Friday, June 29, 2012

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin, a famous french upside-down tarte filled with apples
which are caramelized in butter and sugar

Today I would like to present a famous classic french tarte -- Tarte Tatin. A tarte that I have never heard before I married a Frenchman. The first time I tasted it was when we were in Marrakesh, Morocco. Yes, in a very chic upmarket restaurant  which serves mostly french expatriates and tourists. It was served in a small ceramic tarte dish with a scope of vanilla ice-cream at the side, Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" was playing in the background. After all these years, I can still remember how it was served and how it tasted, purely because it was so good!! The best thing is.. it is not difficult to make :) but very addictive..

Try to use apples which are not easly melt into apple sauce for this dish cause you would want to have apples which are soft but doesn't lost it's shape after cooking. I used Braeburn, a variety which is not too expensive with a good balance of sweetness and acidity.

So here's what you need and how:

6          Apples (peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges per apple)
1          Puff pastry
150g    Caster sugar
100g    Butter
1/2       Lemon juice
A pinch of seasalt

  1. First peeled, cored and cut apples in wedges. I cut each apple into 6 wedges then toss those in half a lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt butter with a pinch of salt over low heat. When butter is almost melted sprinkle on caster sugar.. Do Not Stir. Let it melt slowly, when the sugar is wet but not yet all melted.. add in the apple wedges, arrange nicely to put in a maximum of apple wedges as well as for a good presentation. You might have extra apples that can not fit in the pan in the beginning, but soon when the apples are cooked and soften, you will have space.
  3. Turn all apple wedges to cook evenly as well as to have a good coat of the caramel. You should see a good amount of apple juice mix-in the caramel to creat a thick sauce. If it is too dry, add in more butter.
  4. When apple wedges are nicely caramelized, cover it with the puff pastry make sure to make a hole in the middle of the puff pastry to let steam out.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and puffed.
  6. Serve warm or cold with or without a scope of ice cream.

Tarte Tatin

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rocket pesto sourdough bread

Pesto sourdough boule

The other day while doing my shopping in the supermarket. I came across some Rockets at a good price. So I bough a bag, knowing that this is great to go with pizza (with a strong vinaigrette) and I saved a big bunch to make a pesto.

I like to have a pot of pesto in my fridge cause it is great to cook up a last minute pasta dish or a dip for a quick Entrée. We did enjoy some as a dip and the rest I used it in this bread.. Really happy with the result. Not only the green comes out beautifully but the aroma of the garlic, olive oil, parmesan and rocket make this bread so tasty. Throw on a bit of chopped basil and tomatoes, drizzled on more olive oil and we had Brustchetta as Entrée the next day. Very happy!!

To make the Rocket Pesto;
  • 75g  rocket (about one big bunch)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 100g pine nuts (I didn't have pine nuts on that day, so I used roasted almond)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  1. In a blender, blend all the above ingredients till thick and smooth.
  2. Place in a glass jar and pour over more extra virgin olive oil to cover and store in the fridge.

Pesto sourdough bread

For the sourdough bread:

500gm        Country bread flour
350gm        Cold water
10gm          Sea salt
5gm            Fresh yeast cake
100gm        Whole wheat sourdough starter

Day 1:

  1. Mix Flour, starter and cold water to form a thick mass. Allow dough to autolyse for an hour meaning just walk away or get yourself a cup of tea. This is to allow the dough to absorb the water.
  2. Now dissolve your yeast cake in 1 or 2 table spoons of warm water and knead in the dough. Let rest for another 30 minutes then mix in the salt.
  3. Let rest for 3 hours or more depend of the weather til you see the dough has doubled, then start to do the stretch and fold. I do all my stretch and fold in my round plastic tub. I use a spoon/rubber spatula to scoop up dough from the side of the tub fold it towards the center ( at this point of time, the gluten has developed and it should not break easily) while turning the tub to the left. This is 1. Do a  20 count of these stretch and fold, let rest for 30minutes then come back a to do another of this stretch and fold with an interval of 30 minutes.
  4. After 3 sets of stretch and fold, put the tub in the fridge for a good 24 hours or even 36 hours. This is important if you want a very airy and light crumbs. There is not much of kneading to do but a lot of stretch, fold and wait. The long cold retardation does give the bread more flavour and character too.
Day 2:

  1. Take the tub out of the fridge, let it warm up 30 mins.  Turn out dough on to lightly dusted work surface.
  2. Lightly pat into a round disc, and spread on the rocket pesto but leave a border of an inch for sealing. Gently bring up one side to meet the other side and seal.
  3. Shape it into a boule.
  4. Cover and proof for an hour. Do the finger test by pressing lightly into dough: dough that springs back immediately and leaves no indentation indicates underproofing.  If the dough springs back somewhat but still leaves a discern indentation then it's proofed properly - with just enough rise left to give you some nice oven spring.  But if the indentation just stares back at you you've probably let it ferment too long.
  5. Preheat the oven at 220C with baking stone. You will need steam for a nice crust. For the steam, you can either spay the oven door every 2 minutes for the first 10 minutes of baking or you can pour some boiling water in to the lower tray of the oven. Since I am baking with a mini oven, I spray the oven walls.
  6. Just before baking, turn the boule out from the linen lined basket onto a baking paper dust with semolina, slash two or three times. I use a non-stick cake pan, so I just slide the pan on to the baking stone and bake.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes with steam, and another 20 – 25 minutes at 200C without steam, or until the crust is golden brown or to your likeness. Take the boule out and tap at the back, if sounds hollow means it's cooked. Put them back into the oven without the baking pan with oven door ajar for another 10mins.
  8. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool then slice and enjoy!
Sending this to  Yeast spotting

