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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Pain Provençal – French bread, a recipe

Experimentation is the name of the game

homemade bread with sesame seeds

Also to finally settle on a favourite bread I experimented for ten years with bread-baking before I found the one I’m going to share with you here. (See also my favourite Vital Vinaigrette.)

woman pulling hair(On the side…)  As far as experimenting goes, the same goes for learning how to write a blog in WordPress: sometimes it takes a while before you find what you need or like best.  What a daunting affair at first, even after all those years of working with PC’s.  Now I want to do my business website in WebMatrix but I’m not much of a programmer.  Don’t have the patience for it.  Was quite happy with Frontpage, but can’t use that anymore, and with Windows 7 Home Premium Spanish, WebMatrix only installs in Spanish because WebPI does not accept my English setting!  Tried forums, the lot, no luck so far.  To tackle something you don’t like, in a language you don’t master, aaarrrgh!

So what do I do instead of pulling out my hair?  I bake bread, hoping that after that accomplishment I’ll feel competent enough, albeit briefly, to tackle the challenge once more.  Glorious, homemade bread.  I never eat anything else anymore.  Have you seen that long list of unpronounceable ingredients on factory bread labels?  Those are mainly chemicals.  Were our bodies made to digest chemicals?  Not that kind.  As a supertaster I am particularly fussy.

dough ballOnly 3 minutes of kneading!

The beauty of this dough is that it doesn’t need much kneading.  Just a couple of minutes until it’s smooth.  The more you knead it, the more gluten it releases in any case.

Apologies for the quality of the pictures.  My camera fell a while ago and now only provides pics with a pink hue!  Other than the sesame seed bread, all the bread pics were taken with a mobile phone.  But I hope you’ll also think that it’s the thought that counts.  It’s not a photography blog.  It’s not a food blog.  I can get away with murder, yes?

This is what you’ll be making

homemade spelt bread Pain Provençal

Or two large loaves as on top.

silicon pastry brushThe original recipe (adapted by me here) comes from a Kitchenaid bread machine recipe book.  It’s a cold dough recipe and takes five hours in the machine to prepare.  Then you shape it, let it rise and bake it.  But it’s also very easy to make by hand, and you don’t have to be that proactive!

You’ll need

  • large bowl
  • large wooden spoon
  • measuring jug
  • measuring spoons
  • plastic wrap
  • dough knife (optional)
  • pastry brush (ideally silicon)
  • rolling pin (optional)
  • paper kitchen towels
  • baking tray lined with baking paper
  • aluminium foil
  • draught-free place to let the dough rise
  • oven

See these two columns?  I’m so proud of myself – got into html today: googled ‘two columns in wordpress,’ et voilà, piece of bread. 🙂

Ingredients

  • 500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 625 ml (2½ cups) spelt flour (125 ml (½ cup) of this could also be wholewheat or rye)
  • 125 ml (½ cup) sunflower seeds (optional), more of these for sprinkling (or sesame seeds for sprinkling)
  • 1¾ tsp seasalt
  • 14 g (½ oz) instant yeast, about 1 Tblsp
  • 1 Tblsp brown sugar (or honey, molasses)
  • 375 – 400 ml (1½ cup – 1½ cup + 2 Tblsp) lukewarm water – a little warmer than body temperature.  Boil water and add a little to cold water in measuring jug until you have the right temperature and quantity.
  • 20 ml (4 tsp) olive oil

Instructions

  • Mix dry ingredients in bowl and mix well with hand whisk (add honey or molasses after this if you replace sugar)
  • Pour the water (but not all) and mix using the wooden spoon; when it begins to be absorbed, add oil and mix well;
    if you can manage, use only one hand to start kneading until it’s well mixed (Martha always told us to keep one hand free for the telephone!)
  • If the flour cannot all be absorbed, add a little more water
  • Oil a clean, smooth counter and drop the dough (scraping any remaining pieces from the bowl with it); now lightly oil the bowl – never mind that it’s not completely clean

TIP: While kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky, but not cling to your hands, nor should it be so dry that you cannot knead the cracks out of it.  Too wet: sprinkle a little more flour on the dough and work this in; too dry: add a little more water but very little at a time because it gets too wet very quickly.

