Saturday, 28 October 2017

Herb and Olive Oil Focaccia




Is there anything more inviting on a cold day than a warm bowl of soup and the aroma of freshly baked bread...ok, maybe a blanket and a fire but this goes with that too!

You will need:

  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2 cups of flour 
  • 1/2 great extra virgin olive oil - do not use the stuff from the grocery store for $9.99 that's junk!
  • 2 cloves of garlic- minced finely
  • 1 tbsp dry Italian Seasoning herb mix
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped Basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped Parsley (flat Italian)
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt (like Maldon)
  • 1 finely minced spring onion
  • 1 tsp dry chili flakes (pepperoncino)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmegiano Reggiano cheese and more sea salt


Step 1: heat water in microwave for 1 minute. Add yeast and honey and mix. Leave 5 minutes to activate yeast.


Step 2: chop the fresh herbs and mince garlic. Find a delicious Olive Oil - this one is a Hojiblanca from Spain. Place the oil, garlic, dry seasoning, fresh herbs, salt, green onion, chili flakes and pepper in a small pot and heat on low for 1 minute so that the garlic blooms and all the herbs open up then turn off and set aside.


I add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mix and stir in a large bowl. Let sit 20 minutes.


Step 3: add half the oil blend to the dough, the other half will be spread on top.


Step 4: I add another cup of flour to the counter and plop the wet mix on top. I use a bench scrapper to fold in more flour until it becomes manageable. I knead by hand and keep adding a sprinkle of flour until no longer sticky. This might be up to 2 more cups for a total of 4 cups.


Place in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap until double in size. This will take 1 -1 1/2 hours.


Step 5: Add a generous glug of oil to the bottom of the sheet pan and place the soft dough on top pushing down with your fingers pressing into the corners. Pour the rest of the oil mix on top and don't forget the grated Parm and another sprinkle of sea salt. 

Bake at 325 for 20- 25 minutes until golden and fragrant!


Soft and delicious !!







Sunday, 6 August 2017

Khachapuri - Georgian Cheese Bread


This bread is often topped with an egg and put back in the over until it is just set but the center is still runny. I am not a fan of runny eggs in anything so they are not on my breads. The original is just made with just cheese (top)


I created another one with a thin layer of pesto under the cheese and I have to say I loved that one better! But that is the beauty of cooking and baking you can make it your own and add what you love best!!

You will Need:

Dough

  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt (like Maldon)
  • 1 pkg or 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (yes use the EVOO - don't save it )
For the filling

  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled FETA - I beg you not to use North American Feta it is not the same as the Greek Feta not even close!
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil or melted butter to brush on crust 
  • eggs if you like that sort of thing on your bread


Step 1: in the bowl of a stand mixer add the dry ingredients: salt, yeast and flour.



Step 2: In a large measuring cup or microwave safe bowl add the wet ingredients: honey, water, milk and olive oil. Heat in microwave for 1 minute.


Step 3: add the wet to the dry and with the dough hook mix for about 4 minutes until the bowl is almost clean. Then I always do a few minutes of kneading on the counter to get the correct amount of flour added until the dough is no longer sticky.


Step 4: Once smooth oil a bowl with more olive oil and then cover an let rise until double. 1 1/2 hours in a warm place.


Step 5: Crumble and grate your cheeses and leave in fridge until ready to assemble.


Step 6: Once doubled gently deflate and place back in oiled bowl for a second rise about 45 minutes this time.


Step 7: cut dough into 4 equal pieces and flatten out into a sort of square shape then roll up edges for form a ledge. Pinch sides to create the traditional shape or just make them round like a pizza 


fill with cheeses


or add your favorite spread like pesto on the bottom and then top with cheeses.


