Saturday, 8 May 2010

Andi's New Egg Salad

Never let the lack of a certain ingredient stop you from cooking (unless of course you're lacking something vital, such as the eggs when you need to make an omelette or fajita.. it would, at that point, be recommended to stop and find something else to do or eat). One first thing you could do, if, perhaps you have no inspiration left to get you out of this one, is checking for substitutes online. They work fine most of the times (for example adding a tablespoon of butter to a cup of hot milk so you can get fresh, homemade half&half, or a tablespoon of vinegar to the same amount of dairy product, wich after roughly ten minutes of action will result in pretty authentic buttermilk).

Under such circumstances, backed up by quite an unnatural egg craving, I found myself determined to get my fix of egg salad.. when not even a drop of mayo was available. Obviously, being the lazy person that I am, I had no intention of making any. So, should you find yourself in a similar situation, or just have bad experiences with mayo (although this is an egg recipe anyway), you should definitely give this recipe a try, for which..


You will need:

1 egg
1 slice of ham
1 teaspoon of mustard
2 teablespoons of buttermilk
salt and pepper to taste (although I add neither)
optional: 1 thin slice of cheese

Start by boiling the egg. Give it a quick wash-up and place it in a tiny pan. Pour some water over until the egg is submerged and set over a medium fire. When the water starts boiling, you know you have exactly eight more minutes to wait until your egg is done. At this point, you may add a dash of salt so as to prevent the egg from cracking and looking all deformed.. but this is just up to you. After the recommended time has elapsed, you can run the egg through cold water to make the peeling easier. Place the "peeled" egg in a small bowl and mash it with a fork to the desired level of chunkiness. Afterwards, add the mustard and buttermilk and mix well, but not exaggerately well. /:) Dice the ham and, if you're using any, the cheese very very finely and add this to the bowl as well. Give it a final whip, season if necessary, and serve on fresh toast. Spreading the egg salad on toasted bread slices will keep your sandwiches/servings from getting soggy too soon. This way.. you can take your time and linger over your food, or even transfer the ready-made sandwiches to a picnic. Beware though, one egg is only enough for one serving, so if you're really really hungry or making this for more than one person, consider at least doubling the ingredients!


Cheerio,
Andi


P.S.: I really wish they would serve brunch here at the uni..

P.P.S.: I would be eternally grateful should anyone let my mom know this is what I want her to make for Christmas (besides, of course, the mushroom salad and all the other delicious, gruesomly fat traditional dishes!)

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ants Climbing Up a Bonsai

"Ants Climbing Up a Bonsai" isn't the original name of this dish, but I was facing quite a dilemma after I had finished cooking it. Not that there's anything wrong with its looks. Cus it looks good (to me). But I thought to myself.. either they are ginormous ants (of whose existence Dr. Sheldon Cooper is doubting as they would be crushed by their own exoskeleton. I completely agree with what my guru says. Shelly for president!), either the tree is really tiny. Owait! Tiny trees we do have! I am growing one myself. It's in the germinating stage now, but in ninety something years it will grow into a brave and sturdy Oak Jr. Personal orchards aside, I know the new name is, hands down, cuter than the initial english translation. I really trust the fact that "Ants Climbing Up a Tree" sounds way better in chinese. Equally important, "Six Prettiful Horses" sounds smashing in romanian.

-Interlude: thank ye mum, for on thy plate you have bringeth me this chicken burger. Yeah, not gonna hide it, I'm a junkie. No.. not that kind of junkie. You and your sleazy little mind, tsk, tsk -

Alright, moving on to details about the upcoming recipe.. The original thing is, of course, cooked in a wok. (cuaiman, google it) It is then doused with the finest soy infusions and dusted with..idk.. seahorse powder (oh lord, I hope not). In any event, all sorts of crazy condiments are added. Sitting here, all shamed and naked (wait, what?), I am thus admitting that my fanciest ingredient was dark soy sauce. That's cause of my lacking asian descent, damn it. Also, the resource lack made the preparation of this recipe seem more like a prelude for italian food. You'll feel it when you cook it. Oh boy I bet I got you all excited with my lamenting attitude. Haha. So grab you spoons and your woks and whatever and start your incursion into dem chinese food worldz. :D For this one,


