Friday, 30 July 2010

Further Adventures in Cheese - Gouda!.

Growing by leaps and bounds this month, we at Forging Fromage made homemade Gouda! A little more complex than the cheeses we started off with, this one is the first to be aged after great pressing.
I realized the hard way that I really needed to start pressing my cheese in something with a flat bottom - because every time I had to flip this one over and re-press it, it got a little crumbly with the reshaping. Ultimately that gave mine a porous texture, and I would like to try it again with a different mould, but the flavour was mature and very tasty nonetheless.
For our companion cheese we made an old favourite, yogurt cheese. I have a strainer set that came with my yogurt maker and make yogurt cheese quite often right in my fridge. For me it is the great inexpensive and healthy substitute for chevre, ricotta or cream cheese, depending on the application. If you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for?
I am still working on my cheddar - and yes, I have made some flat-bottom moulds for it - and the next cheeses will be announced around the second of August. Feel free to join us in our cheesy challenge.

Gouda Cheese Making Recipe

Gouda along with Edam, originating from Netherlands, is one of the original washed curd cheese. Other washed curd cheeses are Havarti & Danbo from Denmark, Jarlsberg & Fontina from Sweden, and Colby from USA.

Washed curd cheeses are called "sweet" cheeses by cheese makers as "sweet" is a term used to describe the body of the cheese with good flexibility, however, they are also slightly sweet in taste. They are unique as heat is added to the curds and whey not by heating the vat, but directly by removing whey and adding hot water.

Gouda, unlike some other washed curd cheeses, include a pre-pressing of the curds in the whey. Without this step, open textured cheese is the result.

Gouda, and other washed curd cheeses are a good stepping stone after soft cheeses for new cheese makers as 1) they mature fairly quickly, making the learning curve quicker, 2) do not require heavy pressing forces, thus less equipment required, and 3) because they form close knit and chemically tight rinds, are well suited to simpler rinded methods such as waxed or natural rind, and thus are easier to age.


* 1 US gallon/3.6 liters Fresh Cow's Milk.
* Optional: Calcium Chloride if using pasteurized milk.
* Mesophilic Starter Culture of your choice, either manufactured or 4 ounces/115 ml of homemade.
* Rennet diluted in 1/4 cup/50 ml cool water, amount depending on package directions and your experience with that brand.
* Salt for brine.
* Optional: 1 tablespoon/7 grams Cumin Seeds or 2 Teaspoons/4 gram Mustard Seeds for flavouring.

Curd Making

1. Warm the milk to 90°F/32°C.
2. Add Starter Culture (and optional Calcium Chloride) dissolved in small amount of water and mix thoroughly with a whisk to make the culture (and CaCl2) uniform throughout the milk.
3. Cover and let the culture ripen at same temp for 10 minutes.
4. Trickle in diluted rennet stirring constantly with a whisk for 2-3 minutes to evenly distribute.
5. Cover and let the milk stand at 90°F/32°C for 1-2 hours until a clean break is achieved.
6. Cut the curds into 1/2 inch/1 cm cubes.
7. Allow the curds to sit for 10 minutes to firm up.
8. Slowly raise the temperature of the milk to 100F/38C over 45 minutes. During this time, gently stir the curds every few minutes so they don't mat together.
9. Once the curds reach 100°F/38°C, stop any stirring and allow the curds to settle.
10. Carefully remove and discard ~2-3 cups/0.5 litre of whey from the top surface and replace with same amount of 100°F/38°C water, and then stir gently to break any large lumps of curd.
11. Cook the curds at 100°F/38°C for another 45 minutes, every 15 minutes remove same volume of whey, replace with same volume of warm water, and then stir to break any large lumps of curd.
12. Drain the curds by pouring through a cheesecloth lined colander, discarding whey.

