Goat Cheese, Watermelon + Cucumber Salad ie: the best salad i’ve ever eaten

I never thought I’d say that.
Ever.
Ffffffff.
But honestly, I had two helpings.

I like to think of myself as a healthy person. I’m quite a balanced eater, I exercise, I drink water instead of soda.
But recently, I’ve been feeling a little meh.
It’s probably all the meals I’ve eaten outside and well, a little too much dessert.
I’ve realised that my fruit + veg consumption has basically dropped to ZERO.
I’ve eaten absolutely NOTHING (naturally) green and the only fruit in my house was this decaying apple, now home to 17272827 fruit flies.

Which is why, I decided to set a goal this month. I’ve always been terrible with resolutions, these one year plans just don’t sit well with me. So, I’ve set a “month goal.”
This month, I’m loading up on fresh produce. Green smoothies, salads and fresh juices…Mmm, yes.

ANYWHO.
Back to this salad.
Oh my gawwww. Loaded with salty (super fresh!) goat’s cheese, maple-candied nuts, juicy watermelon balls and lettuce, I COULDN’T STOP EATING THIS.

Oh, a quick note on the cheese.
My parents just got back from a trip to Spain and they returned with LOTS OF FOOD. All for me, obviously.
The star? This hunka fresh cheese. Mmyum. I’m a major Goats cheese lover, so, I went absolutely crazy the minute my mum pulled the beauty of the bag.
IT’S JUST SO SO GOOD.

The nuts I’ve used, are a mixture of sunflower seeds, almonds and sesame seeds all candied in Maple syrup. But mostly, just sunflower seeds.
Also a product of Spain.
And so so addictive.
Someone come eat these with me.
Bye.

Goat Cheese, Watermelon + Cucumber Salad with Maple Candied Sunflower Seeds

Serves 2

1/2 head Romaine lettuce, cut up
1/4 cup salty goat cheese
(use more. Do it!)
A handful maple-candied nuts (use other nuts, omit or even make your own. Heat up a little maple syrup/honey and a touch of granulated sugar and toss the nuts in it at a low temperature. Watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn)
1 cucumber, diced
5 big green olives
5 watermelon “balls” (you can use cubes. Cut up a watermelon and uses pieces)

Dressing
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp each maple syrup and olive oil

To make the dressing:
Put everything in a bowl and whisk

To make the salad:
Combine the leaves, olives and cucumber in a bowl.
Add the dressing and toss to combine.
Too with watermelon, the nuts and sprinkle on hunks of cheese.

FEED YOUR FACE.
unf.

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Arugula, Garlic Chicken and Goat Cheese salad with Balsamic Dressing

Salads are not cookies

But still, pretty darn delicious.

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Not all salads are tasty though.

And not all salads aren’t cookies.

Erm, what? Of course, salads aren’t cookies. They aren’t supposed to be. The day we start putting leaves and chocolate chips together is the day I give up on humanity.

That being said, what I meant by that is that some salads are SO UNHEALTHY that they’re no better than eating cookies (which is never a bad thing, but, you know, HEALTH). The amount of cream and fat they put in those bottled dressing is horrifying.

Oh and, those “diet dressings”? Notice how diet has the word die in it? Honestly, with the amount of chemicals in those creamy, destructive bottles you might just get a heart attack.

 

BUT

Do not lose faith! It is possible to make healthy eating delicious at home! Honestly, if done right, salads aren’t all that terrible.

They can actually be really, really tasty. So here’s my favorite salad recipe!

Enjoy!

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Arugula, Garlic Chicken and Goat Cheese salad with Balsamic Dressing:

 

For the dressing;

1/4 th cup balsamic vinegar (4 tbsp)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey/pure maple syrup (more if you like it a little sweet. Taste!)

Pinch salt

 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a fork to combine.

Set aside.

 

For the chicken:

 

1 cup chicken breast, sliced

1-2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Whack the chicken to flatten it. It cooks faster this way.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over moderate heat and add the olive oil. Toss in the garlic till brown and slightly crisp. Now add the chicken and the seasonings. Cook till it’s no longer pink.