You will need:


minced pork meat (about 300 grams)
one medium red onion
rice noodles (about a third of a 400 gram package - use around 100 grams and you'll be fine)
soy sauce
tomato sauce
seasonings (salt, pepper, go a little crazy and add some rosemary too)
water! (just one or two cups for the sauce)

Before anything else, you need to marinate the pork. A really good way of doing so is by putting your meat in a re-sealable plastic bag and pouring your liquid over(in this case some soy sauce) and tossing in some condiments. I learned this with great difficulty by watching Rob Rainford's cooking tv show. Learning the tools of trade from this guy is only as hard because.. the episodes focus on whatever sinful and delicious barbecue he's whipping up. Yup, he hosts an all-barbecue series. The idea is to transfer the flavour of the marinade into the meat. You can also achieve that by simply placing the minced pork in a bowl and covering it with soy sauce like I did. Wiggle it around a little bit and let it rest for half an hour. Placing that in the fridge until you're ready to use it is also a gud idea.

Alrighty. Now for the stingy part. Finely dice the onion. We all heard it won't cause any disconfort to your eyes if you peel them underwater and something something with some lemon. Ok so.. assuming you do peel it underwater.. then what? What I do so I won't get whiny about meddling with onion is pretty unconventional. I must have read it in an old lady magazine. You have to hold a match stick in your mouth, like you would a cigarette. (Whatever wtf-like expression you're thinking) I know, I know. But I swear by it!

Next, scoop your tiny onion cubes up and throw them in your mini-wok (aka skillet) over some oil. You can use either sunflower or olive oil, they both work fine. Let brown for a while but make sure you won't burn the onion. That would suck. You'd either have to replace the onion or eat gross noodles. So rly, don't. After it reaches the desired golden-brown colour, take out your meat and let it fry on top. Use a spatula to break the larger "ants" and stir occasionally until it cooks completely. When you've reached that stage, place a few dollops of tomato sauce into a small bowl and thin it up with a little water. Give it a light whisk and pour it over the cooking meat. Depending on how thick you want your sauce to be, you can add anything from one to two cups of water. It's now time to add the seasonings and the final few tablespoons of soy sauce. This will help darken your dish and add a little extra chinese kick.. Bruce Lee style. (kidding) Simmer this some more over very low heat. Meanwhile, soak your noodles into warm water for a few minutes. This process won't take as long as it would your regular flour pasta, but only 3 to 7 minutes. In any case, prepare them using the instructions on the package. When they're done, drain well and combine with the prepared sauce in the mock-wok. Makes four huge servings for y'all imaginary readers.

Cheerio,
Andi

P.S.: ..Hi!

P.P.S.: I've just figured out.. these posts only look so long because of the condensed-like template. Stewpid..

Monday, 12 April 2010

Homemade Marzipan

If peanut butter comes in two levels of chunky, why shouldn't marzipan? Unfortunately, the chunky kind of marzipan only exists in my household for now (for which thing I must thank my unprofessional food processor). The sophisticated, bittersweet taste of this dessert shouldn't lead you into thinking only the finest french chefs can delight their friends, relatives and customers with this all-season delight (although serving it as a Christmas snack is more than welcome, alongside a letter to Santy)

-Interlude: it is now time. The Santa reference really got me in the mood for Christmas. Yes, I start early, as early as the first wind of autumn. So hang on while I pop a blissful CD of carols in and start building up my enthusiasm for the winter holidays -

