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.

Bulgarian Sunshine Rolls

20131017-145235.jpg

20131017-145253.jpg

20131017-145244.jpg

Bread.Bread.Bread.
Breakfast bread.
Lunch bread.
Dinner bread.
Snack bread.
I have no idea what I’m doing BUT I have bread. Bread makes everything better. Except for the fact that I have exams for the next WHOLE week and then two weeks of vacayyyy!
Finally.
Until then, expect erratic, spontaneous posts or none at all.
But after another week, we’ll have posts everyday! Yesssss.
Until then, make this fluffy, fancy-looking and crazy tasty bread. Again and again.

Note:
1) I called these Hungarian rolls on Instagram. Which they are not. I’m sorry!

BULGARIAN SUNSHINE ROLLS
INGREDIENTS:

330 all purpose/bread flour
150 ml warm milk
1 large egg( get a really big egg for this one. If needed, use half of another egg)
1 tbsp white vinegar/lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1,5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
15g fresh yeast

For the top:
60 g butter, melted
1 egg yolk
A handful of sesame and poppy seeds for sprinkling

Crumble the yeast in a small bowl,add 1/2 tbsp sugar and half the milk and 1 tbsp flour and mix again.Cover with damp towel and leave for around 10-15 minutes until it gets foamy.If it doesn’t foam, discard and start again.

2.Beat the egg in a large bowl, add the rest of the milk,salt and oil to it. Slowly add in the flour and stir gently. Now add the vinegar and yeast mixture.Mix it all with a spoon and once lightly combined, start kneading with your hands.Knead until smooth and elastic adding more flour if it’s still to sticky.(about 7 minutes)Cover with a cloth and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm, draft free area till the dough has doubled.

Now, knead your dough for a bit and split it into two halves. Break each half into 4 pieces. Knead each piece for a couple of minutes. Now, roll each ball into thin, flat ‘pancake’. Make sure it rolled really thin, almost see through.

Place the first ‘pancake’ on a well floured surface and spread with the butter. Repeat with the other ‘pancakes’. Do the same thing with the other half. Roll each half into a roll and slice out triangles. Place in a greased pan in the shape of the sun ( you want the pieces shaping outwards ) and place the scraps on top. Cover with a damp towel/cling film and let it rise in a warm spot for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven 200 C. Egg-wash the bread beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.Bake for 35 minutes(cover with foil for the last 15 minutes or if the top starts to get too brown).

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.

20131012-210424.jpg

20131012-210355.jpg

20131012-210350.jpg

20131012-210346.jpg
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!

20131012-210341.jpg

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!

Easy Soda Bread + Green Olive and Pistachio Tapenade

(Have an interesting link? A blog that I should read? Want to share something tasty that you made? Let me know below so that I can check it! I’d love to hear your thoughts!)
20130929-164613.jpg

The title should also say with grilled corn but I’ll let it go. It’s long enough already.

20130929-164556.jpg
So, I made dinner yesterday because I felt like getting in the kitchen and making something complex and tasty.
But if that scared you then I promise, THIS really isn’t complex. The complex part was where I sat at the kitchen table reading Gourmet, hoping to find inspiration.

And I did. I adapted their recipe for Irish Soda Bread, which I’ve made before bad loved. However, this time, I left out the caraway seeds and raisins and used a little cornmeal in place of 100% white flour. The result was an ibcredible, slightly sweet bread that paired perfectly with a salty, briny tapenade.

A word about the tapenade, though. I have used nuts in it but they are NOT necessary. The pistachio taste was very subtle. Honestly, it was very tasty but would have been tastier with almonds. If you can’t have nuts, leave ’em out. It’ll be just as good.

20130929-164607.jpg

SWEET SODA-BREAD:
( 2 small loaves)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano ( not necessary but adds a slight herby taste to the bread)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp melted butter for brushing the breads.

Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk and knead on a lightly floured surface till a smooth dough forms. Form two rounds and place on a greased baking sheet. Using a very sharp knife, make a deep cross in the center of the breads. Brush them generously with butter and bake for 20 minutes or till golden brown.

Green Olive Tapenade:

1 cup green olives
1/2 tbsp capers
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp raw pistachios or toasted almonds.
1/4 cup olive oil

Pulse the first 4 ingredients together. Pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, pulsing as you pour.

TO ASSEMBLE:
Toast slices of bread. Spread with tapenade and sprinkle with grilled corn.

Roasted Tomato + Dried Fig galette

20130831-091212.jpg
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.

20130831-091150.jpg
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.

20130831-091202.jpg

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!
IMG_1515

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!
IMG_1512
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.
POST FIRST RISE:IMG_1510
IMG_1509
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!

Bread #2: Baguettes at Home!

IMG_1501kjjh
Yay!I’m so happy that you guys are as excited about bread-week as I am!
So, I was planning on posting Ciabatta today (which I had success with!) but it’s a pretty long process and I thought doing baguettes first would make sense!

PicMonkey Collage
The recipe is from here and the instructions are super clear and really easy to follow!But I feel like I should give my own instructions so that I can guide you with the changes that I made instead of just randomly linking the recipe and then adding my variations.
I didn’t have bread flour nor do I have a bread machine and i’m guessing that a lot of you don’t either.
So don’t worry because I hand-kneaded the dough and used ap flour and the baguettes turned out GREAT! Very restaurant restraunt quality!
So, without further ado, here we go:
FAST FRENCH BAGUETTES:
1 cup water

3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast(I used this) or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

In a large bowl , whisk yeast into 1 cup water and let sit 5 minutes.DONT TOUCH IT. you can give it a stir but that’s it.Add 3 cups flour and salt and mix, using paddle attachment in the bowl of an electric mixer, until just combined.Now you can either switch to the dough hook or knead by hand. Knead on medium speed for about 5 minutes (10 minutes if kneading by hand), until the dough is smooth and elastic.Shape it into a ball and palce in a lighly greased bowl , covered with cling film , in a warm place till dough has doubled in size.
Punch down risen dough gently and split into two. Roll each piece into a foot-long rope and place side by side, about 3-4 inches apart, on a lightly greased + floured baking sheet or a tray lined with lightly floured parchment paper. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Once oven is preheated and dough has risen slightly (about 30 minutes), remove plastic wrap and using a very sharp knife make diagonal cutson the baguettes(not too deep! just barely). Place baguettes in oven, reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cold water and allow to cool on cooling rack completely before slicing.

Yay! Now slice and enjoy with butter + jam!

Tommorow, we’ll take the ciabatta! and then….some whole-wheat goodies are coming our way!
Enjoy and let me know what you think!