling. It’s no nice and chewy she declared! That’s the beauty of Ottolenghis recipes…they ALWAYS deliver. The kids had focaccia sandwiches for dinner that night with chicken salami, homemade pesto and mozzarella. The verdict – ♥♥♥!Ottolenghis FocacciaThe dehydrated tomatoes from Fab India were SO disappointing; I’m not going back there in a hurry! On the other hand, the queen olives stuffed with pimento from Leonardo are absolute winners. That jar’s not safe once it’s open … you cannot keep away from it … delectable! So is the Leonardo Gold Olive Oil that I slathered on top … it just made the bread sing!!Ottolenghis FocacciaIt’s a bread I am going to make often. I like that it baked even better the next day, so maybe the next time I leave it in the fridge for a slow overnight rise. Bread baking days are here again … and I’m loving it!! I am also excited as I have a sourdough starter from Sangeeta on my counter {it’s alive and bubbling I think} and I can see more bread in the coming days!

Other recipes from Ottolenghi on PAB

Ricotta and Spinach Roulade
Dried Cranberry & Walnut Bread
Chargrilled Broccoli Salad
Carrot Walnut Cake with Mascarpone Frosting
Olive Oil Crackers
Preserved Limes
Milled Nut Flour Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache
Individual Cherry & Plum Clafoutis

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

Culinary Event | Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby & Leonardo … & Sizzling Gamba {recipe}

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
Mae West

We were brought believing that too much of a good thing is bad! Times have clearly changed and with good times come dispelled notions! Our afternoon at the decidedly charming Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli sponsored by Leonardo Olive Oil was nothing short of magic.

{Warning: Long post}
Leonardo Olive Oil @ Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli Nine Delhi food bloggers, Italian cuisine and olive oil that flowed nonstop, celebrity Chef Saby with his passionate efficient team, warm and light hearted hosts Himani & Chandana, and one of my favourite eating places OLIVE – it was food heaven under one roof! Four hours with one of India’s top 10 chefs passed by in a heartbeat!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’m an ardent admirer of the super talented Chef Saby. Having missed a couple of opportunities to see him create culinary magic, this was one event that I wasn’t going to miss. Apprehensive about meeting a guy who has won just about every chef award in India, cooked for India’s top families like the Bachchans & Ambanis, someone inspired by Sydneys Tetsuya, he instantly put us at ease. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

 Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI walked in on the dot of 12 noon, the given time … everything was ready, in place and waiting. Have been to events before where apparently a wait of 30 minutes+ is seemingly acceptable. Not so here. The anti pasti counters gleamed invitingly, Leonardo flavouring the spreadapple relish, onion & chili jam, mushroom pate, hummus, Caprese salad, the exotic cheese platter, stuffed little red peppers with whipped feta {my favourite}, Leonardo olives, more olives, cured meats …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Himani Dalmia, Senior Manager Corporate, Leonardo and Chandana Paul went out of the way to make us live the experience – Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby and Leonardo”! It was soon time for Olive fish & chips, asparagus the vegetarian option! Crisp & delicious! Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe Chef? Jack of all trades and master too, wonderful human being, as level headed as he is large hearted, ever smiling, humorous, an engaging speaker, fantastic team leader, eagle eyed, perfectionist … too many adjectives but it’s impossible to describe the man in a few words! His accolades speak for him – Best Chef of India Awarded by President of India, National Tourism Award, 2011-12, Director of Kitchens – ai, lap, olive qutab, olive beach , the moving kitchen by olive yet so down to earth! {He even walked us to the porch and waited for our respective cars to come}.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

For him, cooking is an art, the ultimate form of expression. “The platter is my canvas and the food ingredients, my colour!” … in the case of this artist you can eat his art. At Olive, he brings his love for all things culinary to life as he cooks right in front of the guests at a rustic kitchen called the Greenhouse on the Ridge. His recipes, as always, satiate and leave guests asking for more.