I never use an exact amount of ingredients for this recipe because it is so versatile you can easily mend your mistakes, if there should be any. So try playing around wih the consistency, taste it every once in a while, and see if you prefer it moist or crunchy. Personally, I like the crunchier version, because it allows you to shape it into a flat, filo pastry like shape, and use christmassy cookie cutters to give your whole dessert a way more edible look. You can even use kinky cookie cutters, I won't mind, but more about refining the marzipan after the paragraphs depicting the actual recipe. For that,


You will need:


a fistful of raw almonds
about the same quantity of confectioner's sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
one egg white (or less)
optional, food colouring
also optional, jam or ganache for filling


Like me, you will probably have to make your own almond meal, as there is no such thing available on the market. Same thing applies to half&half and other ingredients I need in order to make some bloody cookies :D. Good thing I'm moving to England next month; with a little luck I will never have to produce my own dairy products ever again! But panic not, it only takes a little extra time and effort to obtain some chunkily ground almonds. Simply buy uncooked almonds, blanch them quickly (for a minute or two), and then gently *squeeze* the seeds, one by one, so that you have a nice bunch of skinless, button-nosed almonds (butt-naked, as the ones found in coconut candies). When done, use a food processor to grind them as finely as possible (although I hear from friends, family and potential future customers using perfectly powdered almond meal isn't mandatory. So this way I accidentally added a nice twist to the recipe.)

Now that you possess the most important ingredient, combine it with roughly the same amount of powdered sugar. You will notice a slight change of colour. And by that I mean a pleasant discoloration. Add a few drops of vanilla extract. You can substitute it with almond extract in order to enhance the flavour. Leave the mixture aside in a bowl so you can crack and separate a fresh egg. You don't need to bring it to room temperature, refrigerated eggs will do just as fine. Now.. if you just happen to add a little too much egg white to the mixture (like I did.. quite a few times), don't panic. Wrap everything up in a little cling film or aluminum foil and let it sit in the fridge for half an hour. You'll see that when the time has elapsed, the consistency will be close to perfection. All it needs is a little pat on the back and it will be all gud. Flatten it with a rolling pin, cut out cute shapes, dust with a little powdered sugar and set on a plate. Now pig out. (om nom nom)


As an alternative way of serving, you can assemble two such marzipan cookies as you would a spritz cookie. Say you have two flowed-shaped marzipan servings. Cut out the centre of either of them, eat it, and sprinkle sugar on the remaining petals. Spread some jam or ganache on the other flower, and set the sugared one on top of the jammied one. I used rose jam for my stacked goodies and the flavours matched perfectly. You can also cover cakes with the resulting marzipan, and mix a part of it with some powdered cocoa for a lovely change of colour and taste. It won't be as easy as it looks on the telly, but when you're short of cake topping inspiration, this is sure to come in handy. Enjoy responsibly XD


Cheerio,

Andi

P.S.: Did anyone notice the motto change?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Eggs in a Nest

Good morning imaginary readers! Ok.. I'll have to admit it's noting even close to morning, but this is yet another of my brunchy breakfast treats. By the way, sorry if the bitten bread slice disturbs you (woot?) but this was literally my breakfast and I was pluck-my-eyes-out hungry. It might be a relief to some hearing that this is not going to be a very long post. It's prolly not going to be a short one either cause I'm planning to tell ye guise all about the blog-makeover I've been sorting out for the past weeks. However, the lack of posts mustn't be blamed on that. We should definitely blame that on the samba (cause that's pretty much all that's going on in school lately. we're supposed to be busting our asses off studying for the baccalaureate but why bother when school is bliss?). Moving on.. ah yes, the make-over. Nobody could possibly remember the fact that in my very first post I mentioned the name of my blog as having nothing to do with cooking, food styling, dieting (ew) or anything food related. Nothing could be more true. I'll think ahead. Picture this: some of my readers are not romanian, therefore cannot speak romanian. (emma rite?) Oh scram, I know not yet but it's my imagination! In their honour, I'll be making a brief translation of the blog's url. Brace yourselves honeys, cause it actually means "six beautiful horses". Killer huh? So, since I wanted to integrate more goodies into my cooking journal, I thought maybe I'd add a logo of six such animals greedily munching on some fruit and cookies. You know those little ikea plushies? I bought some of those horses for my brother's birthday last year. Six of them. I had grand plans of how I'd glue countryside strawberries to their tiny.. arms and turn them into my fat gourmet minions. I could not do so. You might think.. of course you couldn't! There's no way that's gonna stick. Well, long story short, he lost them, so I am now in the process of designing my own six beautiful horses. They'll be adorning my blog soon so stay tuned!
Meanwhile, I am answering the request of DeDe, who asked for a simple and delishus recipe for.. lazy people. Well doll, eggs in a nest is the thing for you! Some of you might know this dish from the movie V from Vendetta. They were eating these babies like crazy! To make your own,

