Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

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Pizza

July 18, 2010


Crust and Crumb is an amazing book. I love it, I love bread so that’s probably why. Having said that the major problem is of course my intolerance of one of the most important ingredients. Yeast and I are not friends and yet I will not stop eating it!

I am slowly making my way through the different recipes, and today I started quite a bit today. I have made the Banana Bread, the French Bread II (with Pate Fermentee) and the White Sandwich Loaf. And have enjoyed every mouthful of all of them. I decided though that I wanted to make some bagels. So, I had to make some poolish style pre-ferment. This is a sponge made by combining yeast with a small amount of flour and a large amount of water. Due to the lack of resistance of dough, the yeast ferments and multiplies more quickly.

Like the recipe says due to the small amount of yeast that is already in this dish it makes it difficult to reduce the amount of fermentee you create. There is a suggestion of perhaps cutting the ingredients in half and using 1/8 t of yeast, but you can freeze the sponge if you want. Or you can just make the full batch and then make a lot of things! If you do decide to freeze the poolish you need to do so just before or after refrigerating it on the first night, otherwise it’s less reliable and take it out at least 24hours before you want to use it.

One of the many things I made with this pre-ferment is pizza dough.

Now the Husband makes a really good non-yeasted pizza dough that I love and actually prefer over this dough now that I’ve tried it. However, due to the fact that I had all this leftover poolish I wanted to give it a go. It is a nice flavoured dough but just didn’t have the same flavour that the Husband’s does. I would make it again if I had leftover poolish so it’s not a bad thing is it? There is 2 dough’s though so I could always try the other one as well.

The quantity of this was 3 pizza’s as I was catering for the parent’s-in-laws who came over to help the Husband mount our dryer so I could reclaim some space in my laundry, I needed to be mindful of tastes. So I went with a classic Hawaiian
a BBQ chicken
and pepperoni.

Poolish Style Pre-ferment


4 cups unbleached bread flour
4 cups cool water
1/4t instant yeast

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl large enough to hold the batter after it has doubled in volume. Beat or whisk for about 1 minute, until the batter is well mixed and quite smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 3-5hours or till foamy and bubbly. Refrigerate the poolish, well covered, and overnight.
Makes just over 3 pounds

Pizza Dough I


3.5 cups unbleached bread flour
2t salt
¼ t instant yeast
2T honey
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup plus 1T cool water
1 ¼ cup poolish

Combine all the ingredient in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (not dough) or a mixing bowl. Mix on a low speed for 1 minute and then increase to a medium speed and mix for about 12 minutes until the dough is smooth and creamy. It will be very thick and like pancake batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about 3 hours, till bubbly. Refrigerate overnight; it will thicken as it cools. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and divide into 3 pieces. Toss the pieces one at a time in flour, gently round into a bowl and mist the tops of the dough with cooking spray and cover with a plastic bag. Let the dough rise for at least 30 minutes before proceeding. Preheat the oven to 290C (or as high as your oven will go) prepare the oven for heath baking. Line an inverted sheet pan with parchment and mist. Spread out the dough and make it as thin as possible without tearing. Dress the pizza with the sauce and toppings you want. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve.

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Chicken Pie

July 17, 2010


Continuing with my desire to make pastry I decided I’d make my husband a chicken pie. Originally I wanted to make a Chicken & Leek Pie. However, I had no leeks, and actually I only had one onion. Terrible isn’t it? What’s a girl to do then? Improvise of course! That is of course what cooking is about isn’t it?

I used the recipe as a bit of a guide. A starting point so to speak. My improvisation consisted of a cabbage instead of leek. Bit of another way for me to get the Husband to eat more vegetables, which is very important to me. I also used some baby red capsicums that I had as well, they had been sitting in my fridge for awhile so into the food processor they went. The taste was surprisingly great! And it was sneaky enough that the Husband enjoyed it without any complaints and a healthy appetite.

