Tag Archives: Bread

Honey and oil bread

Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.
~ John Lennon

Loaf by loaf, life’s riddles are slowly unravelled…

    Ingredients:
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp salt
    1 tbsp honey
    ¾ cups warm water
    1.5 tbsp yeast
    4 tbsp rice bran oil (the original recipe calls for olive oil)
    extra flour for kneading
    extra oil to brush bowl and bread
    Method:
    In a small bowl combine honey, water, and yeast, stir to combine a bit. Put aside to proof yeast for about 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam. In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt. Once the yeast has foamed you can proceed to step 2.
    Make a well in the center of flour bowl. Pour the olive oil, then the water-yeast mixture into the center of flour bowl. Using a wooden spoon stir until a wet dough forms, then switch to your hands for kneading. Depending on how wet the dough is, and the humidity in your kitchen, you will need to add a little bit of flour at a time to form an elastic dough that does not stick to your hands. Continue kneading until a smooth dough is formed, about 10 minutes.
    Remove the dough and set aside, brush or rub a little bit of olive oil inside the bowl. Place the dough back into the bowl, brush with a little oil, cover and leave to rise in a warm place. Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
    Once doubled, preheat oven to 180°C. and prepare a baking sheet or bread mould. Remove the risen dough from the bowl, gently knead into desired shape or place inside bread mould.
    Leave to rise another 10 minutes. Place bread in center of oven and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing (we ate a few slices whilst they were very warm anyway).
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David Schofield at Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market

“As with all good spinach, it’s still got dirt on it”
~ David Schofield

[How time flies! I penned this post a whole MONTH ago. Anyway, better late than never, right?]

You get people who cook, people who teach others how to cook, and people who are champions of food. David Schofield is all three.

For some, David needs no introduction, having won several awards including NZ Culinary Fare’s New Zealand Chef of the Year 2011. I had not previously heard of David – but following Sunday’s demonstration, will be keen to read/see more of him again.

On Sunday [23 Oct], I yanked myself out of bed a little later than I meant to, arriving at the bustling Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market just minutes before David’s demo was due to begin. When I got there and saw all the great looking stalls, I immediately regretted my laziness, for there was now no time to shop before the demo…

Out in the courtyard, grey clouds gathered and a few tears spilled from the sky, but a small crowd appeared nonetheless. A kind lady wiped the chairs with a tea towel and we all sat down in front of David’s stand/kitchen/screen, eager to see what David would present.

In just two hours (with an intermission in between), David produced five dishes – with yummy samples for lucky us – and I don’t know about everyone else, but I came away with way more than just recipes and good food in my tummy – I also gained tips, knowledge and laughter.

I think the skies liked David’s demo too. It held in the rain. :-)

First dish on the tasty menu: cheese dreams (see above). The name itself was enough to make me swoon; but add in Over the Moon cheese curd, some quality bread, free range NZ bacon and a nicely poached egg – and there you have it; a breakfast to keep you dreaming happily all day. David also got Roland from Over the Moon to chat briefly about their cheese and share ideas on what to do with the cheese curd (pair it with salmon, spinach, roasted veges – mmm!)

Dish #2 involved ginger syrup, honey, some luscious wet and natural jam, strawberries… a sweet dance on the tongue and very pretty to look at.

Next, David whipped up what he calls “a play on French Toast”. He blithely cooked while telling us the truth about bright orange salmon (source of colour: carrot pellets). A not-so-pretty tale behind a lovely colour; a good lesson in deciphering “real and fresh” from “lies consumers believe”, I think! David’s emphasis on fresh and local food came through from start to finish of his demo by way of little facts like the colour we may expect fresh salmon to be – salmon feeding on kura may be reddish in colour, while salmon feeding on seaweed may tend towards white tones, etc.

He reminded us that when we reject fresh and local produce in favour of perfectly shaped, unblemished, brightly coloured produce, growers have little choice but to (1) import from overseas, (2) discard perfectly good produce that doesn’t meet these “ideals”, (3) add additives/modify our vegetables to meet our demands. Sure makes me think twice about how I pick my veges!