You will need:

eggs (as many as you like; I usually eat 2)
bread slices (as many as the eggs)
a littul butter (for frying the nests)

You may want to use bread that is already sliced so you don't have to make this extra effort. Plus, it looks tidier this way. I did have some sliced bread, but it wasn't the square type.. it was just your usual potato bread (I eat that to get fat. Not working.) After you've sorted this issue out, use something to cut out the centres of your slices. How big a hole? About enough to fit your.. egg. If you want to do something really cute, you may use cookie cutters like i did. The eggs might be too large to fit in the hole you've made, so there are risks when using uni-sized cutters. Of course it happened to me too, but.. shh! Moving on, melt a little butter in a pan. Let it become hot and foamy, but watch out, it will burn easily. You will be cooking the slices individually, so place only one in the pan. Crack the egg and pour the contents in the hole you've made in the bread. When achieving the desired "doneness", flip the now formed egg nest with a spatula and let it cook on the other side as well. Don't forget to cook your cut-outs! They look extra cuddly (/:)) when served along yo breakfast. Try eating them with jam or hazelnut spread as a dessert. Or hunny!

Cheerio,
Andi

P.S.: Since my "atestat" is going to be about cooking and food styling, I thought I would be lots more convincing if I used my blog to demonstrate my thesis. Anyone think this is a good idea?

P.P.S.: Marzipan recipe tomorrow! Er.. soon!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Pomelo! Sorbet

The dessert (3rd in a row) I am showing off to you today isn't even ready yet. No, no.. it's in the freezer, waiting for me to go stir it every once in a while.. so it can still show its creamy side when I serve it along caramel sauce and bird chirping tomorrow to the guests I haven't even invited yet. Hidden within the cooking instructions, I will set loose my dearest tip for achieving perfection as a chef.. but of course you'll have to hold on through my usual love-at-first-sight encounter with the recipe! tee-hee

Forget the misleading name. This late-springy ice-creamy is nothing I'd have expected when thinking/whispering/ shouting "sorbet". Where I come from, a sorbet is a very sweet cream you're not allowed to eat very much of because it's so vintage your parents only buy it after encountering long-lost friends. Also, it is so sweet even cavities fear it. Or do they?
Either way, no, sorbet-sorbet is just a luscious way of saying ice-cream. In a way it is entitled to be the bearer of a fancier name. After all, among its flavours we will never find labels such as "crazy mango" or "pear-twisted-with-almond-chunky-goodness" or stuff that Ben&Jerry's are supposed to come up with. Au contraire, the elegance of names involving "sorbet" is best suited for 30 year-olds rather than kiddies. Not only the names, but the flavours themselves go by unexpected combinations, such as today's recommendation (ignore the name I've given it, I am still a kiddie) : pomelo & banana.

Here comes the funniest part of the (still) introduction, according to me. How in God's name did I get to prepare this? Home alone, hyper music, bad food, worse weather (Mary Fucking Poppins, ...Bucharest?), generous amount of pomelo. Quick question: Didn't you ever find yourself singing about stuff you were doing out of boredom while being home alone? Quick answer: hell yeah? Well, I sometimes do, but.. I come from a strange family. The deal is, I was about to crack open my size decency-challenged grapefruit when lyrics of songs were connecting in my head. And I listened. What seemed to be Ameno! turned into Pomelo! ..aand that's how this whole religious song translated into names of fruit and nuts.