I struggled a touch with the pastry as usual. I have a bit of pastry problem! I didn’t think about it completely, when assembling my pie. I followed the instructions, but obviously not properly. I put my lid on….after folding the edges down! Arg, these are simple things, but I don’t think of them until it’s all over red rover! So it didn’t look great, but it did taste good. So I guess perhaps I should focus on that? failures in looks aren’t really failures are they? The pastry was from How to be a Domestic Goddess

Chicken Pie

2 chicken breasts
¼ cabbage
3 baby red capsicum
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 can evaporated milk
70g feta – cubed
2 cloves garlic
1T dried onion (yes I know the horror)

Pastry
250g plain flour
125g cold butter – cubed
2 egg yolks
2T cold water
1t salt
1T caster sugar

Slice chicken breast up. Put cabbage and capsicum in food processor and chop up. Pour wine into a saucepan and place all ingredients but the evaporated milk and feta in. Boil away until the wine is reduced. Once reduced, add the evaporated milk and feta, and reduce this. Allow to cool.
Whilst cooling make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a dish and put the dish in the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the yolks, water and salt in a cup and put this cup in the fridge.
Then when the time is up tip the flour and butter into the food processor, add the sugar and pulse to combine – until it looks like something similar to sand. Bind with the egg yolks water and salt, and when it looks like its on the verge of coming together, tip the pastry out and work it together with your hands. Divide into 2 discs, one a little bigger than the other. Wrap in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for awhile.
Preheat the oven to 200C and butter a 22cm, springform tin. Roll out the large of the discs and place in the tin with an overhang. Sprinkle the bottom of this with some breadcrumbs and fill with the cold pie filling. Roll out the other piece of pastry and lay over the top, then fold the overhang and press down.
Glaze the pie with milk and egg and stab here and there. Cook for 10 minutes on the 200C before dropping it down to 180C for 45minutes.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving.

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June Challenge

June 18, 2010

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I was initially daunted, I’m not a pate person. I don’t like it, never had which is a shame because I do see the people enjoying it but then I was inspired by the 4 different pate recipes. It sent me on a search and I came up with a layered cheese pate which I loved!!

For the bread I went with a French Bread recipe from Crust and Crumb a bread that takes me 3 days to make!!! and I love it – despite my need to avoid yeast, this bread always destroys that I eat! and I enjoy! and its worth the pain!

The recipes I used follow, and I have no picture as of yet….its on the Husband’s camera, unprocessed and raw….I’ll add it as soon as I can! This was the 3rd time I’d made this dough, and the time that it was most successful. I must admit that I halved the recipe (the book comes with handy percentages so you can easily do this) but have provided it in it’s full form.

French Bread II (with Pate Fermentee)

Recipe By : Peter Reinhart, Crust and Crumb
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Bread

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
454 gm Unbleached All-purpose Flour
454 gm Unbleached Bread Flour
1 tsp Malt powder
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
610 gm cool water(65-70F)
454 gm pre-fermented dough
2 1/2 tsp salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flours, malt, yeast and water. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 4 minutes, or until a course dough has formed. Rest the dough for 20 minutes. (the autolyse)****

Cut the pate fermentee into small pieces. Add the salt, ascorbic acid and the pate fermente one piece at a time, with the mixer running on low speed. Mix for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not stick. Mix in extra flour or water(a few drops at a time) if necessary to achieve this consistency. The dough is ready when it passes the window pane test and is between 25 and 26C(neutral to the touch). If your machine is not big enough to handle a dough this large, complete the kneading by hand.
Place the dough in a bowl large enough to allow it to double in size. Mist the dough lightly with a cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes. It should just begin to swell.
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds.
Cut off 454gm of the dough for a future pate fermentee, if you desire. Put it in a bowl with a plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and refrigerate or freeze it.
Shape the remaining dough into a ball and put back in the bowl. Mist the dough lightly with the cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about 90 minutes or until doubled.
Scale, bench and shape the dough into loaves or rolls as desired. Place them on sheet pans or in baskets. If using pans, line them with parchment paper and dust with cornmeal or semolina for texture; if using
baskets, mist them with cooking spray and dust them with rice flour or
bread flour to prevent sticking. Lightly mist the top of the shaped dough with cooking spray to prevent
sticking and enclose the pans or baskets inside a large plastic bag. Let the dough rise for 15 minutes and then retard overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare the oven for hearth baking, making sure to place the empty steam pan on a lower rack. Preheat the oven to 250C. Make sure your water sprayer is filled.
Remove the pan of dough from the plastic 15 minutes before baking, to allow the surface of the dough to dry slightly. Just before baking, lightly score the bread( as desired) about half an inch deep at a
45degree angle(Before scoring, you may brush the bread with water with a touch of salt added, or with egg white mixed with water and a touch of salt). Fill a measuring cup with 1 cup of very hot tap water. Put the
loaves or rolls in the oven, either on sheet pans or by peel directly on the stone. Then pour the hot water into the empty steam pan(EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION). Quickly spritz the oven walls and bread, and close
the door.
After 2 minutes, quickly spray the oven walls and the bread again. Repeat in 1 minute. Then lower the oven temperature to 230C. Wait 10 minutes and check the bread(check rolls after 5 minutes). Rotate the bread, front to back, if it seems to be baking unevenly. When the bread has developed a rich, golden brown color, about 25 minutes, for loaves, 15 minutes for rolls, turn off the oven (or lower it to 175C if you plan to bake again). Leave the bread in the oven an additional 5-10 minutes, until it seems on the verge of over browning.
Remove the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool thoroughly before eating: 60-90 minutes for loaves, 20 minutes for rolls. The bread will taste best if eaten within 2 hours of cooling