He also mentioned another point which I like very much: “Every time you buy an NZ product, it tastes just as good as its overseas equivalent, and it keeps someone here employed”.

The salmon “French Toast” (see above), complete with a lovely tomato paste, was put in the oven just long enough to warm (but not cook) the salmon… it emerged beautifully flavoured, and David paired it with a fennel and mesclun salad. I’m pretty sure this dish could steal a smile from the grumpiest human you know.

During the intermission, I hastened in to look at the stalls… and my eye fell on some Good Things indeed (green apple olive oil, creamy cheese, spicy and sweet ginger syrup – just to name a few!)

When we reconvened, David showed us two lavish and simple (the combination sounds contradictory, but it’s true!) dishes: oyster and spinach with lemon pappardelle, and fresh flounder with broad beans and fresh greens. I didn’t get to try the flounder, but the oyster pasta was precious to sample – just imagine soft, quivering, oyster mingled with gently wilted spinach and fresh, generous wide pappardelle ribbons… it was honest, calming and delicious.

It was a pleasure to watch David cook, and inhale the good smells. Vanilla-toned pappardelle bearing the hallmark of freshness: uneven edges. Broad beans tinkering from David’s fingers into a bowl. The warming, nutty aroma of beurre noisette. The sound of fish sizzling in the skillet. So much colour and freshness.

David’s demo was a display of abundance, a reflection of the truth David mentioned at one point: we live in a country where you can visit your Neighbour with the Lemon Trees or go out with a line and catch an honest-to-goodness fish (so why don’t we realise how lucky we are more often?).

Along with the laughs (on David’s generous “pinches” of salt and “pats” of butter, etc), we also gleaned a gallon of great kitchen/food tips from David. I’ll share a few here:

  • On de-veining spinach: fold the spinach leaf like you’d fold a heart (vertically), then gently tear away the stalk.
  • On shucking oysters: grip the oyster with a dish towel, and hold a shucking knife in your other hand. Run the knife along the opening, and pry the shell apart. Open the oyster over a bowl so you don’t lose the juices. (Use the juices in the dish too).
  • On fresh vegetables: better with dirt and insects than bleach (another “lie consumers believe” = clean, sparkling leaves with a sanitised smell are fresh and good… not true).
  • On pepper: it is not a season, but a spice – it alters flavour.
  • On fish fins: snip off with scissors prior to cooking, as they burn quickly in the pan.
  • On removing fish skin: make a cut under the fish skin, dab on some salt to give some grip, then use your thumb and pull the fish skin off.

Here is a picture of David showing us how to take the bone off… admittedly I didn’t see how he did it: one blink, one lift and the bone was out!

David was as generous with food samples as he was with taking questions, and people gathered to ask more questions at the end:

I regrettably had to dash off while David was still taking questions. Late in the afternoon, I came home to my market/NZ produce-lunch – not quite David’s fare (yet), but delicious in my hungriness nevertheless: fresh sourdough topped with Over the Moon black truffle brie (triple cream brie with truffle in the middle… it is every bit as good as it sounds), J. Friend and Co Northern Rata honey (sweet, gently earthy and delicate), and a spicy hot toddy made with Hakanoa Ginger Syrup (the BEST). I look forward to cooking a few things based on David’s recipes soon!

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

Basil bread

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.
~ Robert Browning

When you go home on sick leave, everyone always drowns your ears in an ocean chorus of “go home and lie down! Feel better soon!”… but there are certain kinds of Sick that do not get cured by you lying down for hours. I mean the sort of Sick where panadol and manuka honey do zilch and leave you feeling like a burdened donkey (not well enough to concentrate and do a good job at work, but not sick enough to die yet, either).

I had a good rest at home, chatted on the phone with a friend in Wellington, cooked and ate my breakfast at 4pm:

– Chicken + mustard + garlic + lemon + basil

– Silverbeet + red pepper + oyster mushrooms + muscovado + salt + a pat of butter + sundried tomatoes + anchovy (yes, I had a “creative moment” and just went nuts).

It was a random meal, but I felt better after that.

Then, just ‘cos I could, I decided to try making some basil bread. The scent of basil certainly did my sore head a lot of good.

