28 April 2012

Foccacia Bread

We had friends over for a barbeque last week and to complement the grilled meats and salads I'd put together, I made fresh foccacia bread. Served warm straight from the oven, it was a fabulous complement, delicately fragrant, and deliciously tasty. I can and have eaten a half loaf of this bread standing in the kitchen having just pulled it out of the oven.

You can top a foccacia bread with whatever toppings you fancy - olive oil, is of course, compulsary. I'm a big fan of coarse sea salt and fresh rosemary, and if I'm organised, I roast a garlic bulb in the oven while the bread is cooking and then squeeze the garlic all over the freshly baked hot bread - yummmmm!

Foccacia Bread

  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (plus extra if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • Topping
  •  1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  •  1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • olive oil to drizzle (about 2 tablespoons)

  • Method

    1. Mix the warm water and sugar together, sprinkle yeast on top and stir briefly. Set aside for 5 minutes until yeast is activated and starting to froth.
    2. In a bowl, mix together flour and salt, add olive oil and yeast mixture and stir together. Turn onto a floured bench and pull together and start to knead. Add more flour if the mixture is too sticky. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (I'm going to be honest, I pop mine into my mixer with a dough hook and let it do the kneading for 10 minutes)
    3. Pop the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave for 1 hour in a warm place to rise.
    4. Punch the dough down, roll into a oblong, pop onto a baking tray and stretch to fit the tray, poke holes in the dough and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle sea salt and rosemary over the top and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
    5. Bake at 200 degrees celcius (400 degrees fahrenheit) for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Serve warm if possible.

    21 April 2012

    Thai Prawn & Pomelo Salad

    I love Pomelo, a big fat green citrus fruit with pink flesh. It is close to a grapefruit in taste, but is sweeter and drier in texture, and it is amazing in salads as it soaks up the flavours of the sauces and herbs really well.

    Hubby though is not a fan, so I don't get to make this salad often. I had a more adventurous friend coming over for lunch so I took the opportunity to make it.

    In Thailand this salad is called Yam Som-O. I have played around with the ingredients so much over the years that I'm sure this varies from the traditional salad, but it still tastes great.

    The combination of fresh herbs, sweet sugar and coconut, sour lime and tamarind, the spicy red chillies and the chewy texture of the prawns and pomelo create a stunning dish both in flavour and looks.

    I like to serve this salad warm, but it is equally nice served at room temperature - everything can be prepared in advance and combined at the last minute before serving, just take the prawns out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving to come to room temperature.

    You can also make this salad with crabmeat if you don't fancy prawns.

    Prawn and Pomelo Salad
    (serves 4 as an appetiser)
    • 300 grams prawns, peeled and deveined
    • 20 grams dried shrimp, crushed (optional)
    • 1 medium pomelo, pith removed and shredded
    • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
    • 1 or 2 red chillies, de-seeded and sliced
    • 2 shallots, sliced (or 2 spring onions, sliced)
    • 2 tablespoons dessicated coconut, toasted in a dry pan to golden brown
    • 100 mls tamarind concentrate
    • 40 grams palm sugar (or brown sugar if you don't have palm sugar)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 30 mls lime juice (juice of 2 or 3 limes)

    1. Soak the shallot slices in water for 5 minutes (this removes the pungent onion taste), drain well.
    2. Put the dressing ingredients into a pot, and bring to the boil, stir until sugar has dissolved and then simmer gently for 3 minutes to thicken. Set aside to cool.
    3. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the prawns, poach for a minute or two until they are opaque and pink. Leave to cool if you want to serve your salad cold.
    4. Combine prawns, dried shrimp, pomelo, shallots and coconut
    5. Add dressing to taste, it will not need all of the dressing. Serve on individual plates and sprinkle with coriander and chillies.

    20 April 2012

    Hot Cross Buns

    I know, I know, it's a bit late for an Easter recipe, but it was the first time I'd ever made these gems, they tasted fabulous, and look so scrumptious, that I just couldn't resist sharing the recipe.

    I woke up one morning and quite fancied a hot cross bun (as you do around Easter time). Unfortunately the only two places in Doha I'd found that made them, made a very poor rendition - too bready, not enough fruit or spices, and the deal-breaker...no rich sticky sweet glaze.

    So I googled and found a fabulous recipe on taste.com.au and gave them a whirl. I didn't have mixed spice, so I made my own - mix together 1 teaspoon ground allspice, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a pinch of ground black pepper.

    I've just made a batch of the dough and it's happily rising on the bench, I'll just leave off the cross and have them as plain fruit buns instead.

    Hot Cross Buns

  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 185ml (3/4 cup) warm milk
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) cold milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 525g (3 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 200g mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas, currants and some mixed peel) 
  • 70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • A pinch of salt
  • Flour paste - 1/2 cup plain flour + 75mls water
  • Glaze - 1/3 cup water + 2 tablespoons caster sugar 

  • Method
    1. Whisk yeast, sugar and the 3/4 cup of warm milk in a jug. Set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy. Whisk in the 1/2 cup of cold milk, butter and egg. Combine flour, dried fruit, sugar, mixed spice and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture. Stir to combine, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Or like me, let the mixer and dough hook do the work.
    2. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for an hour or two in a warm place until doubled in size.
    3. Punch down the centre of the dough with your fist. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes. Shape into 12 even portions. Brush a baking tray with melted butter. Place portions side by side in the prepared pan.
    4. Cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside for 30 minutes, buns will have risen and almost joined together.
    5. Preheat oven to 190°C. Combine flour and water to make a paste. Place in a sealable plastic bag. Cut 1 corner from the bag to make a 2mm hole. Pipe crosses onto the buns.
    6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.
    7. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer gently until the glaze thickens (about 5 minutes).
    8. Transfer buns to a wire rack and brush tops with hot glaze.
    9. Serve warm, smothered in butter.
    After first rising

    After second rising

    After baking and glazing