Monday, March 30, 2015

Tomato and Bread Salad

"Farewell Diana Henry", this is the theme for our final week with Diana Henry at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). Six months have already gone by and it has been a delicious six months. I have not heard of Diana Henry before this, and joining IHCC is a wonderful way of getting to know a new chef, whether we are familiar with or not. Much as I have enjoyed cooking with Diana Henry (love her chicken recipes), it is time to move on to our next chosen chef, Jacques Pepin and looking forward to some French cooking in my kitchen! IHCC starts with a new chef every six months, you are welcome to join us, the more the merrier! Drop by IHCC for more details.

To say "Farewell Diana Henry", (though I'll definitely be seeing her again for our Potluck Weeks), I've made her salad, "Spanish Tomato and Bread Salad". I did make a few changes though. I've used some leftover homemade Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia which I've kept frozen, instead of using ciabatta as advised in the recipe. However I did not soak the bread in milk, and fried, as indicated in the recipe. I merely place the chunks of the torn foccacia in a roasting tray, drizzle with some olive oil, and toast them in the oven until they are lightly crisp.

Now I love capers! And thought that I had an unopened jar in my pantry somewhere. I searched and practically empty out my pantry cupboard, but no, there's not a jar of capers around! What I found was, one jar of black olives, two jars of green olives and a small can of Manzanilla olives stuffed with anchovies. Since the recipe did ask for anchovies, so I've used the stuffed Manzanilla olives with anchovies.
Capers is on my grocery list now!

I've used a mixture of sweet, yellow and red cherry tomatoes. A simple, easy and wonderful salad to put together. I've served this alongside some roasted chicken, and it makes a lovely side dish.

Spanish Tomato and Bread Salad
(adapted from "Food From Plenty", Diana Henry)
Serves 4
200gm (7oz) bread (such as ciabatta)
5 tbsp milk
700gm (1lb 9oz) mixed tomatoes
20 canned anchovies
2 tbsp tiny capers, rinsed
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tsp caster sugar
leaves from 1 bunch basil (about 15gm/1/2oz) torn
3 tbsp olive oil, for frying

  1. Tear the bread into chunks and put into a bowl with the milk. Turn the bread over in the milk and leave for 15 minutes or so. Halve the small tomatoes and cut the large ones into quarters or eighths; you may want to leave some of the tomatoes whole if they are really tiny; you just need a good selection of colour and shape. Put into a broad, shallow serving bowl with all the other ingredients except the basil (which is better tossed in at the last moment) and the oil for frying.
  2. Squeeze the milk out of the bread. It doesn't matter if some chunks seem to be falling apart; just reform them by squeezing with your hand. Heat the olive oil for frying and cook the bread pieces in batches, so that they become a lovely golden colour all over the outside.
  3. Add the basil to the salad along with the bread, toss well and serve.


Farewell Diana Henry and Thank You!

Here's a few of our favourite Diana Henry's recipes 

I'm linking this post with :
I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "Farewell Diana Henry"


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Honey and Dried Fruit Loaf

A simple fruity loaf, which is made into two small mini loaves. This bread uses the sponge dough method, and it gives a soft crumb texture. Any dried fruits can be used, here I have used dried cranberries, dried apricots and raisins. The dried fruits are first soaked in water or rum till soft and plump, then drain and dab with kitchen towel to dry them well.

Ingredients for the sponge dough is mixed and left to ferment for 2 hours. Then the ingredients for the main dough is mixed with the sponge dough which is cut into small pieces. Butter is added and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Flatten the dough on a work surface, scatter the dried fruits and gently knead them in till evenly distributed into the dough. Roll into a ball, place in greased bowl, covered with greased cling wrap and left in a warm place to rise till doubled in size. Punch dough down and divide into two equal portions. Cover with cling wrap to let dough relax for 10 minutes. Roll each round to a rectangle, roughly to the length of the loaf pan, roll them up Swiss-roll style and place in the loaf pans, with the seams facing down. Cover with greased cling wrap and leave to rise till doubled in size. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown. The top tends to get brown rather quick as this bread has honey, so tent the top with foil if the top is browning too fast.

This fruity loaf is lovely when eaten on the day it is baked. It has soft and moist crumbs. On the next day, the crumb is not as soft but is still quite nice to eat with a cup of coffee or tea. I was sort of expecting a sweeter taste to this bread, but to my surprise, there's not a hint of sweetness at all. The next time, I would add some sugar, maybe about 1-2 tablespoons and a pinch of salt to the dough, as I feel that it needs it. 

