Wednesday, 4 November 2020

FROM STALE BREAD TO DELICIOUS CROUTONS!



These croutons may be the reason to give up candy!!! 



Here's the ultimate way to use up one's leftover bread or rolls. Ciabatta bread will do very nicely as will French bread. How about a combination of the two? Go ahead and make these croutons well ahead of time. They freeze beautifully and will be ready to be used as a topping for that favourite salad or soup!  

The croutons are very easy to make, and what's more, this is a recipe without a recipe! Use the amounts you want; let your inner chef take charge!



METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Cut a loaf of bread into cubes of an appropriate size and place them into a large bowl. If you prefer to have rustic bread cubes, don't use a knife. Instead, use your hands to tear the bread into nice pieces. Either way will work, but make sure that whether torn or cut up, all the pieces are of similar size so that they cook evenly. 
  • Drizzle the bread cubes with olive oil and melted butter. The combination of olive oil and butter is important because it gives an extra delicious taste to the croutons. However, you may omit the butter and just use olive oil. 
  • Sprinkle some garlic powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper and a touch of salt over the bread. Toss until all of the bread cubes are well coated with the ingredients. 
  • If you are an oregano fanatic, add some extra dried oregano to the Italian seasoning before tossing with the bread.
  • Do you have some shredded Pecorino Romano cheese? How about adding a touch of it to the mix? Not too much, though. Just enough so that it will be absorbed by the oil and butter. 
  • Do you have some roasted garlic or better yet some garlic confit in your refrigerator? If the answer is yes, use it. Forgo the garlic powder, mash some soft roasted garlic, mash it well, and mix it with the oil and butter. Drizzle over the bread. 
  • Spread the bread cubes onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure the bread cubes are in an even layer and not touching. If they are too close and overlapping, they won’t cook evenly and won’t crisp up.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until the croutons are golden brown. Check early to make sure you don’t burn them. The baking time will depend on how thick your bread pieces are and how your oven cooks. 


  • Remove those golden croutons from the oven and let them cool completely. Do fight the urge to snack on them! It can be a strong urge ... Why fight it? Because otherwise, there will not be enough croutons left for your salad or for your soup, that's why!
  • The croutons can be stored in an airtight container for a week or they can be frozen for about a month. 


Friday, 16 October 2020

WHOLE, CITUSY TROUT IN PARCELS

 I've made this recipe a few times, either with the fish arranged in a baking dish or sealed up in parchment and aluminium foil parcels. Both are good, but there is something about the parcels which better seals in the flavour and enhances the taste of the fish. If you make the recipe in a baking pan, add a little water or wine to the pan and cover the top while cooking. 





INGREDIENTS:


2 trout cleaned by the fishmonger.

 

2 potatoes

 

2 cubanelle peppers (Italian frying peppers)

 

1 orange

 

1lemon

 

1 lime

 

1 onion

 

About 4 tablespoons of olive oil plus more to use on the fish after cooking

 

1/2 teaspoon of mint

 

2 teaspoons of thyme leaves

 

1 clove of garlic, chopped well

 

2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

 

two sprigs of rosemary

 

a scant amount of salt

 


DIRECTIONS:


·        Wash the fish thoroughly and pat it dry with paper towels.

 

·        Prepare parchment paper and aluminium foil sections large enough to accommodate each fish. Preheat the oven to 200° C / 400° F. 

 

·        Slice the orange, lemon, lime, onion, cubanelles and potatoes into rondelles.

 

·        Season the potatoes and cubanelles with salt and pepper.

 

·        In a small bowl mix the oil, garlic, mint, thyme and black pepper.

 

·      Season the fish with the oil mixture, using it to cover both the cavities and the outside of the fish.  

 

·        Place the onion and citrus slices into the fish cavities.

 

·        Spread out both sections of the aluminium foil and top it with the two sections of parchment paper.

 

·        Divide the potatoes and peppers in half and place each half onto the centre of each parchment paper. Top with a sprig of rosemary.

 

·        Place each fish on top of the potatoes and peppers.

 

·        Make two well-sealed parcels by folding the parchment over the fish and then folding the aluminium paper over the parchment.

 

·        Bake in the oven at 200° C / 400° F for about 30 minutes. The fish is done when its flesh appears opaque.

 

·        You could allow the top of the fish to brown if you so wish. In that case, cook in opened parcels for a further five to ten minutes (or more), depending on the oven.

 

·        Remove the fish from the oven and place in a serving platter along with the potatoes and cubanelle peppers.

 

·        Drizzle the cooking juices and some olive oil the top. Keep warm and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Fudgy Brownies: The Katharine Hepburn Brownie Recipe




This is definitely a recipe for chocoholics. Notice the scant amount of flour as compared to the chocolate! The brownies are supposed to be gooey and fudgy! Whatever I’ve marked as optional is not included in Miss Katharine Hepburn’s recipe, but I have found that the extra ingredients add a whole new depth of flavour and temper the strong taste of chocolate. Either walnuts or pecans can be used here, but I prefer pecans (unless I am in the mood for walnuts). Cut these brownies into small pieces — about twenty pieces per recipe — and keep them in the refrigerator; they do taste better cold. They can be frozen, too!