He threw his kitchen open to us, patiently guiding us into every nook and cranny {it was buzzing at lunch}, explaining kitchen procedures, chef training, sourcing fresh produce … the works! Once inside the cold room, you can imagine the grin when we saw the Padano! If we could have lifted that 40kg block of cheese we would have run for it!Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe menu for the day demonstrated different uses of Leonardo products – pasta, green and black olives, India’s first non-alcoholic beer, and olive oil of course! Non stop banter and photographs continued while discussing olive oil, the myths particularly surrounding pomace, the changing face of ‘food on our table’ … Pasta Marinare @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlive oil is the juice of the olive, the only oil on the market that is extracted from a fresh fruit is universally accepted as the healthiest of all edible oils. Adding olive oil to your diet is the easiest change you can make towards a healthier lifestyle. I ♥ olive oil! Mr V N Dalmia @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiLeonardo Olive Oil the first Indian brand of olive oil introduced in 2003 is a brand owned by Dalmia Continental Private Limited the flagship company of VN Dalmia {seen above; he joined us for lunch}. It offers four of the finest versions – Leonardo Gold, Leonardo 100% Pure Olive Oil, Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil and Leonardo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The product list includes Leonardo Olives, Hudson Canola Oil, Granora Pasta, Indian pickles too.

Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

Photo courtesy Rekha @ http://www.mytastycurry.com/

By the time we were done, we were ready to burst, yet Saby could have hypnotised us to eat another marathon round! He held us in good humour woven around the food and drinks, gently introducing each variety of olive oil used in the menu from batter fried asparagus shoots and basa fish, to the mind blowing apple & feta saladLeonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… to moorishly beautiful fresh baked artisan skillet bread {close to the Indian pav something like I recently made, but up several notches} served with individual pestle and mortals to make your own olive oil dip {YUM} …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… melt in the mouth classical lasagna Bolognaise in a skillet, followed by black truffle porcini risotto {excellent was the word} …Black truffle porcini risotto … and then a variety of wood fire pizzasMarinara pizza; Asparagus, smoked Scarmoza cheese, walnuts, Parmesan, truffle oil; Spinach, sundried tomato, olives, feta; Pepperoni jalapeno; Olive’s signature Milano paper pizza … fresh from the rustic oven in the courtyard of this picturesque restaurant.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiHe has us eating out of his hands, all this while his super efficient team set up the dessert counter and had us hopelessly distracted! I’m definitely a small eater but I was amazed at how far I stretched it. How could there possibly be so much deliciousness on a single day? I am proud to say I tasted everything, well almost  … Sizzling Gamba @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’ve never had a gamba before, not always food adventurous, but having it stirred under your nose does something to your taste buds. Mouthwatering and sizzling good, I loved the way it was served? Beautiful flavours, the undertones of olive oil marrying the ingredients so well, the freshness of the produce and the passion of the chef! {You an find the recipe at the bottom}Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlives signature tiramisu made with inhouse mascarpone had me swooning! It was delightful, as was the praline mud cake! I regret that I didn’t get as far as the apple & walnut crumble with the stunning spun sugar! Desserts @ Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiSaby or Chef Sabyasachi Gorai is the Executive Chef at Olive in Delhi. Launched in 2003 by AD Singh, Olive was immediately chosen as one of the world’s best new restaurants. One of Delhi’s must visit eat out places offering hand picked recipes from the Mediterranean, overlooking the romantic Qutab Minar, it is housed in an ancient Mughal mansion.Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhChic in every way -  the old world character beautifully blends with the rustic charm of old wood, vintage furniture, light furnishings, an open courtyard, indoor eating places, a terrace sit out overlooking the monument … and of course, the ancient banyan tree! {Thank you Sangeeta for clicking me clicking Olive}Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi My deep love for the vintage feel and distressed wood makes me love this place!  The Olive Bar and Kitchen is a rustic hideaway where good food, laughter, culture and conversation come together in a delightful Mediterranean melting pot. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Thank you Himani and Chandana for playing the perfect hosts on behalf of Leonardo, and for the generous goodie baskets!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet - Goodie basketsThank you Saby, Vaibhav and Astha for the outstanding food, warmth and fun you served up, and for the ‘bottle cakes‘ and chocolates …Bottle Cakes @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi …and thank you Sid for being the glue that binds the Delhi food bloggers together!

 

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Holiday Baking| Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies {Waffle + Cookies = Wookies!!}…Pennsylvania Dutch Waffle Cookies

“I’ve waffled before. I’ll waffle again.”
Howard Dean

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesGuess what? This morning I made some of the best and fastest cookies of my life. It was a chance find as I was on a food pictures website where these absolutely CUTE cookies caught my eye – Wookies by Beau Dealy @ Something Edible. I was up in a jiffy, dusting the cobwebs off my treasured Belgian waffle maker. In next to no time I had Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Chip Wookies!