Curd Pressing

1. Place the curds into a cheesecloth lined mold.
2. Press the cheese at ~15 pounds/7 kg for ~15 minutes.
3. Remove the cheese from the mold and cheesecloth, turn, replace in cheese cloth and mold and press again at ~15 pounds/7 kg for ~30 minutes.
4. Remove the cheese from the mold and cheesecloth, turn, replace in cheese cloth and mold and press again at ~15 pounds/7 kg for ~12 hours.
5. Remove the cheese from the mold and cheesecloth, turn, replace in cheese cloth and mold and press again at ~15 pounds/7 kg for final ~12 hours.


1. Remove the cheese from the press and cheesecloth, place in saturated brine solution for 3 hours, be certain to turn the cheese over every ~45 minutes to ensure even rind development.
2. Remove from bath and pat dry with paper towel and discard paper towel, (you will notice the outer surface has become firmer).


1. Place the cheese on a drying mat in 50°F/10°C and 80-85% humidity Cheese Cave to ripen for 3 weeks. Turn and wipe the cheese daily with clean cloth dipped in brine solution.
2. If too thick a rind begins to develop, place an overturned bowl on top of the cheese, or place it in a covered container to raise humidity. However, continue to turn the cheese daily and do not wrap it in plastic.
3. Eat as young Gouda or wax and age additional 3 months for medium or 9 months for extra aged Gouda. If you wax the cheese, continue to flip the cheese every 3 days or so.


1. Boil Cumin or Mustard Seeds covered in ~4 ounces/125 ml water for 15 minutes, add water if required.
2. Drain seeds, keep and cool flavoured water.
3. In directions above, stir in cooled flavoured water before adding Starter Culture.
4. In directions above, mix boiled seeds into curds before packing into cheesecloth and mold for pressing.


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Summer Salad; Sweet, Fruity, and Easy

Am I a summer person? Maybe not, I like the more temperate conditions of spring and fall, but I do love summer grilling and especially summer produce.
Dinner can be as simple as grilled chicken or chops with a great salad. And what better for a summer salad than fruit?

This is when the trepidatious would say, "which fruit?" and "how shall I pair them?". To which I say, "whatever you have on hand" and "with whatever you feel like". There is no exact science to making a salad, put in what you like. I find we like summer salads with a bed of greens, either stolen harvested from our neighbour's garden or whatever we have on hand, paired with something crunchy like cucumber or celery, add whatever fruit you have on hand, in this case we have pear and blueberries and fresh herbs - we used Chinese chives here. Cheese of any kind would be great, chevre, bleu, cheddar, you name it. And toasted nuts? Inspired.

What sets off your easy-peasy summer salad is a great dressing. You could make your own of course, I do love a homemade dressing, but sometimes you want to come home to something a little easier and I found that these Girard's Premium Salad Dressings that I sampled this week were very complementary to the classic summer salad. With this particular salad I used the Creamy Balsamic. If I used apples instead of the pears, the Apple Poppyseed would have been perfect. And how about a little Peach Mimosa or Champagne dressing? Just scream summer don't they?

So this summer, don't forget to use lots of fruit in your salads, and, if you come across it, give Girard's Premium Salad Dressings a try.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Everyone loves a bagel. So chewy and satisfying and infinitely better homemade than that stuff that passes for bagels at the grocery store. Peter Reinhart is the master and I come back to his bagel recipe time and time again - preferring the standard bagel with an almost foccacia tasting topping. Bring on the salt and herbs! But as I was making them for the eleventieth time this week, I noticed that I had never tried his cinnamon raisin version.
Aha! A project. They are made the same way, mixed and shaped the day before - boiled and baked the next day, but are sweet and raisiny and perfect for breakfast. (Actually, every bagel is perfect for breakfast - just play along)
My husband came home to see them lined up on their rack and exclaimed "Wow, you are really on a bagel kick". Then he tried one. And took the rest to work to share with his friends. Always a sign of success. Also a sign that I should bake again today.