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Pepperoni and Chorizo Pizza

Homemade pepperoni chorizo pizza

Pizza dough was the first kind of bread I learnt and I would recommend any new baker to try to make their own pizza, as homemade pizza is way better then store bough ready-to-pop-in-the-oven pizza. I don't even want to talk about frozen pizza.. it's just yeak!!

Ready to go into oven

Making our own pizza doesn't takes too much of time actually. For those who works, it's just a matter of time management. Before going to work get your dough ready and pop it into the fridge, when you come home dough is ready to roll out. While the dough rest, prepare your tomato sauce which takes only a maximum of 20mins from chopping onion, garlics and tomatoes together to simmering into a thick sauce.

Slidely burn chorizo, crispy garlic and bubbling mozzarella on a sourdough pizza

Personally, I think the two most important key for a good pizza is the dough and the tomato sauce.  Sauce has to be well season and thick enough cause this is what gives the dough flavour. As for the dough's texture, it has to have a good crispy crust and a cottony interior.

So this is what I do usually, I use 400 g of the dough for our pizza and the rest I use it as a fermented dough to make our daily bread the next day.

Pizza dough
200g            starter (100% hydration)
250g            Flour
125g            Warm Water
1/4 tsp          instant yeast
10g               salt

Tomato sauce
1cup      chopped tomato
1cup      Leek (sliced)
2 gloves Garlic (minced)
2Tbsp    Olive oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp      sugar

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir the warm water into the sourdough starter.
  2. Then add flour, salt and yeast. Mix to combine, then knead till smooth and slightly sticky.
  3. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased container, and allow it to rise till it's just about doubled in bulk. This might take 2 to 4 hours. A lot depends on how vigorous your starter is and also the temperature in the kitchen. For a faster rise, place the dough somewhere warm (or increase the yeast). But for those who has to go to work, Just replace the warm water to cold water and let it rise slowly in the fridge. When you are ready to use the dough say 10 hours later, just take it out of the fridge and press it into a baking pan. 
  4. Using your palm gently press the dough to the edge of the baking pan(to your desire thickness)  which is dusted with corn meal, let rest for 15 min.
  5. Coat the dough with some olive oil (to prevent it from soggy from the toppings) and use a fork poke the surface with holes to prevent bubbling. Pre-bake it in a preheated oven at 200C for about 8 mins.
  6. To prepare the sauce, In a pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil, brown the garlic, then in sliced leek fried til fragrance and slidly brown. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, season and simmer til thick.
  7. Remove pan from the oven and spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza. then sprinkle a little more sliced garlic if desire.
  8. Back into the oven again for another 8 to 10 min or until cheese melt and topping done to your likeness.
  9. Remove from the oven, loosen it onto a cutting board and serve hot with a green salad.
* Beware not to over load your pizza with sauce and toppings, as this is usually the key to soggy pizza.

Sending this to Yeast Spotting and Sourdough Surprises

Sinfully good...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pie)


Spanakopita / Spinach Feta triangles

Pan fried Spanakopita triangles

While chating with my dear friend (Dal) not long ago, she mentioned that she had Spanakopita. Huh?? Spa.. what?? what's that, Dal?? sounds so alien.. "No Syl, it's actually a Greek spinach feta cheese pie." "Try it and blog about it.."

So tried and blog about it I am.. Yes, I googled it and it's such an easy recipe and great for dinner or even party food. Love the idea of making LM eat vegetables without complaining.. He actually ate 6 of these triangles.. Happy me :)

So here's the recipe adapted from allrecipes:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds spinach, rinsed and chopped (I used frozen spinach)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
8 sheets phyllo dough (I didn't have phyllo pastry so I used spring roll wrapper)
1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned. Stir in spinach (If use frozen spinach, preheat the spinach in microwave as per instruction from packet.)and parsley, and continue to saute until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in spinach mixture. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough in prepared baking pan, and brush lightly with olive oil. Lay another sheet of phyllo dough on top, brush with olive oil, and repeat process with two more sheets of phyllo. The sheets will overlap the pan. Spread spinach and cheese mixture into pan and fold overhanging dough over filling. Brush with oil, then layer remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each with oil. Tuck overhanging dough into pan to seal filling. Bake in preheated oven 200C for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve while hot.
  3. Since mine are in a triangle form, so I pan fried them till crisped and serve with a green salad for a light and healthy dinner.