Tag Archives: bread

Tartine Bread and Cowgirl Creamery Food Porn

It might just be the best bread in the world.  A warm, soft, tantalizingly nutty sesame loaf, fresh from the ovens just after 5pm…

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A Rambling Aphrodisiac Dinner, Complete With Searing Loins and Gin & Tonic Jelly

Hooray! It’s time for another Rambling Restaurant Singles Night featuring an aphrodisiac dinner, so you know things are bound to get hot.  Particularly when you have five people in a veryverycozy kitchen and have fresh bread baking in the oven, a giant vat of soup bubbling on the stove, and ten large pork loins popping and fizzing boiling oil all over the place.

Really. Hot. Temperatures. Luckily, there was also a dining room full of really hot people (yes yes, as in extremely attractive) all mixing and mingling on the other side of the curtain.  To get their taste buds primed and hearts racing, we served four courses featuring ingredients thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.  Of course, both dessert courses featured what is inarguably the most guaranteed aphrodisiac of them all – a large quantity of alcohol. Which is how we started the night as well, with glasses of passionfruit, raspberry and rosebud fizz.

Each cocktail came with a little tag marked with a suit denoting where to sit for your first table, along with some silly icebreaker questions inside to spark conversation or incite passionate debate.  Our eleven brave men and eleven brave women scattered amongst four tables to wait for these shiny happy braids of dough…

…to toast to perfection into these lovely browned plaits with a soft and fluffy white interior.

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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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food in finland, part two: a market picnic on the islands of suomenlinna the sea fortress

finnish cheese and smoked reindeer on suomenlinna island

As if the Old Market Hall in Helsinki weren’t amazing enough on its own, it can also boast of a beautiful location just on the water overlooking the South Harbor. Enormous cruise ships loom as tall as skyscrapers and as large as city blocks, dwarfing the little local tugboats and ferry boats that zip through the harbor and around the coast and islands. In the helpful visitor’s centre just by the Market Square I bought a 24 hour travel card that included unlimited travel on the trams, buses, and most excitingly, the ferry to the islands of Suomenlinna. Let’s be quite frank –  I will never, ever, fail to be highly entertained by being on a boat

Of course lots of rye breadwhen setting off on an island adventure, one must always think ahead to provide sustenance for the daring and dangerous trip ahead. Unlike most other stranded islanders foraging for coconuts and dead bugs,  I had the luxury of departing from a ferry stop a mere four minutes walk from the Old Market Hall so I stocked up on Finnish treats for the voyage.

I started with a mini loaf of classic Scandinavian rye bread (100% ruis!)  and bought some strong Finnish cheese that I can’t even begin to pronounce but is spelled viinitarhurin.  Brushed with wine and aged for six months, the cheese reminded me a bit of a comte or gruyere with its smooth slices crumbling into nutty shards.  Add a bit of  deep burgundy colored and intensely flavorful Rudolph the delicious cold-smoked reindeer and it’s a ridiculously adorable little Finnish sandwich of love.

love is bread, cheese, and reindeer meat

Snacks in hand, I boarded the ferry for the 15 minute ride across the harbor to Suomenlinna

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amsterdam, part one: exploring an amazing foodie street in a city of munchies

an insane array of cheese in the dutch cheese shop

i knew i was in a city of good eating when one of my first morning stumbles was into a shop called ‘cheeseland’ with wheels of emmenthaler the size of a monster truck tire or a dog bed for a large-ish golden retriever.  to give you a sense of scale, that wedge has a larger diameter than my kitchen table (not that you’ve seen my kitchen table, but it’s of a good size).  hellooo and welcome to amsterdam.

the reason for my cheese shop visit was thanks to a few days in holland hanging out with my friends rootster and flinner, two of my favorite people who live far away in chengdu, china, whom i clearly do not get to see often enough. these two party legends emailed and said ‘hey we’re going to be in amsterdam next week! come meet up!’ and i said ‘hmm….okay!’ and a week later found myself enjoying all of amsterdam’s myriad sources of entertainment.  i love living on a continent with affordable train travel, even when you live on an island. amazing.

since i got in on a fairly late train, my first real experience with amsterdam’s quality food came on a solo morning tour of the streets around our friend’s apartment near the central train station. i left root and flinner to catch up on sleep in a new time zone and ventured out to get coffee and munchies. and just so you know – it was 9am so i don’t mean that kind of coffee or that kind of munchies –  those came later in that day (remember mom, it’s legal there!). haarlemmerstraat, the street right outside our friend’s place must be some sort of gourmet thoroughfare because i visited two cheese shops, three bread and pastry shops, an olive oil store, a spanish and an italian delicatessen, a lebanese bakery, and two juice bars over the course of the trip.  i knew it was a good neighborhood when i immediately ran into this chocolate and sweets shop:

unlimited delicious shopfront

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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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food tours with the hackney hostel: macaroons, focaccia, and one hell of a churro

macaroons from laduree in paris

we’ve had a steady stream of friends and family rotating through the hackney hostel over the past month, which has meant many a fantastic food exploration throughout london. having some of my favorite people in town has been wonderful, not in the least when your houseguests bring you delicious treats straight from paris like these insanely decadent macaroons from the famous ladurée shop.  from the top:  salted caramel, chocolate, rose, and pistachio. amazing. thanks chris and ant!

of course, no visit to the hackney hostel is complete without visiting several markets. we made the absolutely essential saturday morning hangover stop at the toasted cheese stall at borough market, then hit up the usual suspects like scallops and bacon, fresh oysters, strawberries and cream, lamb burgers, halloumi veggie burgers, and all those old friends. a new discovery was the focacc-with-many-deliciously-unexpected-ingredients like the one i purchased with leeks, pine nuts, and ricotta. i’ve started experimenting with making focaccia, which i’ll post about someday, so it was inspiring to see all the inventive combinations. my most recent visitors – anthony, dan, and christine – show off my focaccia here. you can’t really see the bread, but you can see their excitable foodie delight (especially anthony’s).

ant dan chris and the focaccia

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it’s always sunny in scandinavia, part three: swedish food porn

you know a shop is selling something really spectacular when the number of people waiting outside is greater than the number of people who can actually fit inside. welcome to st. jakobs stenugnsbageri, a tiny little storefront in lund filled with the most mouthwatering pastries and breads.

at the bakery in lund

peter, my new swedish cousin-in-law, has just informed me that stenugnsbageri means ‘stone oven bakery’. mmm. walking to the wedding, cousin lexi and i stopped and did some drooling at the array of loaves in the window and i vowed to return the next day.  my belly is so glad i did.

rye loaves in the bakery

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