Peter Reinhart’s Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Yield: 12 bagels

1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups unbleached bread flour
2 1/2 cups water, room temperature

1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar
2 cups dark raisins, rinsed

To Finish
1 tablespoon baking soda

Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

1. Day one: To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt, sugar and cinnamon. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients for a ball, slowly working in the remaining 3/4 cup flour to stiffen the dough. Add the raisins in the last 2 minutes.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all ingredients should be hydrated. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 71 degrees F. If the dough seems to dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into 4 1/2 ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Shape: Poke a hole in a ball of bagel dough and gently rotate your thumb around the inside of the hole to widen it to approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The dough should be as evenly stretched as possible (try to avoid thick and thin spots.)

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float. Return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minutes flip them over rand boil for another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer. (I find a little longer is better)

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Fool Mudamas and Fresh Pita - From the Tables of Lebanon

Are you a fool for fool? Also spelled ful, fuhl and likely several other ways ~ this fool is not your whipped cream dessert fare, it is a hearty bean dish from Lebanon. Great for vegetarians and people on a budget, it is healthy and economical and pairs wonderfully with a cucumber yogurt salad and fresh pita bread.
I like to mash my beans a bit with a potato masher and sometimes serve them with chopped fresh chilies, tomato and onions. This time I served them with a prepared mango pickle in mustard sauce that I found at my local Persian market.
This meal was perfect to serve to my (mostly) vegetarian university scholar, home for a little TLC and laundry. The book, From the Tables of Lebanon, is a great little cookbook of simple vegetarian recipes with short (and easy to find) ingredient lists. I appreciated that it didn't lean towards soy or other "meat substitutes", but relied on pure, natural ingredients, fresh from the market.

From The Tables of Lebanon
Traditional Vegetarian Cusine
Dalal A. Holmin, Maher A. Abbas, MD
Softcover, 8x7, 176 pages

Fool Mudamas
Fava Beans

An excellent dish for bean lovers, this recipe is similar to the breakfast fava beans. Dried beans are used instead.

1 pound dried fava beans
1 teaspoon baking soda

4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (red pepper)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

Cover the dried beans with water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and soak over night. Rinse several times. Cover with clean, fresh water (about 12 cups) and cook over medium heat for several hours until soft and succulent. Drain.

Mix the garlic with the lemon juice, then add the olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Mix again.

Add the mixture to the drained beans, and garnish with the parsley. Serve warm with pita bread.

Arabic Bread (Pita)
Khibibz Arabi

2¼ teaspoons dry baking yeast
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk


Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a ¼ cup of the lukewarm water. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a depression in the center, and add the remaining water, the milk, and dissolved yeast. Begin mixing the flour with the liquid, making sure all the batter on the sides of the bowl is well mixed into the dough. Dip your hand in the water, an knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough and set in a warm place until it doubles in size, at least 2-4 hours.

Punch the dough down and knead for a couple of minutes. Form into 4 smooth balls. Each ball should be the size of an orange. Cover the dough with a cloth, and set in a warm place. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Roll out the balls into circles about ¼ inch thick. Place on cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal, and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 5 minutes, then place the bread under the broiler for a few seconds until lightly browned.

The breads may be eaten right away or frozen for long-term storage. If you care going to store the bread, let it cool down to room temperature for 30 minutes before packing into a plastic bag. Frozen loaves can be warmed in the oven or microwave.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Hamelman's 80 Percent Sourdough Rye with a Rye Soaker

This is a delicious dark rye loaf, perfect for sandwiches as it has a lovely crumb. The dough seems almost like wet sand to begin with, owing to the large amount of rye flour which has very little gluten in it. But the resulting loaf is beautifully textured with great flavour. I think it is my new favourite rye bread.

80 Percent Sourdough Rye with a Rye Soaker
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread

11.2 oz whole rye flour
9.3 oz room temperature water that has been left out for 24 hours
.6 oz mature sourdough culture

6.4 oz whole rye flour
6.4 oz boiling water

Final Dough
8 oz whole rye flour
6.4 oz high gluten flour
9.3 oz room temperature water that has been left out for 24 hours
.6 oz salt
.16 oz instant dry yeast (1.5 tsp)
All of the soaker
All of the starter

The Night Before:

Mix the sourdough ingredients together, let ripen for 14-16 hours at room temperature.