Pomelo! Visine dulci si amare, Pomelo! Alune! Alune! POMELO! Cirese si.. Pomelo! A rhyming english alternative would perhaps be.. Pomelo! Fresh berries and summer grape seeds, Pomelo! Muesli grains! Muesli grains! POMELO! Honeycomb and.. Pomelo! (Translation not respected.)


You may be wondering why I'm going for ice-cream this time of year. I thought it was outrageous too, but you know what? Those crazy americans know what they're on to when they treat a sore throat with ice-cream. Forget about drinking hot teas and agglutinating tons of lemon slices! Munching on some good quality ice-cream is sure to soothe your pain (and yes, I've tried that a while ago, works like a charm).

One of the difficulties I've encountered while procuring ingredients was obtaining pomelo juice. Especially since I had already peeled it. Save yourself an afternoon and juice it halved, like you would a regular orange. Cause I'm warning you.. pomelo cells are indestructible. Except by human teeth of course. You could juice it with your teeth, but make sure your guests don't know about that. Actually.. scratch that list thing. Emphasize on it. More for you. (I beseech my imaginary readers to pick up that faint pinch of sarcasm. Ooh this is change our mind day (is it not?), so forget I ever mentioned sarcasm on this serious matter. Should create one hell of a comical situation.) To be continued..

For the long awaited Pomelo! Sorbet,

You will need:

1 cup pomelo juice
1/3 cup orange juice
2 perfectly ripened bananas (not the over ripened kind that you use for cakes, but the kind that is uber appealing to the human tooth)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Since this has not sprung from cookie realm, you are absolved from preheating the oven this time. Just make sure your freezer is plugged. Use your food processor or hand mixer to mash up the bananas nicely, incorporating the orange juice. Add the sugar in increments and pour in a bowl. Switch to using a spoon or a spatula and blend in the water and pomelo juice. Continuation of the pomelo tale from the first half of this entry: I could only manage to squeeze out about 1/2 cup of pure pomelo juice(why does this recipe only ask for ingredients that are just right to eat?), so I made up to 1 cup with fresh pieces of fruit, and smoothed it out with my mixer. Now, it is high time you knew my most cherished secret.. (spring roll, er, drum roll please): If it tastes gud even before it's done, you know you've bonded with your dish and turned it into a masterpiece. It was that moment when I licked the spoon today that I said to myself.. this was meant to be.

Cheerio,
Andi

P.S.: I dare you to sing the Pomelo! song when you're tipsy.

P.P.S.: Notice how the the "imagine this paragraph is invisible" tags appear although they stand inside angle quotes? I laugh in the face of HTML!


Monday, 22 February 2010

An Apple Crumble a Day..

I've got no time to become all apologetic about not posting for such a long while. Instead, I prefer cutting straight to the point and letting you know a little bit about what determined me to share this overly simple recipe with you. I have something to confess, though. It is the first time I've tried it, although drooling over pictures of such desserts for months. I've been a fool to ignore it all this time. I have always loved baked apples, but could never get along with pie crusts (or tart ones for that matter) as they fail to complement the luscious texture of the cooked fruit. This is where the "crumble" part of the dessert comes in to save the day. Don't think about it as pieces of crust, this bare thought will transform the dish into baby food whilst giving it a left-over feeling. Its composition brings forth the magic: the fine mélange of oats, nuts and sugar creates the perfect crispy texture to go with your notorious baked apples.

Although my hailing of the dish makes is sound as a revolutionary, miracle food, it is no wonder that it is in fact a life-old dessert many of you have already experienced. All I'm trying to do here is set an example to all of you who find yourselves "endowed" with apples you find no use but to dispose of.

