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Archive for the ‘Breads and Doughs’ Category

Last weekend I had some friends over for brunch. I picked some goodies out of the garden and brunch began to unfold.

I had been craving this carrot salad so I made some using the parsley. I sliced the radish and tossed it with some english cucumber and salt for another fresh treat, perhaps now is a good time to mention that I love salads. We also made some gently scrambled eggs with garden leeks, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. I tossed a sprig of thyme and rosemary in with the leeks to give some aroma and extra flavor.

K and A brought over some delicious Humboldt Fog goat cheese, a perfect accompaniment to the Whole Emmer (Wheat) Sourdough I had made the day before.

For dessert we had fresh fruit and some of the Sachertorte I made in class last week (I have moved on from the bread portion of baking school to pastry.)

Between the brunch and the lovely sunny weather, we had a perfect picnic.

After lunch, we retired to the lawn with several baking books and enjoyed the sunshine.

(photo credit: Angel Trumpet Tree)

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We recently had another great cooking class at the store. Our friend and great teacher, Steve Boss taught us how to make pizza dough and pizza sauce as well as tricks for getting the best results. We also played around with lots of different topping ideas.

Steve spreads his “little bit longer sauce” over a partially baked crust…

Steve squeezing roasted garlic on a pizza crust…

Here is a pizza margherita (minus the fresh basil) hot out of the oven! The crust was nice and crispy, slightly charred underneath.

Boss Style Pizza:

makes 6, 10″ crusts

1 c. semolina flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. farro flour

1/2 packet of yeast (3.5 grams)

a big pinch of salt

1 1/2 c. warm water, between 120-130*F

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the water and using your hands or a polish dough whisk mix the dough until it gathers into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 7-10 minutes.

Lightly oil a clean mixing bowl and place the ball of dough in it. Cover with a cloth at let it rise in a warm location for 1-2 hours.

When Steve is making pizza for a large group, he likes to pre bake the crusts. This is how he does it…

Divide the dough into six pieces and roll out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Bake in a 450*F oven for 1-2 minutes, until the dough begins to rise. Let cool. If you are going to be using them the same day, set them aside in a stack leaving the parchement between each crust. If you aren’t going to use them the same day, wrap them really well so they are airtight, they can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a few weeks.

Quick Sauce:

Lightly pulse a 28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes. Add a little salt and a little sugar (if necessary.)

A Little Bit Longer Sauce:

Prepare the “Quick Sacue” and add:

1 Tbsp. salt packed capers, rinsed

dried oregano

dried thyme

fresh pepper

1/4 c. grated parmesan

4 cloves roasted garlic

Simmer on low for about an hour.

To assemble the pizza:

Place a pre-baked crust on a pizza peel and rub a touch of olive oil on it, spread a thin layer of sauce on it, add topping of choice and cheese. Bake on a pre-heated pizza stone in an oven set as high as it can go. As every oven is different, I would recommend checking it after 5 minutes. Check the bottom of the crust to make sure it has some nice dark spots. Remove with pizza peel. Slice and serve.

Topping ideas:

-fresh arugula (after baking)

-capers and olives

-roasted garlic and rosemary

-feta, olives, and artichoke hearts

-roasted red peppers

-fresh basil (after baking)

- just tomato sauce (pizza marinara)

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This morning, while taking a walk, I stumbled upon a morel–the first of the season. I plucked it from the side of the trail and took it home. It was pretty small, about 2 inches high but since it was an early one, it doesn’t matter since I know there are more to come.  I sliced it in half and fried it in a little butter and ate it with hot toast (my sister made me a bunch of bread this weekend) and some black pepper.

Such a perfect snack for this cold and hazy afternoon.

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Last week we had a Tunisian cooking class at my mom’s store. My good friends Sarah and Katie taught the class. Sarah has been doing a lot of research on Tunisian food, and to my delight a lot of practice too! We made several different dishes: lablabi, mlauoi, m’hamsa salad, torchi, carrot feta salad, and gateau a l’orange.

Lablabi is a Tunisian chickpea stew, it is the one food that is consistently available on the streets of Tunisia both night and day. The lablabi stands don’t have any signage, but rather, they have tall stacks of bowls made specifically for eating lablabi in. So that the chickpeas get very sweet and tender, the stall-keepers start cooking them in the wee hours of the morning and keep them on the flame all day long. We weren’t quite as diligent on this step, but we started cooking the chickpeas first thing in the morning (at about 8am instead of 3am.)

There are a few musts for preparing lablabi, it must be served with bread, toasted cumin, harissa and a drizzle of olive oil. Beyond that, you are free to add whatever condiments you like. Sarah recommends adding capers, preserved lemon and brine, and sun-dried tomatoes.

First in the bowl is the bread (ripped into pieces) then a scoop of chickpeas with plenty of broth, (making sure to have enough broth after the bread has soaked some up) followed by the condiments.

After you have added everything be sure to mix it up very well so you get all the flavors in each bite!

The next thing we learned how to make was mlaoui, a traditional semolina flatbread. These breads are very simple to make, you mix together semolina flour and a little all-purpose flour, some salt and olive oil. Then add enough water so that the dough ends up looking something like this.

You will need a lot of water! Semolina soaks up a lot more than you would think. After achieving the right consistency, it needs to rest for at least 20 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it, sprinkling a little bit of water as you go. The dough should be soft and malleable. Divide it into 4 pieces and let it rest a bit longer.

Then you spread the dough out in a large somewhat translucent rectangle and rub it with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of semolina and fold it in on itself like a letter going into an envelope.

Press the dough out again and roll it up. (If you want to make little breads, you can slice the roll into pieces.)

Press the roll (on end) into a thin circle and place it on a hot griddle. Cook it until the bread is lightly golden and flip. Flip it once more and hope it puffs up!

During the initial rest period, we prepared several salads (all of which pair very well with the mlaoui!)

This next dish is something I make at home quite often, it is a m’hamsa (couscous) salad. We sautéed some summer squash, sweet and hot peppers in olive oil. Towards the end of cooking, we tossed in some already cooked beans, and caraway seeds. When the m’hamsa was ready, we added the veggies to it and finished it with a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped mint, and parsley.

Torchi is a quick pickle. You can use just about any vegetable that is in season,(some common ones are radishes, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and fennel.)  We used red cabbage, the color was stunning! To make torchi, you chop fresh vegetables and dress them with some toasted and lightly ground coriander, salt, champagne vinegar, and of course, a bit of harissa. You can eat it right a way or you can let it sit over night in the fridge.

I have always loved carrot salad and this Carrot and Feta salad is no exception! I mean how can you go wrong with carrots, harissa, feta, raisins, a sprinkling of mint and parsley,  and a squeeze of lemon? Let me answer that for you, you can’t!

For dessert we made Gateau a l’Orange (an Orange cake made with olive oil!) It involves using the entire orange, minus the seeds. After removing the seeds, you put the oranges in a food processor and grind them to a pulp. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar, add the flour baking powder and olive oil. Mix. Add the orange pulp and mix again. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and bake.

We also made a rose geranium syrup to brush on to the cake while it was cooling.

To finish off the meal we had some mint tea, traditionally served with toasted pine nuts.

Note: For a complete version of the recipes click here.

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