Mix the soaker ingredients and cover immediately with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature while the starter is ripening.

The Next Day:

Everyone into the pool! Add the soaker, starter and dough ingredients to your mixer and start slow for a few minutes. Turn the mixer to medium for a couple minutes more and stop.

Let rest 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half.

Shape into two loaves.

Let ferment for one hour. Preheat oven.

Bake at 470° for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 430° and continue to bake for 35-40 minutes or until baked through.

Let bread rest for several hours before slicing.

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Tropical Granola

Good morning sunshine! Or good afternoon to anyone, like us, who happened to have slept in.
This is a great granola to brighten up your week, a tropical twist on a classic.
Finally I have a purpose for the pretty dried tropical fruit that, until now, sat batting its eyelashes at me in hopes that I would let it star in a dish of its own.

I didn't add sugar as there is plenty in the fruit for us - but if you like it sweeter - just add a little brown sugar to the mix.

This granola would also make for amazing parfaits, layered with some Greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Tropical Granola
for I Heart Cooking Clubs Potluck
adapted from Kahakai Kitchen, adapted from Mark Bittman's Food Matters
and from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant) or other rolled grains
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I used a mix of macadamias, slivered almonds, and sunflower seeds)
1 cup dried sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped dried tropical fruit (I used a mix of 1 1/4 cups of dried mango, papaya, crystallized ginger and banana chips)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, coconut, cardamom and coconut milk; sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Toss well to thoroughly distribute ingredients. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The granola should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier it will be.

Remove pan from oven and add the dried fruit. Cool on a rack, stirring now and then until the granola reaches room temperature. Put in a sealed container and store in refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.


Saturday, 24 July 2010

Baked Figs with Grand Marnier and Whipped Cream for Cook the Books

This month's Cook The Books book club selection was The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. A magical book, it is the story of a chef and eight students who come together one night a month for cooking classes - their lives and their pasts gently drawn out in the prose in a dream-like manner. By the end of the book I was quite attached to the characters and am still wondering how they are doing, and I loved the light but engaging tone of the book.

For my book-inspired dish, I made Baked Figs with Grand Marnier and Whipped Cream. We so rarely see fresh figs here in suburban Canada that they themselves can seem a little magical, and when my husband showed up with two(!) flats of them - I knew I wanted to use them for my CTB dish.

On the plate the two baked figs dance and nestle and support one another, lined and sweet and nestled with freshly whipped cream and sweet, sweet syrup. A dish of maturity, romance, and love.

Baked Figs with Grand Marnier and Whipped Cream
Gourmet | September 2002
yield: Makes 6 servings


* 12 fresh figs
* 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
* 1 cup chilled heavy cream


Preheat oven to 300°F.

Prick bottom of each fig several times and stand figs in a buttered 9- to 10-inch flameproof gratin dish or ovenproof skillet. Sprinkle figs with 1/3 cup sugar, then add water to dish.

Bake figs in middle of oven, basting twice with pan juices, until tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to stovetop, then add 1/4 cup Grand Marnier and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Remove from heat and carefully ignite pan juices. After flames subside, juices should be syrupy. If pan juices are too thin, transfer figs to a shallow serving bowl, then boil juices until syrupy and slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes, and pour over figs.

Beat cream with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and tablespoon liqueur using an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks.

Serve figs, warm or at room temperature, with syrup and cream.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Coccodrillo, or "The Croc"

This is the most insane dough I have ever baked with. Wetter and even more gelatinous than the Royal Crown, it defied all sense of physics. A veritable pancake batter is stirred slowly in the mixer for 17 minutes and, by golly, at the end it is a cohesive mass and cleaning the sides of the bowl!
The jelly-like dough is poured into a bowl to rise, flipping every hour, for up to five hours. The incredible thing - you can actually flip it! It looks like liquid but stays intact for a little flip action. Amazing.
While shaping the loaf as best I could, it started to blob over the counter in an attempt to escape. No matter, it was easily nudged back on to the floured board and given some sort of loaf-like shape. I baked it on a lined sheetpan to golden deliciousness and my son declared it his all-time favourite bread.
Thanks Lien, Babe, for this great bread! This is the last bread that I had left to bake for the Bread Baking Babes, I am totally caught up. It also is the perfect bread for this month's Bread Baking Day - Italian Breads - how great is that?!