Quick story to add as a back-up argument in case you're not yet convinced to try out my latest dessert recommendation: I decided to take the long road home today. It was slightly warmer and sunnier than any of the past 100 days or so, and even though this has been the most beautiful winter Bucharest has seen in years (notice how there's no global warming here?), I am pretty sure I speak in everyone's name when I say I am thrilled spring is starting to drop hints. Looking out the bus window I could see merchants installing their carts to sell wittul jewelry adorned with red and white thread. Martisorul is perhaps the only Romanian tradition I don't completely despise. And it couldn't have picked a better date. It was this exact feeling that I experienced while tasting my brit recipe. All in all, it will brighten up your day. So if you ever need some cheering up, this is the thing to try. I know I'm taking some to school tomorrow to surprise a friend or two. Comfort fud always helps.

The amount of apple crumble you make is entirely up to you, so feel free to make changes, recipes in general are only guidelines anyway. I had two apples left so if you want to stick to my proportions, then..

You will need:

2 apples
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats (I kinda just.. sorted a muesli pack through :"> )
a dash of salt
cinnamon to taste

Almost all dessert recipes start the same. Preheating the oven is.. somewhat essential in baking. After you're done, take out the following necessary utensils and recipients: two medium bowls, a baking pan/individual ramekins (makes about 3-4 I reckon), a knife, and a spoon. Core and cut the apples into medium sized chunks (or whatever bite-size means to you) and mix them with the lemon juice and half of the sugar in one of the bowls. Now take your remaining bowl and pour in the oats, flour,butter, cinnamon, salt and the rest of the sugar. Give them a quick whip (you want it to look crumbly, not doughy, so don't try kneading it or anything) and you're ready to assemble everything. Transfer the apples into the baking pan, or divide equally among the ramekins, and top with the oats mix. It might sound surprising, but you don't need to flour the pan. Simply follow the steps as instructed, place in the preheated oven and keep a watchful eye over the goods. The amount if time it needs to bake is mainly dictated by both the quantity and chunkiness of the apples, so there is no exact time for taking it out. But, for further reference, I baked mine for about half an hour.

As an extra tip, feel free to add all sorts of nuts, such as walnuts or ground hazelnuts. I even paired apples with almonds once, and although they lost a bit of their crispness, the flavours were a match made in heaven.


Cheerio,
Andi

P.S.: Yes, I really, really like taking macro pics. XD

P.P.S.: My friend Dede asked me to provide the cake for her birthday this year. I am really grateful she trusts my (mad) skills! hehe




Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Le Far Breton (aka PUDDIIING!)

The story of this cake begins like this: my grandmother is paying us an indefinite visit *waving flags*, and she eats whatever elderly people eat (not very appealing stuff), therefore asked my mom to prepare her favourite dish: rice and prunes! Err.. come again? I assure you, the name alone isn't the (only) distasteful part. I immediately sprung into action, in a desperate attempt to free the innocent prunes from such a weary fate. In any event.. I only managed to get a hold of half the dried fruit (no worries though, I even ended up with leftovers, which I will turn into (part of my) breakfast tomorrow by pouring some sweetened yogurt on top).
As for the rest of the pile, it made a much appreciated entrance as a guest star for my french cuisine inspired cake.

Unfortunately, this being only the beginning of my journey to becoming a better chef, I am by no means in possession of a renowned cookbook (except of course for the occasional recipes i whip up by sneak peeking into a friend's Jamie Oliver collection (she just needs to get a hold of Jamie and the Naked Pikachu and she'll have them all..). As of this, I get most of my recipes off the interwebs. Sure, along the way I have encountered innumerable fail-proof, amazing recipes. However, this isn't the most reliable source for cooking inspiration. This occurrence is slowly turning into a fact, as proof for it is precisely what happened today: looking for a decent far breton recipe, i could not find two alike. I finally decided upon one (but I will not give out the source as it is sure to confuse my imaginary readers - I'll promote you to "imaginary friends" soon, no worries) which, although seemed a bit strange, had a very interesting introduction on Brittany. I tend to fall for stories. As prior mentioned, the process was.. odd to say the least, as one was supposed to mix the flour with eggs sugar and what not, leaving milk last. I could hardly even stir it, so i had to go for adding the milk before other dry ingredients. Regardless, it turned out great. Aye this intro is already a tad bit too long and i don't want to be a bore so brace yourselves cause here comes the pudding avalanche: (kinda looks like one, doesn't it?)


