Friday, 29 March 2013

Columba Di Pasqua - Italian Easter Bread

Columba Di Pasqua sometimes called Columba Di Pasquale  is an Italian Easter bread which literally means Easter Dove and traditionally it is made in the shape of a dove although the shape usually looks more like a cross to me (one long piece in the middle and two balls usually get baked in a paper mould) This bread is very similar to the Christmas Panettone which I just love (I have posted a recipe  for Panettone )  This bread usually has candied orange peel  or other fruits but, unlike the Panettone does not normally have raisins in it. Very few people ever make this or the Panettone because it is a labour of love and is made over two days. I say what a nice way to show someone you love them by making this kind of special treat! Mine has the lovely scent of orange, lemon, candied ginger and a bit of orange flavoured cranberries. 

The house smells magnificent!

You will need:

Biga (overnight starter) 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/8 tsp dry yeast (instant or regular is fine here)     

First Rise - Started the day before you want to bake this bread
  • 3/4 cup starter or the Biga recipe above which you need to make 2 days before baking the bread if you have a sourdough starter that you keep in the fridge you just need it to come to room temp and use it the day before you bake this bread
  • 2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 egg yolks - room temperature
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/8 tsp yeast
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter - cut into small cubes and then allow to come to room temperature
Second Rise - This is done on the day you are baking the bread and after the first rise has occurred.
  • all the dough from the first rise plus....
  • 1 1/2 cups flour 
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil - I used a fruity Donna Ricca
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks - room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla or vanilla paste
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped candied peel like orange and lemon or other dried fruits you like. I made mine with candied orange and lemon peel, crystallized ginger and a bit of dried orange flavoured cranberries.
  • 1 cup additional flour for kneading out on counter
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds - I used sliced almonds with the skins on 
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds for top

2 days before you want to bake your bread

If you do not have a sourdough starter then you need to create a quick overnight starter. Make the Biga by mixing all ingredients and leaving in a covered plastic container on the counter for 15-19 hours. So...if you want to make your bread on a Saturday create the Biga on a Thursday and leave it until Friday when you will start to make your bread with the First Rise portion of the recipe. This is important because time creates a better flavoured bread rather than making it quicker with more yeast. I told you this was a labour of love! This is what the Biga looks like after 17 hours.

1 day before you want to bake your bread
In the bowl of a stand mixer add everything for the First Rise: your Biga or sourdough starter, flour, honey, egg yolks, water and yeast. Mix well to incorporate and then mix on high for 5 minutes. Once you have mixed it then add your softened butter and mix another minute. At this stage the dough is very wet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter to rise 15-18 hours. I started mine in the afternoon and then did the second rise the next morning.

This is how much it rises after 17 hours

The day you are going to bake

Chop all your peel (I make my own - see link) and dried fruit.  Add everything to the bowl for the Second Rise: the dough from the day before, flour, honey, olive oil, salt. 3 egg yolks, vanilla, orange zest, lemon zest, chopped orange peel, lemon peel, candied ginger and cranberries. Mix until incorporated and then mix on high for 5 minutes.

Cover and let rise 3 hours. The dough will still be quite wet. 

In a food processor make frosting. Mix all ingredients for 1 minute. Set aside.

Once the dough has risen for 3 hours take the additional 1 cup of flour and add a bit at a time until it is all incorporated. I like to do this by hand because I like to feel the bread. The dough is very soft at this stage and I use a scraper to move it around the flour until it is dry enough for me to start kneading. If you prefer you can simply add the flour to the dough in the stand mixer with the dough attachment until it is absorbed and easy enough to manage. 

You can form into the traditional dove shape or make into smaller loaves. I made 3 so I could share with my neighbors.  

I used foil tins because I was giving them away but, they are not ideal. Make sure you oil them to avoid sticking and I turned up the rim of the tins so they would contain the frosting. Generously add frosting and then a sprinkle of sliced almonds. When I make the Panettone I like to use tall sided non stick baking pans.

 Let rise again 1 hour. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

 after their final rise

Bake for 30-40 minutes. I like to put a sheet of foil under the pans because they will rise high and some of the topping will overflow

Let cool and then slice  and enjoy! Share with your neighbors while the bread is still warm for optimal wow factor!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Turkey Bolognese

Turkey Bolognese is as good as making it with beef and wonderful for a change. The top picture is my plate with a beautiful drizzle of  great olive oil a sprinkling of fresh basil and some grated Parmesan and the second picture is Big Pete's plate you would think I never feed the boy!

