Homemade Foccacia

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

This is a bread recipe that you don’t need to knead, is quick to prepare, and doesn’t need a fancy pan. Also, you get to cover your hands with olive oil and stick them in squishy bread dough, which is reason enough to make it!

It’s my go-to recipe if I’m having people over for appetizers.

Smaller crumb on this batch from a shorter second rise

Smaller crumb on this batch from a shorter second rise

Ingredients

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon quick-rise yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons truffle oil (or olive oil, if you don’t have it)
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp salt
4 3/4 bread flour

Topping

1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh rosemary
2 tsp course sea salt (Maldon is a good option)
If you have don’t have fresh herbs, or resent paying £2 for them at the store (must get herb garden!), use a smaller quantity of dried herbs.

How to make Foccacia

Stir 2 cups warm water and yeast in large bowl, and mix in 3 tablespoons olive oil, truffle oil (or just olive oil to sub), freshly ground pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Add 1 cup flour. Stir until mixed in. Add enough of remaining 3 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, to form dough that is soft, sticky and not completely smooth, stirring until well incorporated.

Oil a separate large bowl, scrape dough in, and cover in plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in warm draft-free area until it’s grown to double in volume, about 45 minutes.

Put a bit of oil on a baking sheet. Slide out the dough onto your sheet and gently pull and stretch dough so that dough almost covers baking sheet. Press fingertips all over top of dough to form indentations. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, rosemary and coarse salt. Loosely with plastic wrap.

Let rise again in a warm draft-free area until puffed, about 15 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can bake it right away, but it won’t have as nice of a rise.

Preheat to 450°F or 230°C. Bake focaccia until deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool. If you’re not sure it’s done, lift up the bread using a spatula and check the bottom. It should be cooked and a bit hollow to the touch.

Serve beside a shallow dish of olive oil and vinegar, olive oil and good quality sea salt (my favorite), or make it more meal-like with some charcuterie meats, olives, and hummus.

Foccacia with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Foccacia with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

About yeast

You’ll typically see two different types of yeast called for in a recipe. Traditional yeast (or Active Dry yeast) is what I grew up using- you need to ‘activate’ or proof the yeast before using it in a recipe by letting it sit for about 10 minutes in warm water and a bit of ‘food’ for the yeast, sugar or honey.  Instant yeast can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients (flour) without activating/proofing it. Both work perfectly – I’d suggest sticking to the Instant as it’s easier and lets things rise faster. (It’s also called rapid rise, or quick rise, just to keep you on your toes). Keep jars of yeast in the fridge once you’ve opened it- it’ll last about 3 months. Or, buy the individually sealed packs.

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Cider Glazed Lamb Chops

February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

These lamb chops are quick and to prepare, absolutely delicious, and don’t require too many ingredients.

I made this for my wonderful friend Heather for Valentine’s Day- she’s a fabulous cook but mentioned she had never cooked lamb! It’s just like steak. But much easier. Honestly. Try it! Right now! OK, you’re at work right now, but for dinner? I PROMISE you won’t regret it.

What you’ll need

1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger*
3 tablespoons soya sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (I didn’t have any this time around – I used red wine vinegar, still delish)
1 rack of lamb chops (about 3 pieces per person)
1 green onion

I like the garlic and ginger better when it's roughly chopped

Put the cider, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and honey in a pot and lightly boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove about 2 tablespoons for glazing. While it’s cooling, prep the lamb.

Preheat the broiler, setting up a rack so the pan will sit about 3-4 inches from the heat. Take your rack of lamb chops, and slice them til they are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch (just between each bone). Pat them dry, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and arrange them on a broiler rack. brush one side with the glaze. Broil for 3 minutes, take out, turn, brush the other side, and broil for another 3-4 minutes. Voila.

Transfer to a plate, cover with remaining glaze, and keep tented under foil until everything’s ready to be served. Serve with chopped green onion on top.

Eat, enjoy, and wish you made more (I know I did).

peeling ginger with a teaspoon!

*did you know ginger is easiest (for me, at least) to peel with a teaspoon?

London and No-Knead Bread

February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

After a three month sabbatical off work (well, really, off life!), I’m back. Blogging that is, but not back in Vancouver.

Claudia’s Kitchen is now in London!

I’ll start updating my culinary adventures again, along with observations from a Canadian in London.

For example, did you know the orange light on stop lights is used both to stop and go here? I know. Blows your mind, right?

(You probably also knew the traffic runs the opposite way. I’m still struggling with that one).

ANYWAY. Magic bread.

When there’s a lot of uncertainty in my life, I like to bake. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and (usually) turns out the way I plan (life isn’t that easy). I’m looking for a job now in London, which inevitably gives me moments where I feel inadequate or I think to myself, “oh, &^#$, what am I doing here?!”

You know what helps? Making a delicious loaf of bread. I’ll know I’ll always be able to make bread. And bread this pretty!

Executive summary of how to make this deliciously simple, totally amazing bread:

  1. The day before you want bread, mix flour, water, and a bit of yeast. Stir and cover with plastic.
  2. Three and a half hours (the next day) before you want bread, give it a little mix, cover with flour, leave on counter.
  3. An hour and a half before you want bread, turn on the oven and put a pot with a lid inside.
  4. An hour before you want bread, put dough in pot, lid on pot, and put in oven. Bake with lid on for thirty minutes, and another 15 without the lid on.
  5. Remove from oven when brown, marvel at bread magic.