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesSIMPLE
UNIQUE
DARN TASTY
REALLY DARNED TASTY

These are a variation on an original recipe of Pennsylvania Dutch Cinnamon Waffle Cookies that were elevated to charmingly delicious levels by this very talented blogger. A result of his hard work and experimentation, his version offer a festive and interesting maple icing glaze. You must read his post.Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesHe describes the vital statistics behind the dough, its consistency, the timing, his experiences, along with step by step pictures; very worth the read. If I had original maple syrup in my larder I would have made his variation.Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesI skipped the cinnamon in the dough and the glaze too, adding chocolate chips to the sticky dough instead. I was really curious to see how these would come out. My Belgian waffle maker is a few years old, one that my lil’ sis from the US gifted me. It ran on the standard American voltage of 120V until the wiring was redone by my adventurous engineer father to our local Indian voltage of 220V. Don’t ask me what he did, but it works!Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesThe recipe worked beautifully!! Just as we heaved a sigh of relief thankful for a very smooth, largely power cut free summer, we’ve been  cursed with incessant power cuts this season. Come winter, foggy, bone chilling days at 6-7 degrees C, and the power is playing truant. Baking sometimes seems a pain with no uninterrupted power supply. That’s why these yummy looking two minute cookies called my name.Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesMy word, were they good? CRISP GOOD! The daughter was home early after her exam and LOVED them. The son got a couple with his mug of milk when he got in from school. “Just 2 please“, I thundered. I had a journalist and his photographer coming in later that afternoon for an interview and photoshoot for a local daily. “MUST save some for them!”
Orange olive oil buttermilk pound cake with a citrus glazeThey were destined to be shared and finished by afternoon. The visitors loved the wookies and also the above orange olive oil buttermilk pound cake I baked. Told me these were the best cookies and cake they had eaten. The daughter said I must open a shop for unique baked goods. I was chuffed … so much praise for speedy cookies and cake. {The wookies and cake were both made in the fast lane by tossing the ingredients into the Thermomix}.Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesSo if you have that waffle maker waiting in the wings, reach out for it, mix the dough and serve up some deliciousness in minutes. I figure you can make the cookie dough in advance and serve fresh cookies this holiday season. They are quite soft when just out {handle with care as you take them out of the waffle maker as they are tender}, but they crispen in minutes. Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies or Waffle CookiesI contemplated glazing mine with a coffee sugar glaze, but changed my mind when I tasted the first one. It seemed sweet enough sans a glaze. Next time I might decrease the sugar in the cookie dough and add a glaze. Its a wonderful versatile cookie. Now I am wondering if there might be savoury way around this. I would love a cheesy savoury wookie like this. Any thoughts anyone?

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies {Waffle Cookies}

51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 16 wookies

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies {Waffle Cookies}

Crisp, unique deliciously unforgettable Pensylvania Dutch waffle cookies made in minutes in a waffle maker. Versatile too.

Ingredients

100gm butter, room temperature.

1/2 cup vanilla sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

pinch of salt

2 small eggs {or 2 yolks + 1 white}

1 cup flour

1/4tsp baking powder

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, scraped vanilla bean, pinch of salt and sugar at medium speed for three minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary.
  2. Add eggs and continue to beat on medium for another two minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  3. Set the mixer to stir and spoon in the flour, baking powder and chocolate chips. The finished batter should have the consistency of a sticky cookie dough.
  4. Fire up your waffle iron to 400F (around medium-high) and dish out measured tablespoon-sized portions (3/4 oz) into each division of the waffle iron. "Bake" for 2 minutes or until golden brown, and let cool and crisp up on a wire rack.
http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2011/12/baking-vanilla-bean-chocolate-chip-wookies-waffle-cookies-wookies-pennsylvania-dutch-waffle-cookies.html

These holiday cookies are on the way to Suma’s  Cakes And More Cookie Fest where she says “None of us remain immune to the spirit of baking during the Christmas season, even the hesitant baker turns on the oven for sure.  So, do bake me some cookies – chewy, crispy,flaky or crunchy – anything from gooey brownies to crunchy biscotti to delicate tuiles to flaky batons – I shall gobble them all!All yours to gobble Suma!!


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