Roast chicken with bacon and leek 5 2016

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Leeks and Teaching the Boy to Cook

I have wicked spring fever!  It looks like winter is leaving early this year.  Obviously this could change but I am really hoping it doesn’t.  It is so beautiful out.  And it so nice to be out of the windowless office.

A few weeks ago my son mentioned he wanted to cook dinner for us so we had him go through our cookery books to see what he would like to try out.  He found a recipe for roast chicken that had a bacon stuffing with seaweed.  With the exception of me, no one else would want seaweed and I don’t like roasting birds stuffed.  So we brain stormed and came up with our own recipe.  We finally had time to do it last night and it was a lot of fun to cook with him.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 1 2016

Preheat the oven to 325F/150C.  Place the chicken in a shallow roasting pan.  Add water and a bit of sherry to the pan.  Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  This chicken was just under 4lbs so we cooked it for an hour and a half.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 2 2016

Cut up 4 rashers of streaky bacon and render it into the skillet.  While I was doing this my son was working on his knife skills getting the mushrooms and leeks ready.  He’s 11 so I handled the raw meat and he took care of everything else.  I was impressed with how he did.  :)

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 3 2016

Drain excess bacon fat then add the leeks and mushrooms to the skillet.  Saute until the leeks have softened then add about a cup to a cup and a half of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add a couple of tablespoons of cognac and about the same amount of stone ground mustard.  Stir well to blend and simmer to reduce by a third or so.

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 4 2016

I had my son taste test to see if it was balanced.  I have to say he has a really good palette.  So I had him adjust the flavours as needed.  He did really well with that!

Roast chicken with bacon and leek 5 2016

Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving.  We served it with roast potatoes and parsnips.

I really enjoyed spending one on one time with him doing this meal.  He’s a neat kid.  :)

Mod podge coasters 9 2016

The Mod Podge of Life and Healing

Like millions of people in this world I find myself on a journey of healing.  Both emotionally and physically.  It’s a bumpy ride of leaps forward and backward.   I’ll be starting physical therapy again as it turns out my back is unstable enough to be reinjured by putting my little nephew to bed, sneezing, and pulling up a handbrake in my car.  That’s not frustrating or anything.

I was finally, a couple of weeks ago, given meds to help manage the fibro.  I was told today it can take a couple of months to kick in but I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will help.  It has helped with depression and anxiety which is a major plus.  So I will keep going with it in the hopes that it will tick all the boxes.

Emotionally I made a breakthrough.  Several weeks ago something happened that was like ripping off a bandaid.  For years I was always in protective mode from being under attack but not realising where it was coming from.  Now I know.  It’s both heartbreaking and illuminating which makes it hard to process.  But for the first time I feel like I’m going to get to a place where I am healed.  I’m more relaxed in a lot of areas in my life now.  I can take deeper breaths.  And that translates into my family life as well.  I feel really positive.

Now if I can just get through the day without sneezing!

Given this is March, this is obviously a late post as it’s about a gift I made for Christmas.  Been working a lot of hours this tax season!  I wanted to make gifts this Christmas, one to save money, and two to give something personal.  It’s a way I show my love.  Because I am a slow knitter and stuff with yarn work I had to branch out and pick something new.  I decided it was high time to try Mod Podge.  I just didn’t want it to look cheesy.  Let’s just say some of the projects in the introductory book are a little over the top!

I thought making coasters would be a great way to use some of my favourite pictures of flowers I’ve taken over the years.  And it is relatively inexpensive to make once you buy the basic supplies.  I bought a bottle of matte mod podge, glossy mod podge, and acrylic spray.  For this project I bought white tiles and cork to go on the bottom on the tiles.

