Category Archives: breads

The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Two: The Wake and Bake

I am a gloriously productive person every time I return to the States. Blessed with a five-hour time difference from London, I arise at the I-do-lots-of-useful-and-important-things hour of 7am (a time of day I am generally unacquainted with, especially on vacation) and…I do lots of useful and important things.  Like bake lots of focaccia.

Okay, so obviously this is a relative usage of the words ‘useful’ and important’.’  But I do consider baking to be a valuable activity, particularly so over the holidays when the day’s activities consist primarily of getting together with family and eating, meeting up with friends and eating, catching up with old family friends and eating…you get the picture.  In such a gastronomically focused time, baking and other food production techniques grow to paramount importance.

Thus, I present to you the newest addition to my useful brunch party repertoire: The Wake and Bake Eggs. Simple, cheap, non-labor intensive, adaptable, and basically idiotproof.

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The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Two: The Wake and Bake

I am a gloriously productive person every time I return to the States. Blessed with a five-hour time difference from London, I arise at the I-do-lots-of-useful-and-important-things hour of 7am (a time of day I am generally unacquainted with, especially on vacation) and…I do lots of useful and important things.  Like bake lots of focaccia.

Okay, so obviously this is a relative usage of the words ‘useful’ and important’.’  But I do consider baking to be a valuable activity, particularly so over the holidays when the day’s activities consist primarily of getting together with family and eating, meeting up with friends and eating, catching up with old family friends and eating…you get the picture.  In such a gastronomically focused time, baking and other food production techniques grow to paramount importance.

Thus, I present to you the newest addition to my useful brunch party repertoire: The Wake and Bake Eggs. Simple, cheap, non-labor intensive, adaptable, and basically idiotproof.

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Sugar and Spice is Nice at the Rambling Restaurant

Bright colors are nice too.

At the last Rambling Restaurant of 2009, we served a trio of richly colored dips – chickpea hummous, beetroot hummous, and carrot cumin dip. So pretty in pink.

For maximum dippability, we prepared straight-out-of-a-hot-oven-and-onto-the-grill flatbreads. Take Moro flatbread recipe (recipe below), multiply by 15 (eek!) and you have a lot of steaming hot fresh bread  in your future. Also a lot of rolling pin action. Stop whining, it’s good for the arm muscles.

I know making your own bread for a meal sounds thoroughly unrealistic, but this pita-like bread only needs about 20 minutes to sit. This means you can take about five minutes to make the dough, let it sit while you chop vegetables or prepare something else, and have WOW-YOU’RE-AMAZING homemade bread to accompany your meal. Even if it’s only yourself you’re impressing, it’s totally worth it. Especially when you fold it over and stuff it with sauteed spinach and halloumi cheese and roasted eggplant and other such delights.

We followed up the onslaught of foldable starch and pretty bowls of mush with a Turmeric Lime Chili Chicken over a Roasted Eggplant, Pomegranate Seed, Scallion, Parsley, Mint, Tomato Fattoush with a dollop of Cumin Yogurt Sauce. It’s a lot of ingredients that somehow all work in symbiotic grace to produce a happy mouthful of amazing.

But a discussion of odd-sounding ingredients that don’t really seem like they’d work together but actually will blow your mind would not be complete without Chef foodrambler‘s dessert: Orange Blossom Almond Polenta Cake with Coriander Syrup.  You might not think you like coriander, but I DARE you not to like this cake. I like this cake so much I am actually going to make it right now for a Christmas Eve Day Brunch.  I also like you enough to show you this pretty picture which does no justice to the rich, moist, exotically sweet and just a touch of spicy cake perfection.

Garnish with a twist of orange, a sprig of cilantro, and a spoonful of honeyed syrup with dots of coriander seeds.  Staring at this picture makes me very happy that this cake is only several hours in my future.  For those of you gluten-free people out there (sis Irene Bean is testing out a potential gluten allergy),  this cake is made with polenta and not flour. Woohoo!