Sometimes I think that scaling flour mountains helps me think of ways to move the mountains in my own life. I know that sounds ridiculous, but… well, I do it. :-)

The yeast drove me nuts! Four failed attempts later (at making it activate), I got it to foam/bubble at least a little and I think I now have a better idea of what “lukewarm” water should feel like.

If you try making this bread (I adapted this recipe), you may want to use a bowl or make sure you have a very wide bench. The centre of the well has a tendency to gush.

Keep going with those sticky fingers and you’ll get some good-looking, good-smelling dough flecked with green.

It takes some waiting around.. but not too long. Just keep reading and singing while the dough plays its rising game.

I’ve only baked bread a few times in my life, and each time I enjoy it immensely even when parts of the process (read: fussy yeast, flour-showered pants, etc) drive me a little batty.

It fills the house with good smells…

Crusty, soft, warm…

I’m not sure if this violates any informal code of conduct re eating bread, but I really enjoyed having salt and butter and a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar on this bread. I ate a warm roll as the sun gave my window a goodbye hug.

Royal food for lazy folk #2

Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality.
~ Clifton Fadiman

It resembled a generous slice of magic swirling dessert set to gather smiles from the Tooth Fairy…

It brought to mind a curious word I seldom think about…

It was better than dessert and the consideration of calories…

It was a jolly good Sunday lunch.

What you do – you slice some of your favourite bread (I used sourdough), lay it flat and add the layers:

    cheese*
    +
    honey**

…and if you are lucky like me and have a beautiful friend who makes you fig and walnut salami, you can add a little of that on too.

Sweet like a cherry on a cupcake.

* This triple brie with black truffle sandwiched in the middle is made by Over the Moon Dairy Company and is as amazing as it sounds :-) I picked up my wedge from a nice gentleman Roland at Grey Lynn Farmers’ Market on Sunday.

** I received a goodie bag on Sunday which included this jar of Northern Rata honey from J. Friend and Co… I very much enjoyed its delicate/earthy flavour and elegant texture, and look forward to experimenting more with it!

Pain d’epices au chocolat

Words are the voice of the heart.
~ Confucius

I am now reading my 8th book since September. It amazes me, the world of books. You think you know how to speak and write reasonably well, and then you chance upon all these books that use the same words and punctuation marks as you know… and yet… paint a picture you never could have created, show a world entirely foreign to your own, hint at possibilities you never would have considered.

Lately, I’ve been reading poetry and prose that have left me gobsmacked, retreating rapidly along a sentence and reading it again. Or laughing at jokes which have somehow spanned four chapters, building on and rolling off each other, funny as hell!

I guess I’ve answered my own question as to why, in a world already swarming with books, there remain books to be written (so many worlds to discover, minds to read). Everyone who wants to write a book should probably write one.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading a marvellous book that’s had me giggling on the bus and smiling inside my stomach – David Lebovitz’s “The Sweet Life in Paris”. I can’t hope to write a decent review about it, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be rushing to your kitchen midway (perhaps multiple times, as I have)… and if you live in New Zealand, you’ll be pretty grateful for our more generous kitchen areas too. I think you’ll be struggling not to fall into an entirely different world while reading it, looking up in time to feel amazed that you are not in fact right next to David, drinking amazing hot chocolate or struggling to set up a bank account in France. David also has a fantastic website, which I have mentioned before in previous posts.

So, in short: read the book! Visit the website!

Two days ago, I decided to make pain d’epices au chocolat – chocolate spice bread – from his book (page 119). I did use a mixture of muscovado sugar and caster sugar, as well as substitute the anise seeds with unsifted chinese five spice powder, using what I had on hand. I can still label it as neither cake nor bread, but in this instance, it doesn’t matter – all you need to do is (1) cut it into wedges and share it with your friends, and (2) cut yourself a neat slice, open your mouth and eat! Sweet and dense, the chocolatey taste and soft texture of this is all-encompassing; the proportion of spices is just right to give it a warming twist – like a firm whisper, if I may put it that way.

(It is also very fun and simple to make – what a bonus!)

Oh, and this picture? I was proud of how pretty my sink looked then – what do you think? Heheh!