You will need:

1 3/4 cups flour (+ some extra for flouring the pan)
4 eggs (no need to separate them)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups milk
300 g prunes
a little butter for.. buttering the pan

Go for a medium-sized bowl and sift your flour into it. Just like for the bread recipe, make a tiny well in the centre and add the eggs (I added them two by two). When you feel it's getting too tiring to continue stirring or cannot incorporate any more of the flour, start pouring in the milk, little by little, whisking vigorously. You can now proceed to adding your vanilla extract and sugar, and I recommend using a hand mixer to perform this task to make sure your incorporate the sugar properly. It will look extremely liquid, and this startled me at first. Upon further pondering, I figured this is pretty much the right consistency for a pudding before baking. During my research for the perfect far breton recipe, I encountered several ones which insisted on leaving the batter "rest" for half an hour before baking it. I was unsure of this, it reminded me too much of making crepes, so I feared ending up with a giant prune pancake. Not even the fluffy type, but the taco type. So should i have allowed it to rest or not? This dilemma solved itself. The recipe asked for juicy, seedless prunes. I had the rly rly seedy.. dessicated type. It took approximately half an hour to revive my dried plums, as I had to blanch them several times and take care of the kernels. When I was finally done, I buttered and floured a round pan, appropriate in size, and poured in the batter. It had magically thickened, giving so much more support to my fruit, as they have not sinked to the bottom of my pan. All you have to do is place your prunes in the desired places, one by one, giving the cake a marbled looking top.
Place your concoction in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until it turns golden blown and sets completely (by checking periodically, you will notice the wobbly mid-section. This is a sign it needs to stay in for 10 more minutes or so). When done, don't immediately take it out of the oven. Let it rest for a few more minutes, otherwise the sudden temperature change will rend it uberdeflated.

Extra pics: one serving and a chomp.



I have to say.. it looks pretty authentic. Not sure about the taste as I've never had this type of cake before (but tastes gud!). I know this is an auto-appreciation, but for a first timer things went swimmingly. The last time I received this one word compliment was when I baked a cottage pudding and served some to my former foreign English teacher. It so happens that his mother made that cake for his birthday every year. In other words, I aced it. Can't beat that.

Cheerio,
Andi

P.S.: Cottage pudding recipe coming soon. So is the caramel cake and other promised ones.



Saturday, 23 January 2010

Best Olive Bread in Town

I've been trying to create a connection between successive posts just in case potential readers plan on having a food theme party or what not. No, actually, just kidding.. the reason why I'm engaging in this is mainly because I know..from the bottom of my heart that there's someone out there who wants to make things from scratch. (aand it really comes in handy for figuring out recipe order..nhe). So just in case you want to be responsible for having provided all the ingredients necessary for the previous recipe, i suggest you go tomato picking and starting up the oven to make some bread! (I am serious about this last one. Related, planting some herbs like rosemary or basil in tiny pots and growing them in the kitchen is both a cute and practical idea.)