Mod podge coasters 1 2016

Mod podge coasters 2 2016

Print out on photo paper the pics you want.  Trim to size.  Because photo paper is heavy use craft glue to afix the pic to the tile and smooth to make sure there aren’t any bubbles.  Let that dry and set for a day.  Then paint the mod podge over the pic and the sides of the tile.  Don’t put it on thickly.  It will cloud the pic but it dries clear.  This requires 3 coats but it is very important to make sure each coat dries completely before doing another coat.

Mod podge coasters 5 2016

Mod podge coasters 6 2016

Glue the cork onto the bottom of the tile.  Now the first time I did the coasters this is the point I screwed up.  For some reason I stacked the tiles and weighted them down so the cork would stick.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  The glue seeped through and ruined the integrity of the mod podge.  So I had to repeat the previous steps and start over.

To make the coasters waterproof do about three light coats of the acrylic spray, allowing it to dry completely between coats.

Mod podge coasters 9 2016

I also did up a project for each of the kids.  My son loves Minecraft so I printed out some images and arranged them in a creeper pattern on a canvas I painted green.  I used the glossy mod podge for this.  It’s a little trickier getting the photo paper to stick to canvas so I had to be really patient.

Mod podge coasters 7 2016

My daughter has done her room in greys so I printed out three pictures of our travels in black and white and mod podged them onto square canvases.   I used the matte mod podge without any sprays for this project.

Mod podge coasters 8 2016

All in all I like this technique and have a few ideas to try after tax season.  The only pain in the neck is trying to do it with pets.  You invariably find dog or cat hair in the mod podge after it dries.  Or as it is drying and trying to remove it is a delicate process!

Greek Orzo Chicken

Finally I have a day off!  It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks straight out with the first peak of tax season so I’m in my comfy clothes relaxing and recharging my batteries.  And doing a long overdue blog post!

I was hoping to do one a few days ago but our silly dog had to be taken to the vet due to an ear infection.  The poor thing was shaking his head so much I thought he’d run out of brain cells and he doesn’t have a surplus!  He’d look at us with one ear up and one ear deflated.  Cute looking but definitely needed to get seen to.  I just wish they understood we are trying to help them.  He did not like his ear being examined and kept backing away.  I felt so bad but the meds are working and the ear is starting to be less deflated.

One of my food memories is eating orzo with chicken and green olives.  I loved that dish.  But I don’t have that recipe and since my family aren’t huge fans of olives I needed to find something different.  In my “The Foods of the Greek Islands” cookery book by Aglaia Kremezi there is a recipe for Baked Chicken with Orzo.  I changed it up a bit and did it on the stove top instead of the oven.

Greek orzo chicken 1 2016

This dish has a lot of strong flavours in this dish with the sundried tomatoes and garlic.  In a large skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Cube up about 3/4-1 pound of chicken and add to the skillet to start browning the chicken.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Finely chop 3-5 cloves of garlic and half a red onion and add it to the skillet.

Greek orzo chicken 2 2016

Once the onion softens add a cup of sliced sundried tomatoes and saute for a few minutes.  Then add a 14oz can of diced tomatoes with the juice and 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Toss in a small handful of fresh oregano.

Greek orzo chicken 4 2016

Add a cup of orzo.  All I could find was a wheat orzo and that worked well.

Greek orzo chicken 3 2016

Stir well and simmer covered.  Keep an eye on this as this can stick to the bottom of skillet.  Add more chicken stock as needed until the orzo is tender and cooked.  It takes about a 1/2 hour or so.

Greek orzo chicken 5 2016

Serve with parsley and shredded cheese.  I had a mixture of Italian cheeses on hand.  Of course there are good Greek cheeses to choose from.

This is definitely stick to your ribs dish, perfect for chilly winter nights.  This made a lot of food so we have leftovers to use throughout the week.

Cognac Mushroom Pork 1 2016

Seared Pork with Creamy Cognac Mushroom Sauce

It feels good to be able to sit up at a computer and actually blog.  Which seems a strange thing to say.  The cold going round here knocks you on your backside.  There was barely enough energy to work the remote.  Forget watching anything with a plot as keeping focused was not on the cards!  Which meant silly stuff like Real Housewives.  Please, nothing real about them!  My brain may never recover.