Ingredients:


1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter (115 grams)
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
1 cup chopped or broken-up walnuts
1and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
 1/8 teaspoon of salt



Directions:


1.     Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit / 160 ° Celsius
2.     Must do: Line an 8x8-inch (20x20 cm) pan with parchment paper. The brownies will stick and will not be easily removed from the pan without the use of parchment paper. Lightly grease the top of the parchment and set the pan aside.
3.     Combine flour, nuts, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
4.     Bloom the cocoa: Melt the butter and cocoa in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Add the coffee and stir. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl and add sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until the sugar is dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and cinnamon.
5.     Add the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture. Mix until combined.
6.    Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, but do not over-bake; the brownies should be gooey and fudgy!!! Let cool, then remove from pan and cut into bars. Cut into small pieces because these are rich brownies. I usually get 16 to 20 pieces. Place the brownies in the refrigerator or freezer. They taste better cold.
7.     Sometimes I add the walnuts on top rather than mix them in the batter.



Sunday, 14 July 2019

Greek country-bread / Horiatiko Psomi


TO PREPARE THE YEAST:
2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar

In a medium-size bowl dissolve the yeast in the water. Add sugar and the flour and mix until no lumps are left. Let rise for about twenty minutes.

FLOUR(S):
8 cups bread flour 
or
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup semolina flour
5 cups bread flour 

If using more than one type of flour, sift them together so that they are well mixed.

LIQUID INGREDIENTS:

2 cups water at room temperature 
8 tablespoons olive oil 
tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt 

Plus:

Some extra flour as needed for the work surface 


Directions:

Add the water, oil, sugar, and salt to the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with the hook attachment and mix for about two minutes.

Add the reserved yeast mixture.
Mix on low speed for about a minute. 
Begin slowly adding the flour and keep mixing on the low speed. The dough will be ready when it begins to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. 

Turn out onto a floured work surface and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. 

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and roll it around in the oil until it's covered on all sides. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about two hours. 

Punch down the dough and move it on a floured work surface. Knead it for about a minute or so and divide it into two to three equal portions. Shape each portion into a loaf.

Place the loaves onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Score the tops to your liking. 
Cover each loaf with a towel, and allow to rise for one hour.

Have the oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celcius.

Bake for about thirty-five minutes. You'll know the bread is done if when tapped on the bottom the loaves sound hollow. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.



Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Broccoli Experience: Broccoli Yoghurt Salad with Fruit


All the broccoli enthusiasts are bound to adore this gorgeous salad! It's festive and it's both tangy and sweet. It's got multiple tastes and textures to enjoy which blend together very well. Even if one dislikes broccoli ... I don't think there are any people who dislike broccoli, but even — let's say hypothetically, even if there were, there is so much going on in this salad that the broccoli can be overlooked very easily. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 bunches of broccoli florets 
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple cut in cubes
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts
  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • Directions:

  • Make the dressing:
  • Combine the yoghurt, lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Mix well.
  • For the salad:
  • Into a large serving bowl combine the broccoli florets, the cheese, grapes, pineapple, dates, and nuts. Pour the dressing over and toss.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

A GARLIC CONFIT RECIPE

Let's face it: whatever its merits, the taste of raw garlic is heavy and may even cause stomach upset. However, there is always that lovely concoction called garlic confit which comes to the rescue by transforming raw garlic into a wonderful, mashable condiment. Yes, garlic confit turns the taste of garlic into a soft, sweet, and mellow experience! 

Garlic confit is made by slow-cooking garlic in a bath of olive oil that's flavoured with spices and herbs. In this way, garlic attains concentrated flavour while losing its sharp acidic taste. 

Each time I need garlic confit I make a small batch; it's easy and quick to make. I have what I need to use and there is a portion left over for adding to vegetables during the week to come. How about garlic confit on garlic bread??? Try it!

I start by peeling two heads (or three if they are on the small side) of garlic. The other ingredients I use are bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, and a little salt. 

The oven is preheated to 275°F/135°C


I grab a baking dish; a glass one will do the job nicely. In go the peeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, salt, and peppercorns. 
I add olive oil and a smidgeon of water to cover. 
I cover the dish and place it in the oven. 
Baking takes about fourty five minutes. When the garlic cloves become soft and slightly golden in colour, the garlic confit is ready. 
To store: Cool the confit. Transfer the contents to a clean resealable jar. 
During cooking, the garlic loses its acidity, therefore bacteria will build up if the jar and its ingredients are not kept clean and refrigerated. The jar must always be kept refrigerated and care should be taken that the lid and mouth of the jar aren't contaminated. Each time garlic is needed, it must be retrieved with a clean utensil. Don't place the same utensil in the jar twice. If more confit is needed, another clean utensil should be used.  For me, maximum storage time is a week to ten days.