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Do you love West Indian food? We do, particularly West Indian Rôti and fortunately there are a couple of really great places to get takeout near our home, but I’ve always wondered how to make them at home. Believe it or not, it was surprisingly easy and not very time consuming at all. In fact, I probably spent more time searching techniques to make the Rôti than actually making the roti! And the curry was just popped into the slow cooker and cooked all day with little to no attention! Can you believe it?

The following few posts are of West Indian Curried Chicken Rôti, I hope you give it a try, it was incredibly tasty!

Roti_2092

It’s not that difficult to make, it’s more about technique than anything else.

I finally settled on Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Trinidadian Chicken Rôti and I even made his roti bread, but to be honest I wasn’t entirely happy with it. My rôti from Chef Samuelson’s recipe did not turn out soft and pliable nor did it have the layers that our local rôti joint makes so I went back to the drawing board and found this recipe and very good video tutorial and my first attempt worked out perfectly! It’s definitely not as calorie conscious as I would normally like, but then again we won’t be indulging too often and I bet it’s a bit healthier than the takeout version!

As it turns out, the rôti is more or less a laminated dough, which means you add some kind of grease and fold the rolled dough to create the layers. The recipe I used was made with white flour but I altered it a bit with whole wheat and it really didn’t change the mouth feel or texture, I also reduced the oil for laminating quite a bit. I’m definitely going to incorporate this wonderful dish into our Cottage Repertoire!

Roti_2095

It’s kind of a cross between a Naan and a Crêpe

West Indian Rôti Bread

Makes 2 30 cm (12 inch) rôti breads. Please click here for original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Combine the flours, shortening and baking powder in a large bowl. Rub the shortening into the flours well.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water a little at a time until the dough comes together (it should be relatively soft and shaggy but not sticky).
  3. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Combine the vegetable oil and butter and melt in a microwave. It’s OK to use this if it is warm, but not boiling.
  5. Divide the rested dough into two evenly sized balls. With a little flour on the work surface, roll out each dough to about 30 cm or 12 inches in diameter (it will be very thin).
  6. Using a pastry brush, brush the vegetable oil and butter combo on the circle (I used a relatively light touch and it still worked out beautifully!).
  7. Using the technique described in this video, slice a single cut into the circle from the edge to the centre. Begin folding a triangle, going all the way around the circle.
  8. Then flip the cone up so the point is downward. From the wider end on top, pull the outer sides into the roll to seal it. Then flip it again so the pointy end is up, and using your forefinger and middle finger press the point down into the roll. Repeat for the second circle. The video is excellent, so if you have time, please watch it.
  9. Cover these laminated balls with a damp paper towel and allow to rest 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  10. Once rested, lightly flour your work surface and roll out the laminated dough to about 30 cm or 12 inches in diameter. In the meantime, using a large flat cast iron pan, heat to medium heat.
  11. Cook the first side for about 2 minutes, and then flip. Brush the top side with some of the remaining oil butter mixture, then flip and brush the second side. The instructions were quite explicit not to brush the bread first, you must cook the first side before brushing.
  12. Repeat cooking for the second roti.
  13. Store in an airtight container or zip lock bag so it doesn’t dry out.

Laminating

Laminating2

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This is the roti with Chef Samuelson’s slightly modified Chicken Curry.

Chicken Roti_2097

An authentic West Indian Roti

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Today I celebrate another benchmark birthday. All I could think of is, I can’t really be THAT age! But what the heck, like wine, we only get better with age, right? — that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

JT organized a beautiful little cocktail party of our closest friends and family yesterday and it was lovely. Of course, I prepared a lot of the food and I’ll be posting about a few new things soon. In the meantime, here are a few great recipes from the Canada Day long weekend. Cheers!

An early morning paddle shows the sparkly lake.

An early morning paddle shows off the sparkly lake.