I did find Design on a Dime.  Which is very lightweight but has inspired several ideas for our porch that I want to try out when the weather gets a bit warmer.  I’m looking forward to creating a comfy area to hang out in.

It also felt good this weekend to get back into the kitchen and work on creating dishes.  I had some pork ribs and some root vegetables to use and I wanted to do something on the French side.  There were a ton of recipes using mushrooms and cream.  A combination that I love.

Cognac Mushroom Pork 1 2016

I prepped the roast veg of potato, parsnip, and carrot first and got those cooking.  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, season the pork with sea salt and pepper, then brown all four sides.

Cognac mushroom pork 2 2016

Remove from the skillet and cover with tin foil.  Finely chop a shallot (these can be potent and make you cry!) and add to the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes on medium heat.  You want the shallots to soften, not brown, then add 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic.

Cognac mushroom pork 3 2016

After another couple of minutes add a few mushrooms that have been sliced.  Then add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, some sea salt, and pepper.

Cognac mushroom pork 4 2016

Once the mushrooms start to brown add 1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken stock to the skillet and bring to a simmer.  Add about 4 tablespoons of cognac and a couple of tablespoons of stone ground mustard.

Cognac mushroom pork 5 2016

Put the pork back into the skillet and simmer until the pork is cooked and the sauce has reduced a bit.  Then add a 1/3-1/2 cup of cream.  Taste and add more cognac and mustard if needed.  Sometimes the cream can dampen the strong flavours.

Cognac mushroom pork 6 2016

Serve over the roasted veg and top with the sauce.  You might find you have plenty of sauce left over.  I used mine to make a creamy chicken soup for tonight’s dinner.  Too good to let it go to waste!

Chicken pastie 7 2016

Chicken Leek Flaky Pies

This is just crazy.  Every single year that I’ve been doing taxes I get sick or I fall just as the office opens.  I thought not this year!  The office opens tomorrow and I’m sick.  Seriously?  What kind of “rain” dance can I do to break this streak?  So I’m trying to be very good today so it goes away and I’ll be fine for tomorrow.

I love the flavour combination of chicken and leek and I wanted to do a variation on the chicken and leek pies with phyllo dough.  This time I wanted to use a short crust for the pie.

I made the pastry about an hour before making the dinner to allow it to chill in the fridge.  Cut in 3/4 cup of cold butter into 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.  When the mixture is crumbly and sticks together add a tablespoon of cold water at a time until the pastry comes together in a ball.  Cover with cling film and chill.

You need to make enough filling to fill the amount of pastry you have.  The above recipe is enough for 2 9″ pie shells.  Which was enough to make four pies.  The ratio of ingredients is equal amounts for everything but the garlic.  That was just 3-4 cloves.  Everything gets chopped up into small pieces.  You don’t want large chunks so everything cooks evenly.

Chicken pastie 1 2016

In a large skillet start rendering the streaky bacon on medium.  You don’t want the skillet too hot because you don’t want the bacon to catch.  After about 5 minutes add the garlic.  Then add the leeks and mushrooms.

Chicken pastie 2 2016

Normally you start the chicken at the beginning but for this the chicken needs to complete cooking in the oven.  You don’t want the chicken dry and tough.   After the leeks and mushrooms have cooked for a couple of minutes add about a third of a cup of dry white wine.  Add the chicken and a bit of fresh thyme.

Chicken pastie 4 2016

Roll out the pastry.  I rolled to a thickness of about a 1/4″/6mm.  I used a 6″ plate to cut round.

Chicken pastie 3 2016

Spoon the filling onto one half of the pastry.  I used a slotted spoon because I didn’t want the filling to be too wet.  Grate some jarlesberg over the filling.