Step 8: Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are the level of browned you like (by the way in Italy the best pizzas have some level of char on them because that is considered a component/ingredient - they are not just melted cheese and bread)

EAT Warm!! and if you have lots left let them cool and freeze them for later. When you are ready to eat them toss them in a hot oven again for 5 minutes to warm up 















Sunday, 16 April 2017

Koulouria - Greek Easter Cookies


These Greek cookies always remind me of my first boyfriend Peter's Mother. She was a great cook! They remind my husband of his grandmother. I have never attempted to make them before so I thought I would try. All the recipes on the Internet have enormous quantities that make 150 cookies or use crazy amounts to make enough to feed thousands. My recipe is for 2 dozen and they can be frozen, if you don't have an army to feed. They turned out great and the house smells of orange and vanilla when they are in the oven. Simply glorious!  They are a dry dense cookie that is not too sweet and perfect for dunking into to steaming hot mugs of coffee or tea. My version uses Olive Oil instead of butter because...well, I love Olive Oil and will always choose it first.

You will need:


  • 1/2 cup mild Extra Virgin Olive oil (there are lots of mild options from California or Texas)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp fine orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (1 orange) 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (or vanilla paste if you can find it)
  • 1/4 whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 5 1/2 cups of fine pastry flour
  • 1 egg & 1 tsp water for egg wash
  • some sesame seeds for sprinkling on tops


Step 1: gather all ingredients so you don't forget anything - measure and place them in order.


Step 2: With a paddle to begin and the dough hook to finish, add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sugar and blend for 1 minute.


Step 3: add eggs, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla, cream and cinnamon. Mix until blended well. Leave it running for a good 2 minutes.


Step 4: In a bowl add flour, baking soda and baking powder. Mix with a whisk to incorporate. Change the paddle for the dough hook- this will get dense because you are going to form cookies with your hands. Add flour 1 cup at a time and just mix until incorporated a few seconds, then add more flour until you get a heavy dough. This will be sticky but if you pat it will not stick to your hands. Once you are there stop. (don't over mix) 


Step 5: place dough on floured surface. You wont need too much flour since there is oil in the batter. This is where you can use an ice cream scoop to get even sized balls or just divide the dough in half and then keep cutting everything in half until you get 24 even sized balls. Should be a ball that can fit in your hand slightly larger than a golf ball.


Step 6: roll out each ball into a log with a bit of flour so it doesn't stick to the counter. You can roll out to about 10-12 inches in length. Fold in half and roll it around itself until it looks like a rope. 


Step 7: place on parchment lined cookie sheets -there should be a bit of room between them as they will rise a bit. Mix the egg and water and whisk with a fork to make the egg wash. Brush each cookie and sprinkle on sesame seeds.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes turning to make sure they bake evenly.



Served warm they are great but they will last a few days in a Ziploc bag and this is when they are perfect for dunking! or you can freeze some for another day. The Easter Bunny came to the window because it smelled so good too....I guess that is a lucky sign!

Happy Easter!























Thursday, 9 February 2017

Baked Jalapeno Poppers


OK! I must admit these were pretty good. They are perfect for a party because they can be made made ahead of time, then just baked until "melty" and delicious!

You will need:

  • 5-6 Jalapenos (this recipe can easily be doubled for larger crowds!)
  • 2 Spring onions (scallions)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic -minced finely
  • 1 tbsp your favorite Bar-B-Q sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsp of cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • 3 strips of bacon- cooked well and chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of cheddar or spicy cheese I used a Habanero cheese!

I found this Habanero cheese which has some pretty nice heat but you can use any sharp cheddar or jack cheese you prefer.


Step 1: If you are sensitive use gloves when handling chilies. Slice Jalapenos in half, lengthwise, then clean out seeds and membranes with a spoon. Place on a foil lined baking sheet.


Step 2: cook bacon and then chop info small dice.

Step 3: chop all ingredients finely and place in a bowl. Reserve a few bacon bits for topping.


Step 4: fill mixture in jalapeno boats and top with some breadcrumbs. Bake in a 425 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until peppers are soft and topping is browned.


Finish with a few more bacon bits and serve with a bit of sour cream to cool that heat!!