The old boathouse built by JTs grandfather in the late 1800's

The old boathouse built by JTs grandfather in the late 1800’s

I’ve mentioned before that our cottage is rather remote and we don’t have very good grocery stores close by, in fact the closest is about 45 minutes away and it takes about 20 minutes just to get out to the main highway to get there so planning is essential. Recently we had our lovely friends Rae and Monica up for the weekend and so I put together a great menu plan that allowed for reinventing left overs. One such left over was a combination of several of the meals that resulted in 4 fantastic flat breads that we used as hors d’œuvres on Sunday night. Each of these flatbreads are fantastic on their own, but the variety is also quite lovely. Plus, all of the ingredients are available ready made if you aren’t as fortunate to have left overs.

Quick and Easy Flat Bread Hors D’œuvres

Italian Delight: Gorgonzola, Parmesan and Parsley with Walnuts

The sharp Gorgonzola was a lovely contrast to the candied walnuts

The sharp Gorgonzola was a lovely contrast to the candied walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1 oz gorgonzola
  • 1 oz grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts candied with balsamic
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf Italian Parsley
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions:

  1. Peel the garlic and cut it in half. Rub one side of the naan with the cut side until it leaves the naan fragrant.
  2. Add cumbled gorgonzola and grated parmesan. Sprinkle with the candied walnuts. (To candy the walnuts, simply add the walnuts to a saucepan with about 2-4 tbsp of balsamic and boil until the balsamic has thickened, cool on parchment and break apart to use)
  3. BBQ until cheese has melted and then add the parsley. Cut into portions.
  4. Serve warm.

Mediterranean: Caramelized Onion, Roasted Red Peppers and Goats Cheese with Pine Nuts

Sweet and tangy Onion against the creamy goats cheese was a lovely foil for the sweet red peppers

Sweet and tangy Onion against the creamy goats cheese was a lovely foil for the sweet red peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1/2 a large caramelized onion
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper, skin off, sliced reasonably thinly
  • 3 tbsp crumbled goats cheese
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Evenly distribute the roasted red peppers on the top of the naan.
  2. Add the crumbled goats cheese and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
  3. BBQ until cheese has melted. Cut into portions.
  4. Serve warm.

Mexican: Salsa and Cilantro

The sassy flavours of Mexican  saturated the Naan well

The sassy flavours of Mexican saturated the Naan well

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 2-4 tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Evenly distribute the salsa on the Naan.
  2. BBQ until warmed through. Cut into portions.
  3. Serve warm.

Greek: Red and Yellow Peppers, Green and Yellow Zuchinni, Kalamata olives and feta

Tangy flavours and lots of texture

Tangy flavours and lots of texture

Ingredients:

  • 1 naan
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt with 1 garlic chopped into it
  • 1/4 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 yellow pepper, sliced
  • Green and Yellow zucchini sliced
  • 2 tbsp Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 tbsp crumbled feta
  • pinch of dry oregano

Directions:

  1. Spread the greek yogurt and garlic on the Naan.
  2. Lightly sauté the red, yellow peppers with the green and yellow zuchinni strips (not too soft)
  3. Evenly distribute the peppers and zuchinni on the top of the Naan, dot with the feta and Kalamata olives.
  4. Sprinkle the oregano evenly.
  5. BBQ until warmed through. Cut into portions.
  6. Serve warm.

I’ll leave you with two amazing shots of the sunset from two different nights. This is what makes the drive worth it!

Sunset1

The sunset on Friday night; red sky at night, sailors delight!

SunSet

Sunset on Sunday night, very surreal

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Spring is in the air and popping out of the ground!

This past weekend we enjoyed +11°C and it seems that the vegetation also enjoyed the warming temperatures! This lovely little hyacinth decided it had enough with winter and popped right up! There is still about ten inches of snow beside it but we’re hoping it will melt in the next few days.

Some time ago, my dear friend Charles (remember when we met in Paris last year?) made this wonderful Caramelized Onion Fakaccia and it got me thinking about the last time I made Focaccia in June 2012! Suffice it to say, we’ve gone long enough without this wonderfully flavourful Italian bread. Thank you Charles, again for the inspiration.

This is a recipe I diligently copied down in nineties in my late twenties from one of the first food shows I really got into: Biba’s Italian Kitchen. She had such a lovely accent and demeanor and I was instantly smitten with the show. I have been making this focaccia bread since then and it’s always been delicious. Today I share the same recipe but adding Charle’s beautiful inspiration for the caramelized onion. Once again, a hideous night-time photo but don’t let that fool you, it’s delicious!