Chicken pastie 5 2016

Brush a beaten egg round the edge of the pastry.  Fold the pastry in half and use a fork to crimp round the edge.  Slice the top with three slits.  Brush the pie with the beaten egg.

Chicken pastie 6 2016

Bake in the oven set at 425F/220C for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

Chicken pastie 7 2016

Serve immediately.  The kids loved it and it is a very easy dish to put together.  And a great way to use up some ingredients in the fridge.

 

Christmas crafts 2 2016

Yarn Crafts for Gifts

Now that the holidays have settled down and we’re not crazy busy I wanted to take a moment to share some gifts I made for the kids.  I had fun doing these projects and of course I was down to the wire.  Some day I hope to be much faster with yarn crafts but I’m not holding out much hope on that front!

I first started with my son’s project.  Like most kids his age, he is very into Minecraft.  Do you know some schools have classes on this game?  But it really does stretch the imagination.

Christmas crafts 1 2016

I found the pattern on Ravelry and I was really looking for a knitting pattern because it’s been about 10 years since I’ve crocheted and I forgot how to do it.  And I had never done anything in the round.  Thank goodness for YouTube!  I was able to relearn how to crochet and I enjoy it so I’ll be looking for more projects to try.  I also want to try my hand at granny squares.

Both kids are big fans Dr Who so I had to find something with that theme.  I found a great pattern for socks on Ravelry with the TARDIS.  I’ve never knitted socks.  Back to YouTube I go!

Christmas crafts 2 2016

I did it on the magic loop rather than double pointed needles.  The pattern was pretty good though I had to adjust how the toe was done so it decreased on the sides rather than on the top and bottom.  I was thrilled the lettering was legible.  After Christmas I found a used book that shows me how to knit two socks at a time so I’m looking forward to trying this again.

Though I’m trying to get the Aran jumper I’ve been working on for a few years for my husband.  That is taking forever!  So I need to finish that before I start anymore big projects.  Before we grow old.:)

Creme patissiere 18 2016

Sugar Crust with Crème Pâtissièrere

It’s back to reality after the holidays, kids back to school (they weren’t too thrilled!) and we’re back to work.  All the build up for the holidays and poof it’s gone in a blink of an eye.  We spend a lot of that “spring” cleaning.  It feels good to start the year off without clutter.  I’d like to know where it all comes from, seriously I think it multiplies.  I hate the clear outs but I love the results.  It motivates me to try new things and let the creativity flow.

For Christmas my husband and I try to be creative and feed our hobbies for gifts.  We don’t need stuff per se.  The Great British Bake Off has lit a bit of a fire under us to branch out in the baking arena and I knew we were going to bake through the break.  I found a fluted tart pan with the removable bottom for my husband.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the same gift from him!  Luckily we got two different sizes.  Great minds!

Have you ever wanted to bake something and you follow recipes and it comes out completely differently?  Boy did that happen to me.  I wanted to make tarte au citron that Mary Berry does.  I started everything and realised I didn’t have all the ingredients.  You’d think I was new at this.  So I thought well the set lemon tart is a set lemon tart so I used Julia Child.  I ended up with a strange lemon flavoured whipped meringue tart.  Tasted good but definitely not what I was going for.  So I need to get the ingredients for the tarte au citron and try it again!  But I did like the sugar crust so I made it again and decided to use Julia Child’s crème pâtissière.  I could eat bowls of that!

For the crust I used Mary Berry’s recipe for the crust.  It’s not difficult but it is very fiddly.  The sugar weakens the structure.  You also want to keep the butter cold through this process.

In a food processor add 6oz of flour, 3 1/2 oz of butter cubed, and 1oz of icing sugar.

Creme patissiere 2 2016

Pulse until well blended.  Add one egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water to the food processor.

Creme patissiere 4 2016

Pulse again to blend.  Now her recipe says it would come together in clumps.  So far it hasn’t done that for me but when you test it you want the mixture to stick together when pressed.