This Crocodile bread, named for its shape, was dreamed up about thirty years ago by Gianfranco Anelli, a baker in Rome. It is his favorite bread and, judging from the numbers of people who come from all over the city to buy it, it may be his most popular as well.

At the bakery it takes two days to make; I suggest that you start it in the morning, work at it again for ten minutes in the evening, and finish the next day. I actually prefer to stretch the process over three days because the flavor is even better. Three days may seem formidable, but the working time of the first two days is only 5 to 10 minutes.

This is one dough that you will find difficult to make without an electric mixer, for it requires thirty minutes of continuous stirring for the final dough-of course you could enlist help. The result is an extremely light bread with a crunchy dark-speckled crust and a very chewy interior. The bread stays fresh for an amazing number of days.

Coccodrillo, or "The Croc"

for BreadBakingDay #32, Italian Breads
Makes 2 large loaves

First starter:
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast or 1/6 small cake (3 grams) fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup (35 grams) durum flour
3/4 cup (90 grams) unbleached stone-ground flour* (*use strong bread flour -stone ground or not- for a better result)

The morning of the first day, stir the yeast into the water; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flours and stir with a wooden spoon about 50 strokes or with the paddle of an electric mixer about 30 seconds. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12 to 24 hours. The starter should be bubbly.

Second starter:
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1/2 small cake (9 grams) fresh yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups water, room temperature
1/2 cup (70 grams) durum flour
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) unbleached stone-ground flour (use strong bread flour -stone ground or not- for a better result)

The evening of the same day or the next morning, stir the yeast into the warm water; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the water, flours and dissolved yeast to the first starter and stir, using a spatula or wooden spoon or the paddle of the electric mixer until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 12 to 24 hours.

1/4 cup (35 grams) durum flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups (120 to 140 grams) unbleached stone-ground flour (use strong bread flour -stone ground or not- for a better result) (I used the one cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons (10-15 grams) salt* (*it says 25 g in the book, but this will get you a very, very salty crocodile)

By mixer:
The next day, add the durum flour and 1 cup unbleached flour to the starter in a mixer bowl; mix with the paddle on the lowest speed for 17 minutes. Add the salt and mix 3 minutes longer, adding the remaining flour if needed for the dough to come together. You may need to turn the mixer off once or twice to keep it from overheating.

By hand:
If you decide to make this dough by hand, place the starter, durum flour, and 1 cup unbleached flour in a wide mouthed bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon for 25 to 30 minutes; then add the salt and remaining flour if needed and stir 5 minutes longer. The dough is very wet and will not be kneaded.

First Rise:
Pour the dough into a Hammarplast bowl or a wide mouthed large bowl placed on an open trivet on legs or on a wok ring so that air can circulate all around it. Loosely drape a towel over the top and let rise at about 70° F, turning the dough over in the bowl every hour, until just about tripled, 4 or 5 hours.

Shaping and Second Rise:
Pour the wet dough onto a generously floured surface. Have a mound of flour nearby to flour your hands, the top of the oozy dough, and the work surface itself. This will all work fine-appearances to the contrary-but be prepared for an unusually wet dough. Make a big round shape of it by just folding and tucking the edges under a bit. Please don't try to shape it precisely; it's a hopeless task and quite unnecessary. Place the dough on well, floured parchment or brown paper placed on a baking sheet or peel. Cover with a dampened towel and let rise until very blistered and full of
air bubbles, about 45 minutes.