The onion caramelizes further in baking the focaccia

The onion caramelizes further in baking the focaccia

Sweet Onion Confit Focaccia

Adapted from Biba’s Trattoria Cooking and Charles’ Five Euro Food Fakaccia

Makes one 12″ x 18″ sheet of focaccia

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp quick rising dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup lukewarm water

Directions:

  1. Prepare the sponge by mixing the flour and yeast water together and knead for 3-4 minutes by machine. You want the sponge a lot softer and stickier than a normal bread dough.
  2. Allow to rise in a bowl wrapped tightly with plastic wrap for 2-3 hours (I proofed my sponge in the fridge overnight, cover lightly in olive oil).

Focaccia Ingredients second rising:

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp quick rising dry yeast dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion confit, please click here for the recipe
  • 3 tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil(, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. If you have proofed your sponge in the fridge like I did, you will need to allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the second rising in your mixing bowl with a dough hook attachment. Add the sponge and kneed energetically for about 5-7 minutes. After kneading, the dough should be smooth and pliable.
  3. Cover with a light drizzle of olive oil and tightly wrapped plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 450°F for 30 minutes before baking. Lightly oil a 10″ x 14″ cookie sheet and roll out the foccacia until it is about 1/2″ thick or to the edges. Dimple with your fingers. Spread the sweet onion confit over the entire surface. Bake until focaccia is golden in colour.
  5. Serve warm with your best EVOO and balsamic vinegar.

Suggested uses:

  • Base for quick pizza.
  • Sandwich bread.
  • Croutons for soup.
  • Croutons for stuffing.
  • Vehicle for dips.

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I released the polenta squares too early! So annoyed with myself so I thought I’d follow it up with some more tapas. I wrote this post before our trip thinking that I’ll be swamped and jet-lagged when we get back, so glad I did because I so am all of the above. Work is nice and busy, I got a great little freelance job in and I’m ready for bed at 8pm most nights! I’m not complaining, just giving you the lay of the land.
I had mentioned that I love tapas dinner parties, so the Sunday before our holiday we had friends Rae and Monica over for a simplified tapas dinner party; their two youngest girls went to a concert close by and they needed to kill a few hours, so we said, come on over! We didn’t have a lot of time, so I had to abbreviate the standard 3×4 courses, so we only had 4×1 courses in total. It was plenty of food. In fact, I had to forgo one of the planned courses; fortunately tapas are make as you go so nothing went to waste, we just had it for dinner later in the week.

I’m also trying Instagram on my iPhone 4Gs, not quite as nice as the Canon, but pretty close. It really does better during the daylight as opposed to night. I never use the flash, mainly because my 3Gs never had one, so I really don’t miss it. What do you think?

Abbreviated Tapas Dinner Party

Sawsans Flat Bread with Tapenade and John’s home made Ricotta

Because you fold the tapenade and ricotta into the dough, it makes it flavourful throughout

Chilled cucumber shooters with greek yogurt. I made the soup with vegetable stock as we had a vegetarian in our midst.

Very tasty little shots

Sizzling garlic Shrimp with cilantro and lemon with home made spelt fajita shells

I thought I made too much food…not

Gluten-free Honey Ginger Cake with fresh figs, candied ginger slices and edible rose petals

No one was gluten-free, but I had some left over cake from the previous night


Lyon and Paris also had to be broken down into two parts, too much stuff to talk about, you’ll see why. I’ll need a vacation from my vacation!

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The long weekend a few weeks ago proved to be as beautiful as the weatherman promised, if not more so. Other than the bites from the black flies and mosquitos, it was darn near perfect. High 20°C during the day, and cool enough to sleep in without having to turn on the heat. Perfect I say!

You may recall that I posted Sawsan’s recipe a while ago for feta and basil flat bread, but frankly my omission of the olive oil did not do it justice, at all. I had frozen about half the dough waiting on a perfect opportunity to try it again (the olive oil was to be added when rolling out the flat bread, so I was good to go!).