Let it cool before adding it to the salad.

 

 

For the salad:

4-5 cups of arugula/rocket

¼ – 1/3th cup goat cheese/chevre crumpled (Feta also works nicely)

½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes

½ sliced red and yellow bell pepper each

2-3 tbsp’s or more of sliced olives (green/black/both)

Garlic chicken

Dressing

 

Toss everything (apart from the cheese) in a large bowl. Add the dressing, toss again. Add the cheese and serve.

 

 

 

The Bricks Of Parker House

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From amount of bread posts on here, I think it’s fairly clear that I have a thing for bread.

Not only bread though, all carbohydrates.

Yes. Delicious.

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The thing that is not very known though is that I had a very very deep rooted fear of baking bread.

It all first started when I found out about how the bread in stores is actually frightfully unhealthy and that “brown bread” is actually regular white sandwhich bread with “caramel colour.”

It’s healthy they said.

Har har har.

 

So, the first time I baked bread was this rainy, cold afternoon when the craving to eat warm, soft delicious bread was all I could think of and I happened to find a very promising recipe that told me that I could bake “fresh warm rolls that even a beginner (me) couldn’t mess up and that I could have real, healthy bread in two hours!”

Obviously, I was sold.

What followed was me, hungry and sleep-deprived( because for some reason I cant sleep in when it rains, no it’s not relaxing, Mother Nature, thanks for deciding to throw ROCKS on my roof when I’m trying to sleep :/ ) , grabbing the ingredients  and some extremely expired yeast and baking “Parker House Rolls”.

They didn’t turn out, obviously.

The first sign should have been the fact that the bread refused to rise, but well, I was hungry and bread-wanty.

The rolls turned out to be The Bricks Of Parker House over Parker House Rolls, which was a fail.(clearly)

But they made very good hockey pucks.

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Anyway,

I’ve come a long way since my brick…erm….roll baking days and have learned to check the date on the yeast packets.

I’ve come to love bread baking and love trying out different kinds of bread. Right now, I’m obsessed with working with the sourdough starter!

So tangy! So delicious!

 

Truth be told, this isn’t the fastest bread you’ll ever make.

You’ll have to wait a week for the starter to turn tangy but trust me! It’s worth the wait.

Ooh ooh! You know what else is worth the wait? TOASTING THE SOURDOUGH AND MAKING CROUTONS FOR TOMATO SOUP AND THEN USING THE SAME BREAD FOR GRILLED CHEESE. YES.

 

So anyway, here it is:

Crusty, delicious sourdough.

 

Based on Five and Spice blog’s Perfect Crusty Loaf

 

  • 200 g      (1  cup) recently fed sourdough      starter ( I like using a starter that’s been fed and atleast a week old)
  • 400 g (3      cups) flour
  • 11 g (1.5      tsp) salt
  • 300 g (1      1/3 cup warm  water( not too hot and      too  cold, it should be comfortable,      like bath water)
  • extra      flour for dusting
  1. In a      mixing bowl, stir together all your ingredients till combined. It should      be pretty sticky and wet. On a well floured surface ( not too much, a      lightly floured surface should do. You don’t want to incorporate more      flour into the bread)

Then, knead softly and roll out into a rough rectangle. Now fold in the left side and then the right, like you would fold a letter: Right to left then quarter turn and right to left again. Shape into a rough ball GENTLY and place in a well greased bowl till about doubled in size. Make sure that your bread rests in warm, draft free corner.