Honey and Dried Fruit Loaf
(adapted from : "Bread of Water-roux, Sponge-dough and Old-dough Methods", by Debbie)
Sponge Dough :
200gm bread flour
4gm fast-action dried yeast
30gm egg
95gm milk

Main Dough :
100gm bread flour
45gm honey
30gm butter
45gm water

Filling :
30gm dried cranberries
70gm dried figs (I replaced with black raisins)
45gm dried apricots

  1. For the filling : Cut the dried fruits into large dices. Soak the diced fruits in warm water or rum until soft. Strain before use, dab dry with kitchen towel.
  2. To mix the sponge dough : Mix all sponge dough ingredients and knead until the dough is shiny and smooth. Put into a mixing bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours for fermentation. Put the dough on a counter top and cut into small pieces.
  3. Put pieces of sponge dough and main dough ingredients (except butter) into a mixing bowl and mix with a spoon.
  4. Turn mixture onto a counter top and knead with hands until combined.
  5. Add butter and knead until thin membrane formed.
  6. Press the dough flat with your hands. Spread with the filling and knead until the fillings are evenly distributed.
  7. Roll the dough into a round. Place into a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set aside for about 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  8. Test the dough with a finger ; punch a hole at the center of the dough and if it just shrinks slightly, the fermentation has finished.
  9. Turn the dough out to a counter top and press flat with hands to remove air. Divide into 2 equal portions,
  10. Roll each portion into a round. Cover with cling wrap and set aside for 10 minutes to let it relax.
  11. Have ready two greased loaf pans ; size 16x9x6-cm. Roll the dough with a rolling pin into rectangular shape, roughly the length of the pan. Roll the dough Swiss-roll style.
  12. Place the dough, seam-side down into the greased pans, cover with greased cling wrap and set aside for 45 minutes until doubled in size.
  13. Bake in a 190C preheated oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Since there is honey in the dough, its surface tends to turn brown rather quickly. Cover the top with foil when the top is browning too fast.

I'm linking this post with :


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sea Bass with Lebanese Herb Sauce

"March  Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For our Potluck week, we are free to cook with any of our featured chefs at IHCC. And I've chosen to cook with Diana Henry, the current featured chef. We only have one more week to go, before we start with the next selected chef, Jacques Pepin, on April 6th.

Back in November, I have made one of Diana Henry's fish recipe, Spanish Baked Fish, and it was so good that I've made it one more time after that. Even now, I have a large piece of sea bass in my freezer, as I'm planning to make it again sometime this week. Yes, we love this dish a lot!

Diana Henry has quite a collection of interesting fish recipes. And this Sea Bass with Lebanese Herb Sauce is one of them. Seeing how much my family love her Spanish Baked Fish, I decided to try this recipe for dinner. Well, just as I've expected, this is a delicious dish.

Another quick and easy dish to cook. The sea bass is cleaned, gutted, scaled and make three slashes on each side of the fish. Brush the inside and out with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in a roasting pan and bake 8 minutes, for a small fish. The sea bass I used is quite large, so I baked it for about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cilantro and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the fish is fully cooked. Serve it immediately with the herb sauce.

For the herb sauce, I made some adjustments to the quantity of the herbs. Diana Henry has used a tablespoon each of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fresh mint leaves, and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro. I know that my family loves more sauces in just about anything! So I have used more than the recipe calls for, about half a cup of flat-leaf parsley, a quarter cup of mint leaves and a whole cup of chopped fresh cilantro. Everything goes into the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients, except the chopped fresh chilli which is to be added just before serving. Another adjustment I made was, to reduce the amount of olive oil from 1 cup to 1/3 cup and I feel that it was enough. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. Pour into a bowl, add in the chopped fresh chilli and serve immediately with the baked fish.

A very tasty dish. I'm so glad I've made more sauce! Very good eaten with the tender and flaky fish! I asked my family which fish dish they prefer, the Spanish Baked Fish or this? According to them both are delicious, but they would not mind having the Spanish Baked Fish again. Obviously they have a favourite! :)
My daughter seems to love this herby sauce. She says it is really delicious eaten with white rice, and she is right!

Sea Bass with Lebanese Herb Sauce
(adapted from "Pure Simple Cooking", Diana Henry)
Serves 4
4 (10-oz) whole sea bass or porgy, gutted, trimmed and scaled
olive oil
salt and pepper
1-1/2 tsp each of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and cilantro (I've used more!)

Sauce :
1 cup extra-virgin oil (I use about 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp superfine sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley  (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves (about 1/4 cup)
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (about 1 cup)
1 medium fresh red chile, halved, seeded, and chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Make three slashes on each side of each fish. Brush the fish inside and out with olive oil and season with salt and pepper all over. Put into an ovenproof dish or roasting pan and bake for 8 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and cilantro. Bake for 5 minutes. The fish is cooked when the flesh near the bone is white and opaque.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the sauce, except the chile, into a blender and puree. Taste for seasoning, then add the chopped chile. Serve the fish immediately with the sauce.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "March Potluck"




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