Creme patissiere 5 2016

Tip out onto to the counter and press the mixture together firmly until the pastry comes together in a ball.  The trick is to not overwork the crust and make it tough.

Creme patissiere 6 2016

Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Lightly grease the tart pan.  Now the directions state to lay out parchment paper and to place the bottom of the tart on the paper.  Draw a circle that is an inch and a half bigger than the tart bottom.  This is to give you a guide when rolling out the pastry.  I made this crust twice this week and tried it the first time and didn’t do it the second.  For me it didn’t make a difference but if it helps you go for it.  Flour the bottom and the paper and place the pastry in the centre.

Creme patissiere 7 2016

Flatten out the pastry out then roll.  This is where the swearing begins.  Did I mention it is fiddly?  Keep the rolling pin floured because it will stick!  This is the most frustrating part of the whole process.

Creme patissiere 8 2016

Carefully fold the pastry in on itself so the bottom shows.  Drop it into the tart frame.

Creme patissiere 9 2016

Carefully press the pastry into the flutes.  A trick that is mentioned is to use spare pastry to press in the pastry without poking holes into it.  That works somewhat.  You can also use a knuckle.  Just keep the nails away!  Allow a bit of overhang as the pastry will shrink when blind baking.

Creme patissiere 10 2016

Use a fork to dimple the base without poking completely through. Chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven at 400F/200C. When ready to bake line the pastry with tin foil and fill with dry beans.

Creme patissiere 11 2016

Bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove the tin foil and the beans.  Trim the excess pastry off the edge. Bake again until it is golden brown and cooked through.  Unfortunately I got sucked into Star Wars.  I was getting my geek on!  So I was just a few minutes late in getting back to the oven.  So it browned a little too much!

Set the pastry aside to cool.  On to the crème pâtissière!  This isn’t difficult but you need a bit of elbow grease with the whisk.  I added a bit more milk to Julia Child’s recipe because I didn’t want it to be overly thick but yet have it set.

Using a mixer gradually mix in a cup of granulated sugar into 5 egg yolks.  Keep beating until the mixture forms pale yellow ribbons.

Creme patissiere 13 2016

Gradually and slowly pour 2 1/4 cup of milk that has been brought to the boil.  You need to do this slowly because you don’t want to scramble the eggs with the hot milk.  Add the mixture into a large saucepan and put it over medium heat.  Keep whisking while it comes to a boil.  It will get thick before it gets smooth again.

Creme patissiere 15 2016

Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and whisk it for a couple of more minutes to cook the flour.  Remove from the heat.

Creme patissiere 16 2016

Add a tablespoon of butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

Creme patissiere 17 2016

Mix well and let it cool.  Once it is cool enough spoon it into the pastry crust.  Let it set in the fridge until it is time to serve.  Slice fruit of your choice.  We had some lovely strawberries to use up.  Dust with icing sugar.

Creme patissiere 18 2016

Not going to lie, this was delicious.  With dishes like this I won’t bother with resolutions to lose weight!  I mean, who am I kidding.  :)

 

Mushroom pasta 6 2015

Pasta with Mushroom Sauce and Saying Goodbye to 2015, Finally!

It’s been a long time since I was so looking forward to seeing the backside of a year.  I don’t like rushing time, especially as we get older.  It goes fast enough as it is.  But this year been a long stressful slog.  2016 has to be better!

I am so grateful that I have my husband and kids.  They have been an amazing support system for me.  Since the summer I’ve been struggling with my issues, whether it was physical injuries or the black dog, as Conor from One Man’s Meat so aptly called it, and I feel like I got in a rut.  It was an effort at times to get the day to day stuff done, nevermind finding creativity for blogging and other projects.  My husband never wavers and never complains.  He takes care of me and has the ability to make me laugh every day.  And kids being kids, they keep you on your toes.  They are a joy to have.  Not sure what I did to get so lucky to have them in my life but boy am I glad I did it.