  • Knead well for just a few minutes until the dough is smooth
  • Drop into oiled bowl, turn around, and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap; place in comfortably warm, draught-free space for about 1½ hours (dough doubles in size)

risen dough

Dough rising in bowl

  • dough cutDrop dough onto clean, lightly oiled counter and divide into four equal parts (can use a scale)
  • Roll out one part with roller or press with hands into rectangular shape; gently roll up the dough, but not too tightly

Rolling dough

  • Run a barely wet finger (lukewarm water) along the outer edge and pinch the seam close; place on baking paper, seam down
  • Repeat for remaining three – I forgot it here but at this point you can give a couple of diagonal slashes, not too deep, about 1¼cm (½”) deep
  • Lightly brush dough, one at a time, with lukewarm water and sprinkle with sunflower or sesame seeds
  • Cover with lightly oiled plastic; place in comfortably warm, draught-free space for about 45 minutes – last 10 minutes, preheat oven on 200ºC (425ºF)

Rolled dough is rising

Ready to bake at last!

  • For the small loaves, bake a total of 25 minutes, for the large ones, 35 to 40 minutes – exact time varies per oven
  • The last 10 to 15 minutes you may need to cover them with foil if you see that the tops/seeds are browning too much
  • Remove, let cool on a rack.

Bon appétit!

Mixed lettuce with vinaigrette, homemade bread topped with grilled cheese, chili-tomato chutney and un verre de vin de Bourgogne!

Pungent & Peppery Arugula + Vinaigrette recipe

I’ll admit it, pungent and peppery are neither names nor nouns but how else could I get arugula in?  Still, they are P-words, so here goes.

Pungent and Peppery Arugula with mixed salad

~ Vinaigrette recipe follows in a tick ~

Most of summer I eat green salad on a regular basis.  When I don’t have it growing in the garden, I simply buy arugula to mix with the lettuce greens – it always adds a little spirit!  In this part of Europe arugula is better known as rocket, roquette when in France, and rucola in the Netherlands.

I top my mixed greens with thinly sliced red onion, a few strips of sun-dried tomato or cherry tomatoes and Kalamata olives if I can get them and sometimes finely sliced carrot.

And if I remember I sprinkle it all with a few tablespoons of oat bran.  Weird, you may think?  It has a nutty flavour and apparently excels at transporting junk – not this salad :), just other stuff you eat – out of your body because of its ‘cling-to’ quality.  Also absorbs excess salad dressing, which I am often guilty of.

Bit of cheese goes well too: blue, mozzarella or freshly grated Parmesan.

A fruity alternativeJuicy minneola on mixed green salad

And for something entirely different (replacing above suggestions), top the mixed greens with slices of avocado, sliced orange or minneola, toasted pinenuts and crushed black pepper.

Vinaigrette – homemade

For a decade or so I experimented with making vinaigrettes.  Too bitter, too sour, too bland, too this, that and the other.

Until I got it right.  The following has been my faithful salad companion for at least ten years since I said Eureka!

Best Vinaigrette ever!Vital Vinaigrette

  • 100 ml olive oil (7 Tblsp)
  • 50 ml vinegar (3 Tblsp + 1 tsp)
    (50/50 apple cider vinegar with Balsamic)
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) grainy mustard
  • pinch salt & pepper each
  • pinch green dried herb (dill, fennel, etc.)
  • 1 small garlic clove – crushed (optional)
  • 15 to 30 ml (1 – 2 Tblsp)  liquid honey
    (or better still, maple syrup)

Shake it all well in a small bottle.

Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks – vinegar preserves and so does mustard.

After taking the pics – sorry, I’m no food photographer – I ate above salad to the last morsel!

Now you can enjoy it too. 🙂

Pavlova – a recipe

The most scrumptious dessert I’ve ever made and eaten was a Mango Pavlova.

Image

The recipe, with picture, was in one of my Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks, the best range of cookbooks I’ve ever used as all instructions are clear and there are many, many good photos inspiring you to plan, shop, cook, entertain & eat.  For me, a cookbook is not really a cookbook without mouthwatering colour pictures.  AWW was (is) always there to please.

Friends and family members all asked for the recipe (I made it several times) and there was even a guest who claimed he normally never ate dessert and during this rare occasion when he did, asked for seconds.  Yum yummie!

The recipe is available online these days (what isn’t ?).  Click here or on the picture to pull up the recipe in a new window.

On the topic of beating egg whites, always make sure that

  • the whites are completely free of yolk (therefore, split one egg at a time in a separate bowl and only then add each white to the bowl in which you are going to beat them)
  • the bowl and whisk are clean and grease-free (adhering to these two, I’ve always managed to beat them stiff in a jiffy!)

Bonne chance & Bon appétit!

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