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Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’

We’ve all made pesto, right? Well, maybe not everyone, so here I will share my favourite recipe. You can use this mix as a dip, on toasts, as a base for pizza, a sandwich or even a dollop in the middle of a lovely creamed soup. It’s quite flavourful so you don’t need a lot of it. I usually just eyeball this recipe, but this time I got out the scale and measuring cups so I could have tangible measurements.

A delicious combo of flavours

A delicious combo of flavours

Traditional Pesto

Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 30 g fresh basil, leaves removed, washed and dried
  • 40 g (1/3 cup) toasted pine nuts
  • 35 g (1/3 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3 cloves of garlic (about 10 g) or to taste
  • EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a food processor with metal blades combine the basil, pine nuts (make sure they are cool), Parmesan and garlic. Pulse adding a slow stream of EVOO to the consistency desired (I like my Pesto a little chunky and not too wet).
  2. Add salt to taste, but remember that the Parmesan is rather salty.
  3. Serve mixed into warm pasta with quartered grape tomatoes and shaved parmesan.
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Quartered Grape Tomatoes add a lovely acidity to the dish.

 

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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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When I was 29 I contracted Mononucleosis for the first time (even though it is commonly known as a teenagers illness, I’d never had it before). We had been invited to a brunch at a friend of a friend’s place (we usually met up at a pub but this time it was brunch at her place) and one of the guests had it. Ironically this guest was the daughter of a nurse and she STILL ill advised her to attend the brunch in a totally infectious state. Two of us (Barb and I) were gifted with Mono that day. I was reminded of this story because my friend Charlie’s daughter (Hotly Spiced) is suffering through ‘the glange‘ herself (glange in Australia, Mono in North America — hey, I wonder what they call it in England?).

I was home for about a month from work, and my boss was very understanding. In those days we only had internet by dial up, so it was quite painful doing any form of work. But they kindly sent home a large paperweight Mac and some floppies so I can drudge through my boring day. The nature of the illness is that it robs you of any energy, so I worked for a bit, but mostly watched TV like a zombie which for the by and large was brutally bad in those days.

Chewy and lightly scented with Rosemary

There were a spattering of cooking shows on TV during that time, I don’t believe Food Network existed or it was just being born. At any rate, I got onto Biba’s Italian Kitchen. I loved her food and how accessible she made it (like John does at from the Bartolini Kitchens). I was sleepy watching Biba when she started making a sponge for focaccia bread. Now this is interesting…I jumped up (OK, maybe I wasn’t as close to death as I may have made out I was) and grabbed the nearest scrap of paper and oil pastel (OK I may have also been drawing in bed) and scribbled down the recipe. Years later JT bought me her cookbook Trattoria Cooking which is not as impressive as I had hoped (no photos at all). But the Focaccia recipe is in it and I recently made it for a dinner party we had.

Where is that special EVOO I’ve been saving?

Rosemary Focaccia

Adapted from Biba’s Trattoria Cooking

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. My sponge was very wet, so I had to add quite a bit more flour to the mix. You want the sponge a little softer and sticker 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 loosely packed rosemary leaves, washed and dried
  • 3 tbsp EVOO, 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. Bake until focaccia is golden in colour.
  5. I like a chewy focaccia, so I generally brush water on the entire surface after it has finished baking (the crust won’t set hard this way). Serve warm with your best olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

You can also see some pretty impressive focaccia bread recipes below:

http://rufusguide.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/rosemary-and-caramalized-onion-foccacia/

http://www.inspirededibles.ca/2011/07/stone-baked-kamut-focaccia-with-fresh.html

http://angiesrecipes.blogspot.ca/2011/02/rosemary-cranberry-focaccia-with-pine.html

http://fromthebartolinikitchens.com/2011/03/02/spianata/

http://www.kitchenbelleicious.com/2011/08/24/chipotle-olive-foccacia/

http://thatskinnychickcanbake.blogspot.ca/2012/05/provencal-olive-fougassefrench-fridays.html

 

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We’re back to the old grind as they say; 10 hours of laundry, and a little grocery shopping later I’m back in my kitchen ready to cook up a storm!
Both JT and I picked up head colds while we were away; you know, the nasty, sneezey, sniffley, coughy kind? Chicken soup to the rescue! Everyone has their cold-cure secret recipe handed down from generation to generation so I won’t blog about it now, but what I will blog about is the amazing olive bread I made to accompany the cold cure soup! WARNING: you have to really LOVE olives, it will be too olivey if you’re just so-so on them!
We had this particular olive bread several times (almost every time) during our trip, it’s addictive. You just can’t stop! Not sure if I mentioned this before, but Moroccan food is not well salted, which is good because most of the time I find restaurant food too salty. This bread, on the other hand, is on the salty side, which goes perfectly with Moroccan food, or cold cure chicken soup. I found the recipe at Cooking with Alia please recall I made her Sellou as one of my Trio of Moroccan desserts. Since it worked so well, I thought I’d try her Moroccan Olive Bread. We made a typical Moroccan Bread at Maison MK in Marrakech and I discovered that Moroccan bread tends to be ‘shaggier’ than Western bread (looser and sticky to start). Then, after a rising, you add flour little by little to pull in the dough until it is no longer sticky. I think I used an additional cup of flour for this step! Bottom line it worked like a charm! Light, fluffy very olive tasting bread. DELICIOUS!
Another thing I should mention is that I used real Moroccan olive oil and its taste is so unique and delicious, I don’t think normal olive oil will do. But if you can’t find the genuine Moroccan olive oil, be sure to use the darkest and richest olive oil you can find, it will make a difference. Also, I halved the recipe but left the olive oil as full quantity! The technique is what we learned in Maison MK.
Thanks Alia, this recipe will be definitely made again in our home.

Moroccan Olive Bread

Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups of flour (keep extra flour on the side for kneading)
    • 3/4 cup of warm water
    • 3 oz of black olives cut into small pieces (I used 1/2 sun dried and 1/2 kalamata)
    • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
    • 1 tablespoons of thyme (I had only 1 tsp and it was fine)
    • 1/2 tablespoon of dry yeast
    • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions:

  1. Activate the dry yeast (I used instant) with the sugar and warm water. Let the yeast mixture rest for 5 minutes. The yeast is active if the mixture expands and bubbles up.
  2. Add the olive oil, thyme, and salt to the yeast mixture.
  3. Gradually add the flour to the mixture until the flour is completely absorbed. You will end up with a very sticky/shaggy dough.
  4. Fold the olives into the dough.
  5. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, the dough doubles in volume. Sprinkle your workspace generously with flour and place the dough over it.
  7. Sprinkle the dough with flour and knead for the next 10 minutes using the palm of your hand. Add flour to the dough until you end up with a malleable non-sticky dough. It should just be non-sticky, not shiny like regular bread dough. You will know when the dough stops sticking to your hand.
  8. You can make round breads by flattening the ball of dough with the palm of your hand and then pinch the edges up and in to make a nice ball.
  9. Transfer the bread pinched side down onto a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Flatten a little with the palm of your hand.
  10. Cover the boule and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat your oven to 420° F degrees.
  12. Place your baking pan in the lower third of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until done. I like a slightly crustier crumb, so next time I will brush with egg white, like you do with a French stick! Or you can also put a pan of water in the oven with the bread for the first 15 minutes.

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