But I am looking forward to 2016 and a fresh start in terms of putting this year behind me and not letting it be a millstone round my neck.  I have ideas I want to try and plan on keeping on improving with all the issues.  Onwards and upwards!

My sister got me a fabulous book on food photography for Christmas.  My family is so good about supporting my endeavors.  Last year my husband found me a photobox and a photography book which helped me dust off the cobwebs of my photography knowledge.  This book is the next step up from the previous book.  After a year of practicing I am excited to learn new techniques and continuing to improve.  I’m only into the fourth chapter and already I have a list in my head of things I need to set up.

Last night my sister and family were planning on coming so I planned Italian for dinner.  Unfortunately, the New England weather decided it was time for the first winter storm.  But I had found a recipe from the cookery book Giada at Home by Giada De Laurentiis.  So I stuck with the planned theme.

Mushroom pasta 1 2015

It is the Rigatoni with Creamy Mushroom Sauce.  This is my adaptation of it.  I didn’t stray too much from the original but I did make it my own.

In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Finely chop up half a red onion and begin saute the onion.  Finely chop up 3-4 cloves of garlic and add it to the skillet.

Mushroom pasta 2 2015

While this is cooking slice up a mixture of mushrooms.  I used baby bellas (cremini), shiitake, and oyster mushrooms.  You want about 2 cups sliced.  Add these to the skillet to start to brown.

Mushroom pasta 3 2015

Add 1/2-3/4 cup of vegetable bouillon and 1/2 a cup of dry white wine.  Bring to a simmer to reduce the liquid by at least a third.

Mushroom pasta 4 2015

During this time make sure you cook the pasta.  I chose brown rice spaghetti.  When the pasta is nearly done add a half cup (4 oz) of mascarpone.

Mushroom pasta 5 2015

When the mascarpone has blended in add 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan and a handful of chopped chives.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat.

Mushroom pasta 6 2015

Garnish with chopped chives and grated parmesan cheese.  My husband made fabulous ciabatta bread.  He used it to make garlic bread.  A serious weakness of mine!

This dish was a hit even with my son who doesn’t like mushrooms.  Fingers crossed his tastes are changing.  The rest of us love mushrooms.

Happy New Year’s everyone!

Beef vindaloo 6 2015

Beef Vindaloo to Welcome my Husband Home

You know, Christmas comes the same time every year.  Yet every year I find myself in full scramble to get it all done.  I swear I will start in September.  Unfortunately good intentions are not a guarantee!

I should finish the gifts I’m making today and get everything wrapped and under the tree.  Then there is the dump run and grocery shopping.  But I should have plenty of time tomorrow to decorate the Christmas cake.

My husband had to do a business trip last week.  Luckily it was only four days rather than the two weeks last December but I still wanted to make a nice home cooked dinner for him.

I was in the mood for curry and thought I’d try beef vindaloo.  Beef you say?  There are areas in West India that have Muslim and Christian communities that eat beef and add in the fabulous flavours you find in India, amazing dishes happen.

Vindaloo has it’s roots in Portugal and was originally based in wine and garlic but gradually evolved to have vinegar instead of wine.  When a lot of people hear vindaloo they think off the charts for spicy food but that isn’t always the case.  I didn’t make this crazy spicy but you can if you add more hot pepper.

Beef vindaloo 1 2015

I adapted a recipe from the Best-Ever Curry cookbook.  I used ground cumin instead of the seeds and I could have sworn we had fenugreek but nope so I had to leave that out.  The recipe did call for a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds.  To be honest I didn’t miss it.

In a spice grinder, grind up 3-4 chili peppers or hot peppers of your choice, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn, 5 green cardamon pods, and 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds.

In a small bowl add the spice mix, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of white vinegar.

Beef vindaloo 2 2015

Set that aside.  Chop up a large red onion and saute in olive oil until softened.