  1.  Set a timer for one hour.  After an      hour, wet your hands well to keep them from sticking, gently take the      dough out of the bowl and carefully stretch it and shape it like you did      before( the letter folds) .  Set the timer for another hour, and      after that repeat the stretch and fold.  The dough should get easier      and less sticky to work worth.  Set your timer for one more hour.       Repeat the stretch and fold process and then form into a roughly      shaped ball and place in a greased
  2. Take      another mixing bowl bigger than the the size of the bread dough, and      grease it. Place the dowl in it and over it with cling film and place in      the refrigerator
  3. The next      day (or two), an hour before you are ready to bake the bread, take the      dough out of the refrigerator.  Let it sit  at room temperature for an hour, at this      point it should looked puffed, and if you poke it, it should leave a      little indent, ifit doesn’t , let it rise for another 30-60 minutes or      more. Mine bread always takes a good hour. Now ,while the dough stands at      room temp. ,preheat your oven toits highest setting. Place a dutch oven or      a ceramic pot with a fitted lid inside, basically anything that’ll allow      steam to be generated will do. Put a good layer of cornmeal or flour      cutting board, and gently turn the bread dough out onto it. Use a very      sharp knife to make as deep X on top of the bread. Note that if you don’t      have a dutch oven you can bake it like regular bread, but in the last five      minutes of baking toss in a cup full of ice cubes and shut the door.      This’ll give it a nice crust too.
  4. once the      oven is heated,, take the Dutch oven out and put your bread it, ensuring      the cornmeal side’s down.  Cover the Dutch oven, and put it back in      the oven.  Bake the bread in the pot with the lit for about 25      minutes then take the top off and bake another 10 minutes or until it’s      golden brown and looks crusty too. Then remove from the oven, and turn the      bread out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely. It’s really      important for it too cool completely because you don’t want to interfere      with the baking process. Enjoy!

 

Soft Sourdough Dinner Rolls

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Hey!
It’s been a hectic last week ,( we just finished writing papers) and I’ve been soaking up all the free time, just not doing anything.

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I made these rolls the other night, using up the last of my sourdough starter. These are not exactly sourdough rolls, but they do have that nice twang.
I’ve made these twice now and I have noticed that using an older, fed starter is tastier. So try that if you can.
The wait is worth it. I promise!

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SOURDOUGH DINNER ROLLS
Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe

3/4 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast/ 15 g fresh yeast (crumbled)
I tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water( gently warmed, not hot at all. Regular water will also do)

For the top:
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
Optional: poppy seeds, mustard seeds,sesame seeds

Combine the all the ingredients in a bowl and combine till a soft, smooth dough forms. I needed to knead it for about 7 minutes.

Let it rest, covered, in a greased bowl, for about 2 hours or till almost doubled in size.

After 2 hours, knead the dough on a well floured surface ( this is essential or else your dough will stick) and shape it into rolls. Add more flour to the dough if it’s too sticky.Leave the rolls on a greased baking sheet, covered, for about 20 minutes or till they have risen a bit.

Preheat the oven to it’s highest setting.
Do to optional egg wash and sprinkle the seeds over. Bake at the highest temperature for about 10 minutes or till the colour is a light golden . Then, turn the temperature down to 150 C and bake another 5-10 minutes or till golden.
Serve warm!

Yotam Ottelenghi’s falafel with flatbread and Yogurt-Molasses_Tahini Dressing

Today is a triple recipe kind of day! And honestly, what’s not to love?
All three recipes are from either Plenty or Jerusalem, both cookbooks by Yotam Ottelenggi and Sami Tamimi that I am smitten with. Not only is the food great, it’s the kind of cookbook that I like sitting in bed reading. Just reading. The recipes come with stories and

while Plenty is a vegetarian cookbook, Jerusalem features food for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Today’s recipes however are vegetarian.
I’ll be the first to admit it.

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One bad falafel experience and you’re scarred for life. I ate a really really bad falafel a few years back and I hated it. It was gummy and excessively oily and just plain terrible. Needless to say, I didn’t eat a falafel again for the next few years.
That changed yesterday. I was flipping through the cookbooks( although the only flipping I should be doing is with textbooks :/) and I saw the recipe for falafels. Then, something hit. I felt like making falafel. So I got up and reached downstairs and soaked a cup if chickpeas. It was 11:30 at night.
The next day, I made falafels.
The verdict? Yotam Ottenlenghi, you nailed this. Perfect,perfect, perfect.
I paired it with a yogurt-tahini sauce out of Jerusalem and whole wheat yogurt flatbreads from Plenty. No one missed the meat.
We’ll be seeing a lot more Ottelenghi on this blog for sure!