It’s almost no hands on time- just requires a bit of advanced thinking. Basically, the fermentation time allows the yeast to activate the gluten in the flour over time, so instead of you doing the work, the yeast does. Cooking it in a pot with a lid allows the steam to surround the loaf when it cooks, giving it a perfect crust.

The amounts and all that

3 cups flour (you can use all purpose or bread flour- I did bread and I’ll try it next time with whole wheat and bread)
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 5/8 cups Water

Mix the flour, yeast, and salt together. Add water and stir. Let sit for 12-18 hours.

Flash forward 12-18 hours, your dough surface should be dotted with bubbles. Cover some of your counter with flour, pour the dough out on there, pull it together with your hands once or twice, cover with plastic, and leave it for 15 minutes. (Perfect timing to clean your kitchen!)

Shape the dough into a ball (put flour on your hands if you’re getting sticky). Coat a teatowel with flour, and put the dough seam side down on it. Cover again with a tea towel. Let sit for two hours.

After an hour and a half, turn on your oven and throw a pot in (cast iron, ceramic, enamel… just no plastic, ok?)

Once your two hours is up, carefully take the pot out, plop your dough in, and bake for half an hour with the lid on. Take the lid off and bake until browned, 15 – 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Sausage Carbonara

May 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

Do you ever eat an amazing meal and wonder if it was actually the food? Sometimes it’s the atmosphere, the company, or the wine that can make a meal memorable. I feared that may be the case with this dish – so I made it again. And again.  And it was still exceptional.

This is a foolproof pasta (I made it at 2am once- still worked perfectly) that is a welcome variation on a traditional tomato or alfredo sauce. The ingredients are pretty easy to find and you can get it all together in 30 minutes or less.

I absolutely love Jamie’s Italy– it was a gift from the boss at Christmas this year and I have cooked over 10 recipes in it, all of which I love. You’ll see more from the book later, but for now, here is a phenomenal pasta dish that’s quick, easy and so damn good.

Recipe instructions are from http://www.jamieoliver.com/ with a few notes.

Ingredients

• 4 good-quality organic Italian sausages
• olive oil
• 4 slices of thickly cut pancetta, chopped (it’s cheapest to get this in the deli section instead of buying a whole package)
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 500g dried linguine (I used fresh and I liked it better)
• 4 large free-range or organic egg yolks
• 100ml double cream (aka whipping cream)
• 100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• zest of 1 lemon
• a sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
• extra virgin olive oil

How to make it happen

Slit the sausage skins lengthways and pop the meat out. Using wet hands, roll little balls of sausage meat about the size of large marbles and place them to one side. I like smaller meatballs better.

Heat a large frying pan and add a good splash of olive oil. Gently fry the sausage meatballs until golden brown all over, then add the pancetta and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, until it’s golden. While this is cooking, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the linguine, and cook according to the instructions.

In a large bowl, whip up the egg yolks, cream, half the Parmesan, the lemon zest and parsley. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water, and immediately toss it quickly with the egg mixture back in the pasta pan. Add the hot sausage meatballs and toss everything together. The egg will cook delicately from the heat of the linguine, just enough for it to thicken and not scramble.

The sauce should be smooth and silky. If the pasta becomes a little claggy (thick, or if it’s sticking together), add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water to loosen it slightly. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan, season if necessary, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve. Eat immediately!

Lamb Shanks

March 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

This is a really easy, hands off recipe with outstanding results. The lamb was falling off the bone after two and a half hours, and the flavour of the swiss chard/sauce mixture was fantastic.  It’s a great dish to throw together if you have people coming over for dinner on the weekend- most of the prep and cooking happens a few hours before it’s served, and it made my apartment smell delicious!

I cooked it with three lamb shanks and kept the same amount of sauce- if you are doing six shanks, I recommended doubling the sauce (keep the swiss chard to two bunches though).

Directions slightly modified from the original recipe from Bon Appétit here

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided
  • 6 1- to 1 1/4-pound lamb shanks
  • Generous amount of olive oil for the pan
  • 12 green onions, chopped, divided
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) beef broth
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled in your hand
  • Large pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds Swiss chard (about 2 bunches)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 5.25-ounce packages bulgur (about 2 cups), prepared according to package directions (you could also use mashed potatoes, couscous, or quinoa)

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.

    Mix flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in pie dish to blend. Coat lamb shanks in seasoned flour. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the lamb shanks until brown (in batches if necessary) about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan – keep using the skillet.

    Add half of your green onions to same skillet. Reduce the heat to low and stir for two minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, raisins, tomato paste, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cardamom, saffron, and cloves (it makes sense to mix these all together beforehand). Increase heat and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour the mixture over lamb, or add the lamb to the skillet if it’s oven proof and large enough.

    Cover roasting pan/skillet with foil and place in oven. Braise lamb until tender, turning every 30 minutes, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove the lamb and set it aside aside.

    Meanwhile, cut center rib (including stem portion) from each chard leaf. Cut chard ribs crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Stack several leaf halves at a time and cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.

    Tilt roasting pan/skillet and spoon off all fat from top of sauce that pools at lower end. Set roasting pan/skillet over 2 burners. Add chard ribs and remaining green onions and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Return lamb to roasting pan. Cover and return to oven. Braise until chard ribs are tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover; mix chard leaves into pan juices. Return pan to oven and roast uncovered until chard softens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

    Transfer lamb to rimmed platter. Season chard mixture in pan to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon chard mixture over lamb. Sprinkle with parsley; serve with bulgur, mashed potatoes,  couscous, or quinoa.

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