****Using a 20 minute rest period when mixing dough with a machine minimizes mixing time, thus decreasing oxidation. Oxidation, caused by beating air into the dough, bleaches the flour, nullifying the positive flavour and aroma of the beta-carotene in the unbleached flour. This rest period is called the autolyse. While the dough rests, the protein fragments, glutenin and gliadin, continue to bond into gluten molecules, giving the dough its necessary structure.
The salt is added after the autolyse to allow the dough to hydrate more quickly(salt slows down hydration as well as fermentation). the pre-fermented dough is also added after the autolyse because it is already mixed and developed. You want it to have only enough additional mixing to incorporate it fully into the final dough.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Serving Ideas : Add pate fermentee(old dough pre-ferment)
NOTES : Using pre-fermented dough allows you to achieve a great loaf without retarding. There is also the advantage of having a finished loaf on the same day. However, the long, slow rise of overnight
retarding produces a a more spectacular loaf, richer in color, with a dramatic blistered crust.
By cutting off one pound of the finished dough, you can still make four 14 oz baguettes, leaving the pre-ferment for the next batch.

Layered Cheese Pate

Ingredients
2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 package Stilton
How to make Layered Cheese Pate
Combine cream cheese, Italian seasoning, and pepper in a mixing bowl, beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth.
Line 2 lightly oiled 3 x 2 inch loaf pans with plastic wrap, leaving a 1-inch overhang on each side.
Carefully spread about one-third of cream cheese mixture in loaf pan, smoothing to corners of pan.
Next, layer Gruyere cheese and chopped pecans, top with half of remaining cream cheese mixture.
Then layer 1/2 cup parsley and Stilton cheese, top with remaining cream cheese mixture, pressing mixture firmly.
Cover with overhanging plastic wrap, and allow cheese loaf to chill at least 8 hours.
To unmold, lift cheese loaf out of pan using the plastic wrap.
Remove plastic wrap, and I rolled it one in parsley and one in some chilli, then stacked them on top of each other.
Let cheese loaf come to room temperature before serving.

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Crostata

May 16, 2010


The latest in my delving into Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites was the Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta.

A Crostata is a free-form pie or tart that can be served as either a savoury or a sweet, and since I’m trying to branch out into more savoury cooking this seemed to fit the bill!

The mushrooms I used were Shiitake & Buna Shimeji two varieties I’d seen and heard about but never eaten. So I thought since the recipe called for an assortment of mushrooms without being specific I’d do something a bit different. It was interesting to note that the Buna-Shimeji had a slightly bitter taste when it was raw that completely disappeared when it was cooked.

I also couldn’t get my hands on any Fontina cheese, which is a semi-soft cow’s milk Italian cheese. It comes only from the Valle d’Aosta in Italy, and a true fontina has an orange-brown rind. It’s meant to be a quite creamy cheese and very mild and smooth. I’m keeping my eyes out for one now to try, not having had any when in Italy and wanting to give it a go. I jumped onto trusty Google and looked for substitutes, and the suggestion was a Gruyere, which is also a semi-soft cheese, though with a texture that is a bit grainy – so not as smooth as the Fontina sounds. Though both are described as having a slightly nutty flavour, which I can attest to in the Gruyere finding that a lot easier to locate!