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FALAFEL WITH WHOLE WHEAT YOGURT FLATBREAD WITH YOGURT-TAHINI SAUCE

FOR THE FALAFEL:
1 1/4 cups / 250 g dried chickpeas
½ medium onion, finely chopped (½ cup / 80 g in total)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp water
1½ tbsp all-purpose flour
about 3 cups / 750 ml sunflower oil, for deep-frying
1/2 tsp sesame seeds, for coating
salt
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight. I boiled them but there’s not need to. Infact, avoid boiling them all together as that’s what the book suggests.
The next day, drain the chickpeas well and combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Now in a food processor, pulse together the chickpeas and the herbs till broken down but not mushy or pasty, and holds itself together in a ball. Next, add the spices, baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt, flour, and water. Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform. Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight for making it the next day.
Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with oil( I used regular vegetable oil).
With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty and form a walnut shaped ball.
Sprinkle the balls evenly with sesame seeds and deep-fry them in batches for 4 minutes, until well browned and cooked all the way to the inside, so make sure they get enough time in the oil. Drain and serve with the flatbread and sauce.

FOR THE FLATBREAD:
1 cup + 2 tsp whole wheat flour
3/4 cup yogurt (plain)
1/2 tsp salt
A bunch chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp or so of water if needed
4 tbsp olive oil for cooking the flatbread

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the yogurt and whisk till a smooth dough forms. Chill for an hour or till ready to use.
Break the dough into 6 parts. On a well floured surface, roll out 6 long pieces of dough. They should be thin enough that you can see through them a bit. Over medium heat, place a grill pan to warm up. Drizzle over olive oil and cook the flatbreads till well charred on both sides . Don’t flip them more than once.
Serve hot.

FOR THE SAUCE:
“¾ cup / 180 g light tahini paste ( I used regular tahini, 1/2 cup instead of 3/4)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup / 15 g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup / 15 g chopped mint, plus extra to finish
⅔ cup / 150 g Greek yogurt
¼ cup / 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus grated zest of 1 lemon ( I left this out)
1 tsp pomegranate molasses, ( I used blackstrap)

Whisk together all the ingredients to make the sauce.

To serve:
Top the warm flatbreads with falafel, drives tomatoes and cucumbers and drizzle on the sauce. Garnish with mint leaves. Eat!

Roasted Tomato + Dried Fig galette

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I’ve come to realise that even though I probably talk a lot on this blog,(type a lot?), I’m kind of extroverted in real life. I mean , if I know you and we’re already friends, ill probably talk A LOT and make you laugh really hard. But if I’m at a party and you’re a stranger? FAT CHANCE getting me to talk.

Eventually, I’ve realised that food is an excellent conversation starter. When it’s food that we’re discussing or it’s some ingredient that we’re taking about, all that shyness? It’s just jumps out the window.

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Anyway, this galette. The dough makes around 3 pretty decent sized galettes, so if you’re only making one like I am, you’ll probably have some dough left over.

The flavours in this, however, are the best kind there are. Simple, fresh , tasty.
I’m someone who loves loud, bold flavours. More, more, more.
But honestly, this my favourite kind of food. There’s not too much going on, and you can actually taste the ingredients, the way their meant to be eaten.
Simple, fresh,tasty.

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Enjoy!

Roasted tomato + fig galette

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/2 cup full fat strained yogurt/ Greek yogurt
2 sticks/1 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes

Whisk together the salt and flour.
Now work in the butter until the mixture looks like wet sand. You want the butter to be in really tiny tiny pieces. Now add in the rest of the ingredients and stir till it forms a sticky dough.
Dump it on a floured counter and knead till a smooth dough forms, adding a little more flour if necessary.
Wrap up the dough with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

For the tomatoes:

3-4 large tomatoes sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a tray with parchment paper and arrange the tomatoes on it. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper. Bake for 40 mins or till slightly blackened.
Let them cool before you try to lift them.