You will need:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey - I use a combination of dark/white meat
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1  19oz. can crushed or whole tomatoes pureed in a blender
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley
  • sat and pepper
  • fresh Parmesano Reggiano for serving
  • a drizzle of exceptional Olive oil for the finish!

Step 1: in a food processor add onion, carrot, celery, fresh thyme, garlic cloves and a couple of basil and parsley leaves. I like to add more at the end for a fresh taste but, I still want to add some flavour while it is cooking. I puree until finely chopped. When you grate the vegetables very fine they almost dissolve in the sauce (good way to hide vegetables if some people in your family complain that they don't like them. Don't leave them out....hide them!)

Step 2: in a saute pan with a few tbsp of olive oil and Italian seasoning cook your turkey until water evaporates and it starts to brown. This may take 10 minutes.

Step 3: Once most of the water has evaporated add your vegetables and continue to cook another  10 minutes.

Step 4: Add chili flakes and white wine. Cook a few minutes until wine reduces and add milk.

Step 5: Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust salt and pepper. Most people are terrified of salt and pepper but, I assure you tomatoes need salt and if you cook chances are you add way less salt then the food you buy when you are out. I then turn down the heat and let the sauce cook for 1 -1 1/2 hours. The sauce will thicken and it should just quietly "blip" along with the occasional stir from you.
If it gets too dry add some of your starchy pasta water to thin it out.

Step 6: prepare your pasta - never over cook it!

I like to add the basil and parsley at the last minute and a drizzle of good oil and some cheese if you like. YUM!!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hawaiian Fried Rice

Ham and pineapple are amazing on pizza and in this rice. When you have some extra ham this is a great thing to make. I take the ham and use a food processor to make it finely minced but, if you like chunks feel free to chop it as you like.

You will need:

  • 1 cup rice - cooked in 2 cups of water - let come to a boil then cover and turn to low and leave it.
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • 1 onion - finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh red chili - minced fine
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple (fresh or canned)
  • olive oil
  • 2 spring onions - finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro - chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Step 1: cook rice,  (or use leftovers) chop onions, red chili and clean thyme leaves from stalks.

Step 2: mince ham in a food processor. In a pan saute ham, pineapple, onions and thyme. Cook to remove some of the water and start to brown.This will take 5-10 minutes on medium heat.

Step 3: add rice, chopped chili, spring onions and cilantro along with a few tbsp olive oil. Fry on high heat for a few minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper and a bit of soy sauce.

Makes a good side dish or add some chicken and you have a meal (I cooked mine in some olive oil and mango juice, salt and pepper to stay with the sweet theme!) 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Lemon Goat Cheese and Asparagus Tart

This tart has the beautiful fresh taste of lemon and herbs along with the slightly sharp tang of young goat cheese, asparagus and eggs. Served with a drizzle of exceptional oil like Mandranova Biancolilla, some more fresh basil and a salad and you have the perfect spring lunch.

You will need:
  • 1 sheet of all butter puff pastry - thawed according to directions
  • 1 small bunch of fresh asparagus - woody bottoms removed
  • 1 small leek - sliced 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • 4 fresh basil leaves - sliced into thin slices (chiffonade)
  • 2 spring onions - sliced fine
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley - sliced fine
  • 30 g goat cheese (2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup shaved Manchego cheese or Parmesan
  • salt/ pepper
  • olive oil 

Step 1: remove woody bottoms of asparagus and in a small pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 2 tbsp water, salt and pepper cook asparagus and sliced leek for 3-4 minutes until the water evaporates and the asparagus gets bright green. It should still be crunchy but, no longer raw.

Step 2: in a small dish or baking pan unfold the thawed puff pastry. I used a narrow ceramic dish just to have a lip of pastry to contain your eggs. You can use a pie plate or any square baking pan. I just made sure that the puff pastry went up the sides of the dish. Dock the pastry with a fork so it doesn't puff too much and place asparagus spears in a decorative manner that you like!

Step 3: in a small bowl add eggs, ,milk, (or cream, or non dairy substitute) lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, spring onions and parsley (leave some fresh basil for sprinkling on top just before serving) Beat with a fork until mixed well and pour evenly over tart. Add small blobs of goat cheese  and the leeks.

Step 4: add some shaved Manchego cheese and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Bake in a heated 350 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes until top is browned and beautiful.

Immediately add a drizzle of good olive oil and some chopped basil. Serve with a side salad. I just had a sliced tomato, olive oil, salt, pepper and a bit of balsamic vinegar.