This particular bread recipe works well on its own too. I have the tendency to pig out half a bread loaf even before it touches the ground after I take it out of the oven. Yes, it's that gud. My not-so-very-fond-of-me-grandma even dared affirm that I am eligible for marriage after having a bite of this now famous bread. (word)

You know how people freak out and never make bread at home? And when they taste your home-made bread they go "you have one of those..bread-making machines, don't you?". Um, no.. I like getting dirrrty :D (you know...flour all over). Either way, bring out the sexy in your housewife persona and wear an apron. If the "baking process" occurs mid-summer, feel free to wear only that. The point is.. making bread isn't difficult at all, it's but a relaxing pastime. One way looking at it is comparing it to writing your personal statement (sorry for bringing it up again).. time consuming. But, in the end, we just have to admit it was time spent constructively, aka for the future, delishusness and our tummies' well-being. Here comes the hailed recipe, preceded by yet anudder fascinating piece of advice: arm yourself with patience.. and olives.

You will need:

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast (I used the fresh type)
2 teaspoons caster sugar
3 spoons olive oil (+ some extra for coating pans and such)
3 cups flour (+ some extra for flowering your work surface)
2 teaspoons kosher (Bailey had an engine..) salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
handful of olives

Preferably, start by heating up your.. kitchen. Remember how you woke up on Christmas Eve only to find your mother/grandma walking about, using everything from the then empty pantry? Most certainly, this fuss was created for the sake of the oh-so-festive pound cake. This is pretty much what to expect when starting up the bread-making. Not only you'll end up with something to eat, but also with a cute and cuddly kitchen. This image was all I had in mind this morning while making my way home through the blizzard. The first thing I told my mom was to get out of the kitchen as I was determined to have some foccacia for supper.

After everything is nice and cosy, grab a small bowl and a wooden spoon. Break the yeast into pieces, add the sugar, and start mixing until it turns liquid. Add your three tablespoons of olive oil and incorporate everything thoroughly. Pour in the water, give it a whirl or two and set the mixture aside in a warm spot for about five minutes. This is just a guideline, as you have to wait until the composition becomes frothy and bubbly. As I've heard, this is quite an unusual way to prepare the yeast, but as far as I'm concerned I'm not going to change anything as long as the outcome totally owns other bread recipes.

Carrying on, get hold of a medium (maybe even largeish) bowl. Sift your flour in this container and add half of the salt. Make some sort of a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. You'll want to start mixing with a wooden spoon, but once you feel it's getting harder to stir, it's time to roll up your sleeves and take business into your own hands. Flour your work space (eg. kitchen table or counter), and start kneading the dough on the prepared surface. Do so for about ten minutes, continuing to add small amounts of flour if the mixture is still sticky. When kneading, be firm, but don't squeeze the mixture. The correct way of doing this is by lifting sides of the dough with your fingers and pressing them to the centre with the back of your wrist. Use your left hand to help shape the dough into a ball. Coat a bowl with oil and place your resulted ball in. Cover with a cloth and store in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. After the 45 minutes have elapsed, preheat your oven (if you haven't done so yet). Knead the dough for two more minutes on the freshly floured surface, and don't worry, this wont harm the puffiness of your bread.. especially since you have to let it prove for 20 more minutes, this time after placing it in the baking pan you'll prepare for it by brushing it with olive oil. So cover it up and let it sit in the same warm spot. The 20 minutes having passed, press dimples into your bread, brush it with a little olive oil, season with a little bit of salt and oregano and press in the olives. You can have them whole or sliced, just make sure you've taken out all the seeds. If you also want to have olives inside your bread, follow this next step before placing the dough in the oiled baking pan: roll it out like a pizza dough, sprinkle on the olives and roll it back, like you would a pergament. After having all this done, place the pan on the middle rack of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden-brown.















As you may have noticed, i do not specify gas marks or the temperature needed for baking "the goods". That's because my oven is part of this rly rly old stove that keeps putting itself off when I least expect it. So.. tiny inconvenient there. But if my ancient oven can do it, your kickass one should be able to pull this recipe off too. Now get back and munch on your olive bread, either simple, turned into a feta sammich or bruschetti. :)



Cheerio,
Andi

P.S.: This amount of batter only makes for one loaf but but.. i doubled the composition for my famished family. Sorry if the pics befuddled anybody.

P.P.S.: Free samples Monday at school for the nonbelievers!