FIlling:
1/2 cup shredded cheese.( I used Italian blend which we really liked. You can use whatever you like. If you’re unsure, go with mozerella)
2 tbsp sliced dried figs
A handful freshly turned basil leaves + plus more for the top.
A drizzle of olive oil

Assemble the galette:
Get the dough from the fridge. Grab around 1/4 th of the dough and on a well floured surface, roll it out. Form a circle. Make sure that the edges are rolled thinner than the centre.

Transfer it to a tray lined with parchment paper. Fill the galette with the roasted tomatoes ( I needed only 2), you can use more or less) and toss in the figs. Add the basil leaves. Now press the edges in and press then down with the back of a fork.
Top with cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes or till golden brown.
Serve with the extra basil leaves strewn across the top.

Bread #3! Ciabatta

Happy Monday!
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I hope you had a nice weekend filled with good food! I know we did! I baked a loootttttt of bread! Annnnddd all the attempts were super successful! Yay!
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So here’s the thing: if you prep this bread now, you can eat it tomorrow. I KNOW, I KNOW.
But patience! I think warm,crusty bread with a wonderful, chewy interior is worth it.Oh,and flavourful!So flavorful!This is so weird! Can bread be flavourful? I dunno but MAYBE.This one was. SO GOOD!

Get ON this!
From Girl VS Dough (<—–love)

Yields: 1 loaf

Ingredients:

For the biga (dough starter) –

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast (OR 1/12 teaspoon active dry yeast)
1/4 cup room temperature water

For the dough –

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (or one domed 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
Biga (from above)

Directions:

Make the biga: In a small bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together the ingredients until a smooth, cohesive dough forms, about 3 minutes. Cover tightly with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until tripled in size and bubbly, about 6-8 hours (you can leave it sitting out for up to 12 hours). Stir it down, then cover it and place it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

AFTER STIRRING DOWN: IMG_1508
Remove the biga from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you mix together the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour and yeast. Whisk in the salt. Add water and biga. Using paddle attachment, mix everything together on low speed (#2 on the stand mixer) just until the flour is moistened; then, increase speed to medium-high (#6 on the stand mixer) and beat 3 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Decrease speed to medium (#4 on the stand mixer) and beat another 2 minutes. The dough should be fairly wet but hold together in one long strand when you pull it with the paddle attachment).

Using an oiled spatula, transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until tripled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
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When dough is risen, generously sprinkle a countertop with flour. Using an oiled spatula, transfer the dough to the floured surface; sprinkle top with flour. Use your palms to pat the sides of the dough inward to push it together slightly. Using four of your fingertips, make deep dimples in the top of the dough about 1 inch apart. Push the sides together again slightly.

Carefully transfer and invert the dough onto a parchment paper or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Use your palms again to shape the dough so that it is approximately 4 1/2 inches wide, 10 to 11 inches long and 1 inch tall. Sprinkle top with more flour, then cover lightly with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until about 1 1/2 inches tall, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before baking, prep oven: Place an oven rack on the lowest level and another one just above it. Place a cast-iron skillet on the lower rack and a baking sheet on the upper rack. Heat oven to 475 degrees F.

When dough is risen, remove plastic wrap or tea towel and gently place the baking sheet on top of the sheet in the oven. Pour 1/2 cup ice cubes into the cast-iron skillet and close the door quickly. Bake loaf at 475 degrees F for 5 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake another 20 minutes, or until loaf is a deep golden brown. When loaf is done, turn off oven and prop door open slightly, leaving the loaf in the oven for 5 more minutes.

Remove the loaf from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.

Note: The whole recipe minus the step by step pics, are hers. I didn’t want to put my own insturctions because she’s explained it really nicely and did a better job at explaining then I would do.Oh, and the bread is NO FAIL!

Enjoy!