Beef vindaloo 3 2015

In a food processor add the onions and spice mix.  Process until it is a paste.  In the skillet add a bit more oil and start browning stewing beef.  I used just under a pound.  The recipe called for two pounds.  As it is browning, finely chop a couple of garlic and grate a piece of ginger about 1-2 inches square/3-4 cm square.

Beef vindaloo 4 2015

Cook for a couple of minutes then add the onion spice paste.  In addition to that add a scant tablespoon of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground tumeric.

Beef vindaloo 5 2015

Stir well then add 300ml/1 1/4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Cook for at least an hour.  You want the sauce reduced and the meat tender.  My husband made naan to dip into this curry.

Beef vindaloo 6 2015

I was a bit worried because there was only enough for about 1/2 a cup a serving for the four of us.  But with the naan we were stuffed.  I love that our kids love the spicy flavours, they really liked this.

Focaccia 10 2015

Focaccia Bread

We are totally hooked on the show The Great British Bake Off.   Completely sucked in.  Not only do you get great tips on baking, history of the baked goods, and great ideas, but it is such a refreshing competition.  Stateside, a lot of the food competitions are high pressure, overly dramatic, and people like Gordon Ramsey pound the table and scream a lot.  This one, every one is friendly.

Of course my husband and I are adding to our list of things we want to try to bake.  Yesterday I tried Paul Hollywood’s Focaccia Bread.  I find people’s approaches to known breads fascinating.  Paul’s approach seems more modern while Dan Leader’s approach is more old world.  Dan Leader’s recipe takes two days vs a few hours with Paul Hollywood’s recipe.

In a mixing bowl add 500 grams flour, two teaspoons salt, 12g yeast, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Now it’s been mentioned on the show that the salt shouldn’t touch the yeast.  Well at least until you mix it all together.  Most recipes don’t mention keeping them separate.  So I’m interested in researching this more.  However, the end result didn’t seem that different from other recipes.  It may be a preference more than anything else.

Focaccia 1 2015

Add 300ml of lukewarm water.

Focaccia 2 2015

Mix well then add, slowly, an additional 100ml of lukewarm water.  This is a very wet and sticky dough.  When this is fully incorporated knead by hand in the bowl for 5 minutes.

Focaccia 3 2015

I found this part hard given my height to the counter and it’s not easy for me to do that with my shoulder issues but do the best you can.  Then you have to stretch the dough and fold it over itself, for another five minutes, turning the bowl as you do this.  One good trick that was given on the show was to oil the surface you will knead on and oil your hands.  Doing this rather than using flour will keep the dough moist.  Turn out the dough onto the oiled surface.

Focaccia 4 2015

Knead for a further 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Focaccia 5 2015

Spray the bowl with oil and place the dough into the bowl.  Spray cling film with oil and cover the bowl.  Prove until the dough doubles in size.  This took about an hour or so.

Focaccia 6 2015

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Divide the dough and press the pieces into rectangles and dimple the surface.  Cover with oiled cling film.  Be careful not to have the cling film pin down the dough.  It needs room to rise.

Focaccia 7 2015

Prove for another hour.  Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7.  Once it is ready to bake drizzle the surface with olive oil.  I put a little to much on.  Sprinkle sea salt over it.

Focaccia 8 2015

We usually put in ice cubes in a hot cast iron skillet but we thought we’d try water.  As I had two loaves to bake I did ice with one and water with the other.  Because this only bakes for 20-25 minutes I didn’t notice a huge difference.  We did on my husband’s boule but that bakes for an hour and there was a difference there.  At any rate bake the focaccia until golden brown.

Focaccia 9 2015

Much, much different from the bread you get in restaurants.  Doing research online, I wonder what is actually made in the restaurants, because what I made matched the images rather than the other stuff.

Focaccia 10 2015

It was very crispy on the crust and soft in the middle.  Perfect for dipping in olive oil.  This does make a lot so thank goodness for the freezer!

Now to decide what to bake next!