Crostata with Mushrooms & Pancetta


Pastry crust

1.5 cups all purpose flour
½ t salt
3 T cold unsalted butter cut into chunks
½ cup mascarpone cheese
1.5 T lemon juice
3 T ice water

Mushroom Filling

4 T olive oil
57g diced pancetta (I used bacon as its all I had on hand)
2 shallots, minced
450g assorted mushrooms
1 T chopped thyme
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper
1/3 cup grated smoked, mozzarella
1/3 cup grated fontina cheese
2 T fresh grated Parmesan
1 large egg for glaze

For crust
In a food processor combine the flour and salt, and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is finely chopped and the mix looks like coarse meal. Add the mascarpone and lemon juice and pulse a few more times & then pulse in the ice water until the mix is moist and crumbly but not a ball of dough. Turn it out onto some cling wrap and press into a disk. Wrap it up and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

For Filling
Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large pan and add the pancetta cooking until crisp. Transfer this to a small bowl and set aside. Add the rest of the olive oil and cook the shallots for about 30 seconds and then add the mushrooms. Keep them cooking over a medium heat until all the moisture evaporates (about 12 minutes). Remove from the pan and add the pancetta along with the herbs. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to about 200C and unwrap the chilled dough and place it on some baking paper. Roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle and place this on a baking tray (on the baking paper, or another baking sheet). Stir the cheeses into the cooled mushrooms mixture. Place this on the centre of the dough, spreading out to about 2 inches from the edges. Fold the dough border up and glaze with egg. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes – or until golden. Slice and serve.

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Strata

May 1, 2010


It has been awhile, it really has and yet it’s not one of those things that you forget about. It’s not like some things, where the memory seems to be so much better than the reality when you finally experience it again. The simple enjoyment that you get from heading into the kitchen grabbing the kitchen aid, tying on an apron and getting started. That enjoyment remains the same no matter how long you stay away.

I have fallen back into old habits, after a long hard day at work, when I’m so tired all I seem to be able to manage is to snap at the Husband (poor man) I head into the kitchen and after half an hour I’m “normal”. My method of communication reverts back to the way it should be and I feel I can be nice to the man who’s boundless patience puts up with my tired grumpiness all of the time (bless his cotton socks).

I have decided to take a bit of a different approach to my kitchen experiences though, I was doing Flavour of the Month and I probably will do it again sometime. But looking back I noticed a pattern forming. A sweet pattern! And I really am trying to be a bit more health conscious since returning from my travels, and unfortunately for me that means a lot less sugar in my diet – if I want to function without migraines at the very least. So I thought I’d try to do a bit more of the savoury side of cooking.

I love to bake (ergo – grabbing kitchen aid) but I do like to cook as well. It’s the art of creating something in the kitchen that soothes me. In mind with that I decided to delve into Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites as my muse so to speak.

There are 106 recipes, and I plan to do them all. I have no time limit on this I have time I am more than certain that I will have the inclination to bake/cook the lovely things found within. And, I will admit that yes, the reason I chose it simply was because I had such fun eating in Italy I didn’t want it to stop completely. I’ve never been shy in saying that Italian food is my favourite cuisine in the entire world!

So – first cab off the rank was actually first recipe in the book. Fresh Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil. It’s a simple dish really, with a strong flavour that I quite enjoyed. I hoped fervently that the husband would enjoy it just as much as I, since he has been regaling everyone with tales of the cheese delights he experienced overseas, alas, Goat Cheese doesn’t seem to do it for him. Strong in a bad way were his words. I’m sure I could sub in a soft feta or even a ricotta and he’d enjoy it so perhaps next time?

Fresh Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil


Goat Cheese Filling

(half-ish recipe)
125g goat cheese, at room temperature
1/8 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup walnut pieces
2 ripe tomatoes cored and sliced

Herb Oil

(full recipe – the leftovers can keep for a day or two and drizzled on a variety of things)
¾ cup fresh mint leaves
¾ cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

To make the filling, combine the goat cheese and cream in a medium bowl and beat together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Season with salt & pepper.
To make the herb oil, combine the herbs in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop them. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream and process until very smooth visible flecks of herbs remaining and season.
Toast the walnuts and then allow too cool slightly.
Get yourself a slice of good crusty bread; place some of the goat cheese filling on this, topped with a slice of tomato, then a bit more of the goat cheese. Drizzle with the herb oil and sprinkle walnuts over the top.
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Haloumi bake

January 24, 2010


This Flavour of the Month from Nigella Biteshappened simply because I needed some comfort type food. And, funnily enough Nigella even pops this recipe in her comfort food section!