Now go find yourself some cake too. Happy holidays!

Moro Flatbread

What You Need:

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried yeast
a bit less than 1/2 a cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp olive oil

NOTE: this amount makes about four small-plate size flatbreads, enough for one very very hungry carb fiend like me, or two normal people. Multiply appropriately depending on your eating party’s level of carbophilia.

What You Do:

1. Mix the flour and salt in a big bowl and activate the yeast in the water, if necessary.

2. Slowly pour the water and yeast into the flour and incorporate by hand. Once all the liquid has been mixed in, punch the dough around for a few minutes. If it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour. Add the oil and keep kneading until you have a single ball of dough with a relatively smooth texture and a bit shiny with oil.

3. Let sit, covered with a damp tea towel, for about 20 minutes.

4. Pull off small balls, larger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball, and roll them out to your desired thickness onto a sturdy floured surface. A good rolling pin is handy here, but floured wine bottles work just as well.  We decided to go super-thin at Rambling Restaurant, but I like the thick and fluffy kind too.

5. Once the dough has been rolled out, you can either put them on a lightly floured baking tray or a lightly oiled pan. At RR, we decided to do both – stick it in a hot oven until they puff up and lose their wet doughy sheen, then finish off on a griddle pan for some tasty brownedness. Either way is delicious.

6.  Cook until puffy, browned, and yearning to jump into your mouth. Dip in something tasty and pat yourself on the back for having produced your very own homemade bread. That is, if your hands aren’t busy tearing apart your creation and stuffing it in your mouth.

like you enough to leave you with a picture so you can start drooling yourself.
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experiments in the kitchen: zucchini, potato, and onion focaccia with fresh herbs

potato zucchini focaccia dough photo

i’m making focaccia for rambling restaurant tomorrow! i’m excited because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and because i’m currently in the midst of a focaccia obsession. i’m also a little nervous because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and it better be good because people are paying for it. yikes! i think it’ll be great, but bread can be temperamental and i really hope it doesn’t get angry with me tomorrow.

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experiments in the kitchen: zucchini, potato, and onion focaccia with fresh herbs

potato zucchini focaccia dough photo

i’m making focaccia for rambling restaurant tomorrow! i’m excited because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and because i’m currently in the midst of a focaccia obsession. i’m also a little nervous because it’s my first time doing any real cooking for our secret supper underground restaurant and it better be good because people are paying for it. yikes! i think it’ll be great, but bread can be temperamental and i really hope it doesn’t get angry with me tomorrow.

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experiments in the kitchen: a (non)recipe for roasted tomato focaccia with mixed garden herbs

roasted tomato focaccia

i am not particularly good at following directions when it comes to baking. often, i am also bad at planning ahead to make sure i have/purchase all the ingredients necessary to make whatever i initially planned. i used to think that both those failings were major liabilities on the kitchen front, but i’ve decided that they can actually result in unexpectedly useful instances of discovery and creativity.

take, for example, the above roasted tomato focaccia. i made my first rosemary and sea salt focaccia last week, following this recipe from a spoonful of sugar as closely as my inattentive measuring and poor gram-to-cup conversion skills would allow. the result was a tasty but certainly not exciting sort of flatbread, a little too thin and a little too dry to be considered a really stellar focaccia.

upon attempting my second round of focaccia,  i had the brief thought that maybe i should pay better attention to the recipe, which seemed to work really well for the author. then i decided to screw it and go the opposite route. instead, i’d just make the adjustments i deemed necessary – i wanted it to rise more, so i added more yeast. i wanted a more moist bread, so i added more olive oil. i also found this recipe for perfect cherry focaccia from a chef from the river cafe (their menu makes for some very enticing reading btw; i shall venture there once i actually start generating an income).  i really like what this writer, stevie parle, says in the recipe:

‘Its hard to give a recipe for bread, as it is in the hands of the baker, use this recipe as a guide.’

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