Monday, April 27, 2015

Focaccia... A Baker's Challenge

For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch.

While Jim and I have been low carbing for a while now.....the opportunity to make a small batch of focaccia for Ike was very welcome.  I took the recipe from Allrecipes for Focaccia bread and scaled it down to 1/2 size.  At this size it was more than ample for the three of us.  Yes we did try some, and it was very good.  The recipe was adjusted only slightly based on what we had on hand.  I can't wait to  make some this summer in my parent's outdoor pizza oven:)  There is so much variety for toppings and seasonings to add, but this very simple version was perfect as is...very light after the second rising, and easy enough for my son to make:)

Focaccia (adapted from All

1 1/3 cup flour plus 1 Tbsp
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 tsp each garlic, oregano , thyme
1/4 tsp basil
pinch black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water

1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
olive oil to drizzle on top

Work first 9 ingredients into a dough using a stand mixer, bread machine on dough mode or by hand.  Let sit to rise until double in size after rolling in an oiled bowl so the dough does not dry out.  Punch down the dough and pat out onto a greased cookie sheet into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle.  Poke dimples into the dough and sprinkle with cheese and any other desired toppings.  Let sit to rise for a further 20 minutes.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in preheated 450F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Quick Curried Beef- In the pressure cooker

I really liked this recipe for a quick curried beef  it was meant to be a recipe for a hand pie filling, and I can no longer find the source.....but it worked very well to serve on rice as well.  Quick and made with what was on hand.

Curried Beef

2 lbs stewing beef cut in 1 inch cubes
2 cups water
2 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 Tbsp beef soup base powder
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp basil
1 1/2 tsp parsley
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Vindaloo curry paste
2 tsp soy sauce

1 cup mixed vegetables (I used frozen peas and fresh carrots)

2 Tbsp corn starch and water to thicken

Cut meat into 1 inch cubes and dry well with paper towel.  Season meat with salt and pepper and brown in batches in the oil over medium high heat.  Remove browned meat to a plate while doing the remaining batches and adding extra oil if needed.  Once all meat is browned, return it to the pot with all remaining seasonings. and a few Tbsp of the water.  Stir to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom.  Add in remaining water so that you have 2 cup in total added.  Put on the lid to your pressure cooker and bring up to 15 lb pressure over a high heat setting (around 8 on my stove)....or high setting.  Once the pressure button has indicated you are up to pressure, and there is a steady stream of steam escaping the pot...turn down the heat on the stove to medium (enough so that steam continues to stream out steadily, but not forcefully.  Begin timing for 20 minutes.  At the end of 20 minutes remove pot from element and let the pot depressurize naturally.  If you are in a rush, you can depressurize quickly.  Open the pot, return to heat and bring to simmer.  Adjust heat to keep at a simmer and add in your vegetables.  Cook until vegetables are tender, stirring periodically.  Once veggies are ready, mix cornstarch with cold water and stir into the pot to thicken.  You can add only half of the corn starch mixture and see if it is may not need it all...or you may want to add more depending on the thickness you like.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ontbijtkoek for Breakfast

I was out looking for a recipe to make Taai taai when I stopped in at the daring bakers to check out the December challenge.  I was interested to try Ontbijtkoek as I never have before, and I do love spice cakes and gingerbread.
For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread. 
Ontbijtkoek is a breakfast cake or loaf that is so common in Holland that it is primarily store bought with only a few recipes for it online.  It varies from region to region, but I liked the sound of this recipe as it contained rye flour which offers an interesting texture and flavour.  The cake is commonly served sliced with butter and is served with a cup of hot coffee or tea.  The texture of the loaf is heavier, and quite sticky from all the sugar sources, but I believe this is how it should be.  You may adjust the spices up or down depending on your preferences, but you may consider this to be comparable to a gingerbread loaf in flavour.  Some recipes contained the addition of candied ginger, mixed peel, and raisins to the mix, and I believe these would all be good additions.  This loaf is very very moist and it is best eaten a day after being baked to allow the spices a chance to develop.  Today this loaf is four days old and it is still perfectly fresh and moist.  It needs no frosting and is just right with a thick spread of butter.  If you like spice cakes and gingerbread flavours, this one is very much worth the try and is a little different.  I love spiced cakes, so I was a slightly heavy handed with the spice addition and used golden sugar rather than dark brown as it is what I had on hand...I added a wee bit more molasses because of that.  Loved this and will make it again....I believe the neighbours can expect to receive a loaf to try in the near future.

(from The Dutch Table)

1 cup rye flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 cup milk
pinch of salt

Sift all dry together to break up any lumps from the brown sugar.  You will need to break up any brown sugar lumps that will not pass through the  sifter by hand.  Add in liquid ingredients and mix to a smooth batter.  (I used a stand mixer and mixed in the milk first until smooth and then added the remaining molasses and honey)  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 300 F for about 80 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. (I lined my pan with a strip of parchment).  Once cooled wrap loaf in foil and let rest a day before slicing ...if you can wait that long.  Wrapping in foil will make the crust a bit sticky which appears to be as it should.