I was flipping through and pondering what to back, when I re-read the description where she speaks of almost caramelised onions and garlic and the uncompromising plain saltiness of the haloumi and I had just had to make it. The day had started out wonderfully – the Husband and I woke up at around 3am, grabbed some coffee in our travel mugs and hopped into the car to drive 45 minutes to a nearby point so that the Husband could try out his new lens and take some photos. All in practice for our impending trip he tells me, apparently one must practice with a new lens to take perfect shots with them. As you can all probably tell from my photos, me – not an avid photographer! I have a ‘fancy’ G10 – so it’s a bit more upmarket then just a standard point and shoot. And, I don’t use it on full auto, I do use it Aperture Priority, and I do change the ISO and well…I just play until the photo looks ok. I have PE7 installed so I can do some processing, but I don’t get the same enjoyment out of it that the Husband does and he has much more equipment then I do (40D, flash, 2 tripods with 2 heads, 5 different lenses (wants more), filters etc) and has a full version of Photoshop that he will spend hours using to process. Anyway, I digress, anyway the day started out wonderfully…

However, on arrival at said point, I decided that my coffee would finally be cool enough for me to consume and I tipped to take a big gulp, only to have it dribble all down my front! I investigate and the seal on my Brugo is now dead…..gone and buried, so no coffee for me. The Husband has his with milk so he’d been slowly drinking his whilst driving so he could not share with me. We had a pleasant enough time there, he took lots of photos, I took lots – his much better than mine of course and then headed off for breakfast with some friends. Coffee attempted again, this time I thought I’d try a latte, ick…weak! oh no! Good company though, even though they’d forgotten we were coming and so we had a mad dash run around getting ready before we headed out to breakfast. Thankfully they have a little near 2 yo who had them up anyway so at least we did not wake them!

On our way home we stopped so the Husband could get some new batteries for his flash, I grabbed another latte (and some raisin toast…I only had yoghurt for breakfast!) and thankfully this time it was nice! And I grabbed my sunglasses which were finally ready after 2 weeks of driving around with a squint! However, at this point my knee was aching!!! And it was HOT and I was over it! I got home and it was nearly lunch time and I decided that I needed comforting. Ergo, this recipe!

I had to adapt it a little, the Husband doesn’t like sweet potato, and I wanted to have some leftovers, so there was a bit more potato then originally called for and I didn’t have any peppers and I wasn’t willing at this point to go and get them. So next time around, I will add a red and yellow pepper to add some depth of flavour, but it worked out well without them. It just didn’t have all the good-mood colours Nigella spoke of. And I probably made the cheese a little more golden then some like, but it is as always a matter of personal preference.

Potato and Haloumi Bake


5 Desiree potatoes
1 onion
½ head of garlic
4T olive oil
Black pepper
125g Haloumi, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 200C
Cut the potato up. Halve the onion, and then cut into 4-6 segments. Separate the cloves of garlic. Put everything into a large roasting tin and using your hands give potato and onion with olive oil. Season with black pepper. Cook for 45 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Then place the cheese on the top and grill until the cheese is melted, serve.

Original recipe calls for 1 each red and yellow pepper deseeded, and 1 large sweet potato and 1 large Desiree – so try those if you like.

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Cheese experiences

August 16, 2009

As with my previous entry, I’m trying to expand my cheese repertoire. Not quickly, not in any odd way I’ve had all the standards and normals that one can find readily available at their local supermarkets. Not always the finest quality but it gives you the idea doesn’t it? I know I’m really a hard cheese girl.

It’s a texture thing I think, I’m like that with a lot of things. I like my porridge to be what people consider “stodgy” I don’t want it runny and mushy that’s bad! and so it goes with my cheeses. Firm hard cheese makes me happy.

Having said that, I came across what I believed to be a divine sounding pasta recipe which incorporates goat’s cheese. Now, from my experience (looking only) goat’s cheese has been a bit of soft cheese. Now I know that one can find firm goats cheeses. Or semi firm (feta would be a good example) but having said that, commonly in my experience it’s been a soft cheese.

So, ergo my avoidance has not been due to the fact that I think to myself “gosh goat….ewww” but more due to texture. However, on discovery of said recipe I decided I needed to give this cheese a go. Now I’ve not gone gun-ho and made the pasta – that will come later. But, I did head out and buy myself a goat’s cheese. I was visiting with family who are cheese lovers so I figured it was safe to get a cheese that perhaps I would not enjoy because I felt secure in the belief that if I didn’t eat it they certainly would.

And…I liked it! Texture remains a bit of an issue of course, but flavour…..good! so watch this space that pasta recipe will certainly be on its way!