Thirty minutes before baking, heat the oven with a baking stone in it to 475° F. Just before baking, cut the dough in half down the center with a dough scraper; a knife would tear the dough. Gently slide the 2 pieces apart and turn so that the cut surfaces face upward. Sprinkle the stone with cornmeal. If you feel brave, slide the paper with the dough on it onto the stone, but the dough can also be baked directly on the baking sheet. When the dough has set, slide the paper out. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack.

(with some minor adaptions taken from: "The Italian Baker" by Carol Field)

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

breadbakingday #32 (last day of submission August 1st, 2010)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Neven's Food from the Sun

Neven's Food from the Sun
Neven Maguire
Softcover, 224 pages

I was immediately attracted to this book for two reasons - one being that Neven Maguire is a celebrated (indeed Michelin starred) chef from Ireland and I am intrigued by this country and its emerging foodie scene. Second - the entire book is based on foods from sun-kissed travel regions known for their delicious fare. A vacation in a cookbook, what could be better than that?
Neven divides the book into food-types:
Small Bites: Appetisers, Mezze, and Tapas
Vegetables and Salads
Dairy and Eggs
Pulses, Grains, and Pasta
Sweet Things

This is Neven's fifth book, and it is well laid-out with beautiful full-sized photos of many of the dishes plus ingredients and travel scenery.
You may see a theme in what I have cooked up this week, you see I have recently overcome my fear of the BBQ and have titled myself master of the grill. Thus I took every opportunity to try out his grilled fare - much to my family's delight.

We started with the Goat's Cheese Pâté with Apricot Relish. A beautifully sunny way to start the morning, all slathered on some homemade English muffins. The tangy goat cheese spread is tempered by the sweet relish that reminds me of some of the similar compotes that I have sampled in Niagara wine country. I am so happy that I can make it at home now!

And for my special meal for my daughter's once a week dinner at our house, I made Chicken Satay with Pickled Cucumber Salad. The chicken is marinated to ultimate deliciousness, grilled to perfection (thank you, thank you very much!) and served with delicious spicy Thai peanut sauce and delicate quick pickled cucumbers. Delicious!
I found I didn't need as much coconut milk in my dipping sauce as he states, but that might be more a matter of taste - texture-wise.
This dish was a big hit with the whole family.

And who can resist a burger at this time of year? We tried Neven's Inverted Cashel Blue Burger with Roasted Tomatoes and Red Onion Salad. A nugget of butter and blue cheese is nestled inside each patty, just waiting to ooze decadent deliciousness - this is the chicken Kiev of the burger world! The roasted tomatoes and red onion salad balanced the burger perfectly. We will definitely be making this again.

Oooh! And another fave was the Chargrilled Thai Beef Salad. Neven is certainly the master of the marinade - the meat is so flavourful and just tender and perfect layered with the crisp salad and herbs. My husband and I are huge fans of Thai flavours.

And last night we had the Vietnamese-style Grilled Five-spice Chicken Thigh Salad. Look at that perfect striping! I told you I was the master... ;-)
Since the Thai beef salad was such a hit and so perfect for summer, we were eager to try this salad. Just the smell of the perfectly marinated chicken hitting the grill was nirvana, you could definitely imagine yourself on vacation. (You know, if you block out the knowledge that you will be doing dishes later..)
This was a delicious salad, Neven actually has you slice the chicken thighs but mine had bones so I left them whole. One thing that I have learned - my baby (okay, he is 17) is much more excited to eat a salad that has meat on top. We served this with some steamed jasmine rice for a perfect summer meal.

What can we say? We loved all the dishes we tried. I love the concept of travel within a cookbook, I can't wait to taste more!
Other bookmarked recipes include:
Oven-roasted Dublin Bay Prawns with Tomato and Chilli
Crispy Fried Squid with Harissa and Crème Fraîche
Aubergine and Mozzarella Parcels with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Turkey Moussaka
Harissa Roast Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Lamb Rogan Josh
Black Cod with a Sweet Basil Crust and Roasted Vine Tomatoes
Coconut Pearls in Coconut Milk with Caramelised Bananas
Lemon and Mango Cheesecake

Here's to having the world on your plate!