You see how flaky the flat breads became with the olive oil? We cooked them on a well oiled griddle on the BBQ because it was too hot to turn on the oven.

The long weekend presented the perfect time because we were in need of hors d’œuvres for cocktails; this time I did not skimp on the olive oil. Sawsan, I MUST say it was marvelous! JT said the BEST he has had. I had a hard time not sampling them (I did try a couple, OK, maybe a few, but that’s IT!). We shared them with JT’s sister (known as Sid) and husband and the Ceement Boy (nephew Brian — I’ll get into that story sometime soon). We had polished most of it off when Ceement Boy dropped his wine glass onto the side of the dish and it broke into smithereens! He was trying to keep up with me as I broke a wine glass the night before! The cheddar dip can be found here.

The flat bread could have been even better had I made my own feta, like John (from the Bartolini Kitchens) did here.

I will definitely make this lovely and tasty hors d’œuvres again

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As you may have noticed, I am often swayed by the recipes of my blogging friends. And this time is no different, because I fell for Sawsan of Chef in Disguise’s Fteer falahi (Cheese and anise flat bread). I had feta at home and fresh basil, so I thought I would use them (plus JT is not a huge anise fan). I had a little extra pot of the Titanic Pâté for our Sunday dinner with nephew Brian and the flat bread went very well with it.

These flat breads are soft but firm enough to hold a heavier spread, like the Titanic Pâté. Cheers!

I made only half the recipe Sawsan made because we are not huge bread eaters, and it made a lot of dough, so I froze half as raw dough and will be using it in the future. I liked the over all texture, but I did make a mistake, I didn’t brush it with oil at every fold (trying to keep the calories down). It turned out a little harder and not as chewy as I had hoped, but the flavour was certainly there. When I make the frozen batch, I will be certain to use the oil that Sawsan’s recipe recommended. As well, Sawsan recommended that I leave my dough a little thicker so it’s chewier. I can see this recipe being used for many a dips in the near future. Thank you Sawsan, you have inspired me yet again.

Fteer

Makes 2 12″ flat bread squares

Ingredients:

  • 0.5 kg all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I left this as the full recipe, JT said my bread was not salty enough!)
  • water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of sheeps milk feta cut into small 1 cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup of chiffonade of basil

Directions:

  1. In a 1/8 cup of warm water dissolve the yeast and sugar (make sure your yeast is alive!)
  2. Sift the flour and salt into your large stand mixer bowl, add the yeast/water mixture and start kneading adding water gradually till you get a soft sticky dough consistency (I added a little over 1 cup of water but the amount varies with the type of flour)
  3. Machine knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, allow to rest , covered in a warm place for half an hour (I kneaded 7 minutes).
  4. Preheat your oven to 270°C or the highest temperature it will go.
  5. Gently combine the vegetable oil and olive oil and keep it next to your working area.
  6. Wet your hands with a little oil and cut the dough into 4 balls , brush each ball in the oil mixture and allow to rest for another 10-15 minutes. (don’t skimp on the oil)
  7. Brush your working surface with a little oil, start with the first dough ball you cut and spread it into a circle roughly 25 cm or 10 inches in diameter. Sawsan has some great photos on how to fold the dough, please visit her post here.
  8. Spread your filling onto the pressed dough and begin folding, much like a croissant dough, folding the left third over the centre, then the right over the centre, then the bottom fold up one third and finally fold the top down one third. You should have a nice folded smallish square. Allow this one to rest while you start working on the next one.
  9. When you have finished all of the dough balls, go back to the first square and brush it with oil and spread it into a larger square using a rolling-pin or your hands. Then do the same with the rest.
  10. I like using my cast iron pizza pan for this type of bread and I always pre heat it. using a rolling pin, roll up the dough and carefully roll out to the heated pizza pan. Drizzle more oil on it.
  11. Bake on the middle rack of your oven. Sawsan cautions to watch it carefully as it will burn very quickly.

Thanks again, Sawsan, this one will have a repeat performance in our repertoire, it is indeed a very easy flat bread to make. Next time, I shall substitute some of the white flour for whole wheat, just because 😉

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