Dancing Babka

Dance is a song of the body. Either of joy or pain.
~ Martha Graham

The word ‘yeast’ is still a mental hurdle for me. Something about it sounds complicated, out of my depth, like it’s something for professionals (not me, anyway). My one direct encounter with it came earlier this year when I made some pitta bread at home for a flat dinner. I remember marvelling at it then; but subsequently, the old apprehension came back each time I glimpsed it in a recipe.

I’ve been reading a very inspirational book over the last few nights though, and somehow – I think that led to me walking out of New World with a bottle of active dry yeast last night.

I woke up early this morning, and decided to kick off my day off work with some babka baking from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#57 Bobba’s Babka – Page 246

I was apprehensive about the yeast. I mixed it with the oil and tepid milk and for two long minutes, nothing seemed to ‘activate’… and then, suddenly, it looked like something bad out of my old biology textbook? Alive, gurgling like a deep sea monster, ugh! – it was at once fascinating and very unappetizing…

I waited some more before I poured it doubtfully into the flour mixture, and then it looked like a mini volcanic snowstorm.

Actual bread making. I fell into a sort of happy/painful trance kneading the dough. It was reassuring, of course, to knead like mad while reading “the dough should be thick and a little difficult to mix, even with the mixer”. (although even if I had a mixer, I doubt I would use it in my first few instances of making bread – how else to get in touch with your food, to know it, touch it, sense it – own it??)…

When I added the egg and worked the sticky dough, it squelched like a pair of rain-drenched shoes the whole way and I really thought I would never get to the next stage, which was “so that it is still very sticky but not actually sticking to your hands.”

As it is, I got there, and as my fingers repelled the sticky, springy dough, I exclaimed and promptly forgot about my aching wrists. Wow! If Tessa Kiros had been here in person I would have knocked her over with a huge embrace. :-O As it is, she was spared on this occasion :-)

After 1.5 hours of being placed by the heatpump, it had enlarged to a giant puffy dough:

Muscovado sugar. Deep and luxurious, I measured it out carefully, trying not to spill any. Then I leaned over the cup and gazed at the rich colour, inhaled the delicious flavour… mmmm.

Even better smelling with the addition of cinnamon…

Butter on the other hand, I was much more lavish with today – I didn’t measured this, just dug my knife into the box and took out a random soft pile of it.

I rolled out the bread into two (near) rectangles, and spread the butter and muscovado on to them.

Finally, it was time to plait the bread.

The whole process of baking this was really… seductive. I’m not sure how else I could possibly describe it. My hands were gooey, and bread dough is hardly a sunset, a silk dress, or whatever your normal icons of romance might be – but the emerging flavours and feel of the process pretty much had me walking on air.

So much so that after I brushed egg yolk and milk on the babka and shoved the tray into the oven, I put on some music and danced on my toes. THE AIR SMELLED WONDERFUL.

Babka, done – I gave more than half of it away to a gleeful Malinda and retained the rest of it for my poor flatmates. :-)

PS. Haidee and I were at one of my favourite cafes today – and out popped a mouse! While I was a little concerned about the presence of a mouse in an eating place, I was temporarily distracted by this amusing thing: saying “oh! mouse!” and watching the women around me gasp, kind of shriek and scramble to get up and run. I mean, it’s just a mouse……?

Cypriot Flat Dinner

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.
~ Julia Child

This evening saw the making of 2 Cypriot recipes from “Falling Cloudberries”:
#15 Pitta Bread – Page 183
#16 Sheftalia (Mince Meat Parcels) – Page 179

served with tomatoes, lemon wedges, tzatziki, and tomato-sauce-for-Jono.

Pretty tired right now, so I do not have much to write – but I saw and worked with yeast for the first time ever today in making the pitta bread, and it was fun. The feel of warm foamy yeast and flour running over my fingers was simply amazing. I think I understand why, in this day and age of relatively affordable commercial bread, some people never give up baking their own.

The beginnings of pitta bread dough

Pitta bread dough! All cute and puffy.

Watermelon juice (Matt made this)

Dinner is served – and, big yay for John, Jono & Matt who make dinner more fun.