Sunday, 30 June 2013

Focaccia doesn't mean ugly seal!

Have you ever heard of focaccia? It's an Italian type of bread which translated literally means ugly seal, but it actually doesn't have anything to do with this funny animal. 

Focaccia is very popular in Italy as its dough is very similar to the one of pizza. Since it's usually topped with "dry" ingredients such as herbs, olives, or onions, instead of with tomato sauce and mozzarella, olive oil is generously spread over the dough to preserve the moisture. Also a common thing to do is to dot it, either with a fork or with fingers, in order for the dough to soak the oil. 

I made this week the version with herbs and salt and want to share the recipe with you.

400 ml. water
15 gr. salt
12 gr. yeast
2 spoons of sugar 
600 gr. flour
100 ml. olive oil
mixed herbs: sage, rosemarin, basil, oregano, etc.

Put in a bowl the yeast and the sugar and stir with 20 ml. of water until melted. In the remaining water melt the salt and add the oil. Put the flour in your mixer and add the fluid mixtures. Mix for about 5 minutes or until you have a homogeneous but sticky dough (if you prefer you can work with your hands). On an oven tray pour some oil and place your dough ball in the middle. Put the tray in the oven without turning it on (this is very important!) and let the dough rise for about an hour. As soon as it has doubled its size you can start giving it the right shape by spreading it with your hands and some oil. Make sure to leave fingerprints or to dot it with a fork. Then let it rise for 10 more minutes. Now heat your oven at 200• C and in the mean time add the herbs, salt, and oil that is left over. Spray over your focaccia some water; it's important to crate a humid environment to keep the dough soft. If necessary spread more water whilst the focaccia bakes for 15 minutes. When golden-brown it is ready. Let it cool down and then enjoy a bite of Italy!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

OTR: Sri Lanka 2011

Today, while I was looking at some old pictures I had posted on my Facebook page, I came across these entries about my trip to Sri Lanka in the Summer of 2011. Since I released the blog just after that experience I had never written about it here. So I decided to repropose to you these pictures and my personal thoughts about that amazing holiday. 

On the 8th of Semptember 2011 I wrote:

Hello all!
So I think it's time for me to tell you where I've been and to show you the sweet things I've seen and tasted for you, of course (or maybe for me... I have such a sweet tooth hehehe!) I was in sunny, friendly, colourful, spicy and exotic Sri Lanka. I have never seen so much fruit as in this country and have tasted almost all of it: mango, pineapple, guava, rabutan, dragon fruit, coconut, papaya, passion fruit, red and YELLOW watermelon (I had no idea it existed), and bananas. 
This picture is of my breakfast on the wonderful beach of Tangalla (@ Mangrove Cabanas). Sun, sea, sand, an old tree trunk as a table, and banana pancakes with banana milksake. Simply delicious!

Still in Sri Lanka, as we where driving from Koggala to Unawatuna with a rented scooter, I just had to stop this guy and ask him to take a picture. I simply love this three wheeler bakery... I am considering of buying one too and wander around the city: the Tuc-tuc sweet Bakery! The most hilarious thing about the whole scene was a Per Elisa jingle the owner played to catch the attention of the people walking by. So out of place, hahaha!

Last but not least, I'm sharing a picture of the sweetest but tiniest bakery in Galle Fort. I assure you it is as small as you see it, inside it there is barely space for two people, and the tables are taken out by the owners depending on the number of guests. The atmosphere is so delightful and family like, a sweet little girl prepared the chocolate sundae we ordered and had quite a struggle with it since the ice cream was so hard that the scoops kept on flying around :D
It was such a refreshing treat! Although everything else looked delicious as well.


P.S.: here is a series of greedy monkeys we met on the way!
P.P.S.: the pictures were taken by Michael Ritter.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Chicken Curry Candies

This week is really savoury week and as I have already told you in this post I like to experiment with shortcrust pastry and various ingredients. Today I will show you my new creation: the Chicken Curry Candies. This is a funny and delicious recipe which works perfectly for a party, a light dinner, or a quick lunch. Once you have the shortcrust pastry (which you can also buy ready-made) it´s very very veeeeery quick to prepare.

Ingredients for 3:
shortcrust pastry
2 small chicken breasts
1 red pepper
1 big carrot
olive oil

Roll out the short crust pastry on a sheet of baking paper and cut it following its shape. In this way you will have a rectangle which you will cut in 8 squares. Cut into stripes of the same size the chicken, the carrot, and the pepper. Then you can start forming the candies as shown below:
1. Place in the middle of each square a piece of chicken, carrot, and pepper. 
    Sprinkle some curry and a  couple drops of olive oil.
2. Close the pastry over the filling.
3. Twist the empty limbs a couple of times to make sure the filling stays inside.

Then when your candies are ready, bake them in the oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown. You can eat them warm or cold; they are delightful accompanied by curry rice and fresh mixed salad or simply alone.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Grinch

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the rain, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And puzzled and puzzled ´till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn´t before. What if rucola, he thought, bought at the store. What if rucola, perhaps, can become a pesto like never before!
- Dr. Seuss and Me -

Sometimes I end up buying too much salad, especially rucola which I like to eat with carpaccio, bresaola or salmon, but not alone. Rucola is too bitter to be eaten alone, just like the Grinch, one of my favourite characters by Dr. Seuss. So when I don´t know what to do with it or when I notice it is starting to shrivel up I transform it into a delicious bread-spread or pesto (I hate to throw food away and almost never do!!!). But this can be done with any other salad type.

For the spread:
Take your salad leaves, wash them and put them in an electric mixer with a spoon of olive oil, and as much philadelphia cheese is needed to obtain a nice green cream. If the rucola is too bitter you can add a pinch of sugar. Now you can enjoy a nice peace of bread with some salmon or egg and your bread-spread.

For the pesto:
Take your salad leaves, wash them and put them in an electric mixer with a hand-full of pine nuts, grated parmesan, and as much olive oil is needed to obtain a fluid but consistent pesto sauce. There you go, your pesto is ready to be eaten with pasta, salad, carpaccio, tomatoes, and mozzarella.


P.S. I told you this was savoury week!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Now, with the horrible weather of these past days - or better say weeks - I am in the mood of savoury baking. So I decided to experiment with short crust pastry and various ingredients to make a light but tasty salted cake. The result was this zucchini "cake" and curry chicken "candies", which I will post in the following days. 

What you need is short crust pastry (I follow this recipe), 2 to 3 zucchini, 2 to 3 eggs, some philadelphia cheese, salt, pepper, sage leaves, parmesan cheese. Prepare the bottom of your cake, by spreading the short crust pastry in a round or rectangular baking pan. Beat the eggs, salt, pepper, and sage with the philadelphia cheese. Then slice your zucchini and pan fry them for 10 minutes or until soft (if you prefer a lighter version you can also boil them). You can either leave them like this (that´s what I did) or you can mince them and mix them with the eggs and cheese. Then pour the filling in the baking pan and sprinkle some parmesan cheese. If you have some short crust pastry left, you can either close the cake or make a decoration on top. Bake in the oven at 180°C for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown.

This is a very easy and quick recipe; not a very refined one, but rustic and home-made. Everyone will love it and if you don´t like these ingredients you can change, add, and experiment with many others: asparagus, ham, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, turkey, speck, and many more...


Tiny Hand With Heart