Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Everyday Sourdough

My first sourdough bread! Yay! Have been wanting to make sourdough bread for ages, but the whole process sounds very intimidating, from the making of the sourdough starter to the baking! I finally took the plunge! 

Sourdough is slow- fermented bread. It does not use commercial yeast, but made with live fermented culture (sourdough starter), which acts as the leavening agent. The sourdough starter (the most basic one) is made by mixing flour and water. The most frustrating part of the whole process is the beginning, the making of the sourdough starter. It took mine, three whole weeks, feeding it with water and flour, before the starter began to grow to almost three times in volume and began to puff and bubbly and ready for baking. 

Meet Bubbles, the starter. It smells nice, yeasty, sour and sweet. 



My first sourdough bread is the most basic one, perfect for a newbie like me, Everyday Sourdough. I mixed the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I shape it and left to rise in a cloth-lined banneton for the second and final rise, then invert onto a parchment paper. Scatter some flour on the dough, and rub gently, then score the top with a cross-cut pattern. Transfer the dough together with the parchment paper onto a Dutch Oven, cover and bake in a very hot oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the bread and bake directly on the oven rack for a further 10 minutes to crisp the crust.



Let the bread cool completely before slicing.



Ooh... the crispy sound as the knife cuts into the crust, is like music to my ears! 😊 The crumb is soft with a mild sour taste, very nice!


Spread with butter, and lightly toasted, makes a delicious sandwich with some deli ham, tomato, avocado and lettuce greens. 

Both the starter and the Everyday Sourdough bread recipes are from this fabulous book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa. I love this book and am looking forward to try if not all, then most recipes from it!

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #34 

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts

If you are a nut lover, then do make these! They are addictive, just as Nigella says, "once you eat these, you will never want to stop"!

The nuts I've used are walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, peanut and almonds. Go easy on the salt. I have reduced the salt to half and thought that I could reduce it further. 



Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, and fragrant from the rosemary! This calls for a big glass of cold beer!


The Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts
(Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson)
2-1/4 cups assorted unsalted nuts, including peeled peanuts, cashews, Brazil nuts,
hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and whole unpeeled almonds
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Maldon or other sea salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Toss the nuts in a large bowl to combine and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven till they become light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and melted butter.
Thoroughly toss the toasted nuts in the spiced butter and serve warm.

Cookbook Countdown is cooking with Nigella Lawson this month. Make any dish of Nigella and join us. Or simply cook any recipe from any of your cookbook collection (other than Nigella's), and join us at Cookbook Countdown.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #34 



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pasta with Meatballs

What's not to love about meatballs? Cooked in a saucy tomato sauce and top over pasta, makes a satisfying meal. This delicious recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, from her book, Nigella Bites. In her recipe, she served with her homemade pasta, but I have taken the easier route, with dried pasta, Spaghettini, which I had in my pantry.



The meatballs are very tasty. We did enjoy this pasta meal very much!


Pasta with Meatballs
(Nigella Bites, by Nigella Lawson)
for the meatballs :
9 ounces ground pork
9 ounces ground beef
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
good grind of black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Just put everything together in a large bowl and then, using your hands, mix to combine before shaping into small balls (about a teaspoon amount). Place the meatballs on baking sheets or plates that you have lined with plastic wrap, and put each in the refrigerator as you finish them.

for the tomato sauce :
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra-virgin)
24 ounces canned tomatoes in puree
3/4 cup water
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon while milk (I use 2-3 tablespoons)

Put the onion, garlic and oregano into the processor and blitz to a pulp. Heat the butter and oil in a deep, wide pan, then scrape the onion-garlic mix into it and cook over low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Don't let the mixture stick, just let it become soft. Add the tomatoes and then add about 3/4 cup cold water to the pan with the pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes. The tomato sauce may appear thin at this stage, but don't worry, as it will thicken a little later. Stir in the milk, and then drop the meatballs in one by one. Don't stir the pan until the meatballs have turned from pink to brown, as you don't want to break them up. Cook everything for about 20 minutes, with the lid only partially covering it. At the end of cooking time, check the seasoning, as you may want more salt and a grind or two more of pepper.


Cookbook Countdown is cooking with Nigella Lawson this month. Make any dish of Nigella and join us. Or simply cook any recipe from any of your cookbook collection (other than Nigella's), and join us at Cookbook Countdown.

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #34