Tag Archives: bread

Indian Made Easy with Poetry Stores

6 Jun

An easy Indian spread from Amandip Uppal’s new book Indian Made Easy, available from Poetry Stores (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

This new book from Amandip Uppal, Indian Made Easy (available from Poetry Stores), is simply stunning. I love the lay-out, the fonts, the simplicity of the colours and the photographs too. Amandip also chose to do something interesting with her recipe lists, listing fresh ingredients together, spices together, and pantry ingredients together. It makes a lot of sense when you shop for the ingredients, or when you get everything together before cooking, but I found that some inexperienced cooks might become confused mid-cooking when an ingredient is mentioned but it does not appear in the order of the cooking process.

For my readers’s ease, I’ve rearranged the ingredients below in the order of how it will be used. Amandip’s recipes are really flavorful and beautiful to look at – an easy intro to the fabulous world of Indian cooking. Plate up on Poetry‘s beautiful new dark blue “lace” tableware.

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded (optional) and thinly sliced
  • 600 g broccoli spears, cut down the middle lengthways
  • salt, to taste
  • 2,5 cm piece ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • toasted coconut, pomegranate seed and coriander (page 238, for garnish)
  • handful of coriander (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fennel seeds and fry until the crackle and pop.
Add the garlic, chili and broccoli and fry until the broccoli is slightly charred in colour. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, until cook the through.
Uncover, season with salt to taste and add the ginger. Toss through and gently cook for 20 seconds.
Garnish with a scattering of tasted coconut, pomegranate seeds and coriander and more coriander leaves and stalks.

My notes: This recipes is also excellent served at room temperature.

Plain naan bread with spinach & mint yoghurt (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & Mint Yoghurt

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • a large pinch of dried mint
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 225 g cooked spinach, chopped
  • 225 g natural or Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled & grated (for garnish, optional)
  • fine slivers of red chili (for garnish, optional)

Put the mint leaves, dried mint, garlic, cumin seeds and salt in a mortar. Grind with the pestle to make a smooth paste. Place the spinach into the bowl, together with the mint paste and stir in the yoghurt. Garnish with the ginger and chilli, if liked.

Plain Naan (makes 7-8)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 200 ml warm water
  • 400 g strong bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee or oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or melted butter, for brushing after baking

Mix the yeast, sugar and water. Stir well with a fork and leave for a few minutes. Place the flour, 2 tablespoons gee or oil and salt into a wide bowl and make a well in the centre.
Using one hand, pour in a little of the yeast mixture and with the other hand use a fork to gradually bring the flour in and mix together. Keep pouring a little water while mixing. Flour your hands and begin to knead and form a ball. Add enough water to make a soft, but not sticky dough and keep kneading for about 5 minutes, or until smooth pliable and soft. The consistency should bot be very soft or hard. Cover and rest for 20-25 minutes.
Using slightly oiled hands, divide the dough into about 8-10 equal sized balls. Place on a lightly oiled tray, leaving gaps in between each ball and over with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes until the balls have doubled in size.
Preheat the grill to medium-high with a heavy based baking tray on the top shelf. Roll out the dough balls thinly and evenly. One by one, place the rolled out naan onto the baking tray, brush lightly with water and grill for about 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until lightly browned and puffed up. Lightly brush with ghee and serve hot.

My notes: The recipe didn’t state how/where to roll out the dough, so I did it on a floured working surface (some naan recipes call for an oiled surface). Be sure to also dust the baking tray lightly with flour to prevent the naan from sticking to it.

Classic lamb curry (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classic Lamb Curry (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 4 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 x 250 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, plus a large pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 kg leg of lamb, chopped into 2,5 cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt, whisked with 200 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

In a blender or using a mortar and pestle, grind the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, oil and tinned tomatoes into a smooth paste.
Mix the paste with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Place the lamb in a large bowl and cover in the paste, making sure all the pieces of lamb are well coated.
Put the lamb in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is tender and the oil has separated.
Add the yoghurt, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly over a low-medium heat.
Remove from the heat, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and a large pinch of ground cumin and serve.

My notes: I’ve found that the meat needed longer time to cook than mentioned 35-40 minutes. I cooked mine over a low heat, covered, stirring every now and then to prevent the bottom of the pot from turning too dark, for about 2,5 hours until it was really tender.

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Spicy dhal with naan bread

21 Feb

Spicy dhal with fresh coriander and warm naan bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Few smells bring more comfort than that of a fragrant curry – not only in colder months but also at the height of summer. Curry doesn’t have to be expensive and complicated though, and it also doesn’t need to be meaty.

This simple spicy dhal recipe is absolutely delightful. If you have most of the spices in your cupboard, you’d be amazed at how cheap this hearty meal will work out. If you’ve never had dhal before, see it as a warm “dip” for naan bread. It is comfort food to the max.

This recipe is by far my favourite starter or side dish when I’m serving Indian food.

Tip: To turn this recipe into a heartwarming soup, add a cup or two of your favourite warmed stock to the finished dhal. Blitz with a stick blender for a smoother result (optional). Adjust seasoning and serve in mugs, topped with a dollop of plain yoghurt.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • about 400 g red lentils
  • 10 ml turmeric
  • 60 ml butter
  • 15-20 ml cumin seeds
  • 15-20 ml garam masala
  • 10 ml ground coriander
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 30 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1-2 small fresh green chillies, finely sliced (leave seeds in for a more spicy result)
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves (to serve)

Method:

  1. Place the lentils and turmeric in a saucepan and cover with enough cold water to come to around 5cm above their surface (no salt added yet). Bring to the boil, then stir in the turmeric. Reduce to a simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Cover partly and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meantime, in a small frying pan, dry-fry the cumin seeds over a medium heat until toasted and fragrant (just 1-2 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Melt half the butter in the same frying pan and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, chilli and the grated ginger. Once the mixture is golden, mix in the toasted cumin seeds, garam masala and ground coriander. Remove from the heat.
  4. Give the lentils a good stir. They should have the consistency of porridge – thicker than soup and looser than hummus. Add more water as necessary and mix in your aromatic fried mixture. Season to taste with salt & pepper, then stir in the remaining half of the butter.
  5. Serve with naan bread, topped with fresh coriander leaves, or with a side of basmati rice and greens.

For the naan bread:

  • 5 ml instant yeast
  • 60 ml warm water
  • 5 ml sugar
  • 300 g (2 cups) white bread flour
  • 10 ml cumin seeds or fennel seeds
  • 5 ml salt
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 15 ml vegetable oil
  • 60 ml yoghurt
  • 60 ml milk
  • clarified butter, for brushing

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the warm water. Stir in the sugar and leave it in a warm place for five minutes until the yeast is covered with froth.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, seeds, salt and baking powder. Stir in the oil, yoghurt and milk, then stir in the activated yeast mixture. Mix well and knead until you have a soft, pliable dough (add a little more water if you need to). It should take about ten minutes.
  3. Place the dough in a mixing bowl, cover it with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes.
  4. When doubled in size, divide the dough into 4 balls and place on a floured surface or board. Roll each into a long oval shape about 0.5cm thick. Don’t roll them out too thinly. Toast in a dry non-stick pan for 5-7 minutes, turning them over half-way (or bake in a hot oven at 220 C for about 8 minutes). They are ready when they have puffed up and are golden on the outside.
  5. Brush with warm clarified butter as soon as they are cooked. Serve immediately.

Scott’s bread

11 Jan

Freshly baked ciabatta loaves, made with Scott's bread recipe (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Freshly baked ciabatta loaves, made with Scott’s bread recipe (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Scott Armstrong joined the team at The Demo Kitchen in May 2015 as an intern – part of his practical experience (food media) for his chef’s course at the Institute of Culinary Arts. He was a quiet guy from the get-go, but I immediately realized what he’s made of after I plunged him into the deep side with a four-day cooking demo marathon at the Good Food & Wine Show.

Scott was always 30 minutes early for work. He skated here with headphones in his ears. He had loads of initiative and brought new recipes to the kitchen often. He had a very small notebook where he wrote down recipes like a journal, the pages falling apart from steamy kitchen environments.

The best recipe that Scott had introduced to me last year, is this bread recipe. He made paninis for our sandwiches everyday, and they were absolutely drop-dead delicious. I love a good bread recipe, and this one may be the best I’ve come across that doesn’t use a mother starter dough or several hours of double proofing or a wood fired oven. You do, however, need a stand mixer because the dough is super runny. You’ll also need a dough scraper for cutting and handling the proofed dough, otherwise the portions are very difficult to transfer to the baking tray. Expect to clean your mixer afterwards, because the sticky dough creeps up into the motor mechanism. But I promise you, it’s all worth it.

Transferring the proofed dough from the bowl to a floured surface. As you can see, it is very runny. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Transferring the proofed dough from the bowl to a floured surface. As you can see, it is very runny. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Thank you Scott for sharing this recipe with me. I’ll treasure it while I watch you excel at your promising career as a darn good chef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg white bread flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 15 ml dried yeast
  • 15 ml salt
  • 1 liter lukewarm water

Method:

  1. Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (K-beater, not dough hook). Mix on low-speed.
  2. With the mixer running, add the water all at once. Mix for a couple of seconds on low-speed, then turn up the speed to maximum and mix for 8 minutes continuously.
  3. Scrape down the runny dough from the beater using a spatula, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof in a warm place until doubled in size (it reaches the top of the my KitchenAid’s bowl) – about 45 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 230 C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper (or use a sieve and dust with flour). Also, dust a large clean working surface with flour.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap and use a spatula to turn out the bubbly dough onto the floured surface – do not punch down the dough. Sieve more flour over the top of the dough, then use a dough scraper to cut squares or rectangles out of the dough. Transfer each one as soon as it is cut, using the dough scraper, to the baking tray. The dough will feel light as air at this point, almost like marshmallows, but is very runny and should be handled with lots of dusted flour and a light touch. Leave a little space between the dough portions, as it will rise more in the oven.
  6. Bake at 230 C for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, depending on the size of your paninis. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
  7. Serve as sandwiches filled with your choice of filling, or slice up and use as a dipping bread for antipasti platters.

Tip: Keep left-over bread wrapped in plastic bags, and give it a quick refresh in the oven before serving to return it to its full glory.

Credits:

Recipe adaptation, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

Pan con tomate

6 Jan

Pan con tomate: toasted bread with freshly grated tomato and garlic (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pan con tomate: toasted bread with freshly grated tomato and garlic (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Here at the demo KITCHEN we’ve done quite a few Spanish-themed dinners over the last few weeks. The three course dinners consisted of some of my favourite traditional Spanish dishes: pan con tomate (toasted bread with fresh garlic & fresh tomato), paella with chicken & black mussels, and spiced chocolate churros.

I want to share two of these recipes with you, starting with pan con tomate (next time we’ll get to the churros). This is one of those dishes that is deeply satisfying because of its simplicity, but only if you choose the ingredients well. Buy great quality bread (or bake your own), choose only the ripest reddest firm tomatoes, use a robust extra virgin olive oil, and eat it as fresh as possible.

Although the original way to eat pan con tomate says that you need to rub a tomato half straight onto the toasted bread, I find that it can be a messy affair and not everybody likes to get their hands dirty. Use a course grater to grate the tomato from the cut side, so that you are left with the skins.

This is a fantastic start to a lazy summer lunch or dinner. Add beautiful shavings of ham, stuffed olives and cheese, and you have a perfect simple tapas spread.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 4 x panini sticks, sliced horizontally in half (small baguettes, or just use normal baguettes)
  • cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, skins removed
  • 1 -2 large ripe tomatoes, halved and coarsely grated from the inside out (discard the skins)
  • salt flakes & cracked black pepper

Method:

  1. Toast the bread cut-side down in a hot griddle pan or over an open fire. Remove from heat and quickly drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Now use a clove of garlic to rub onto the bread, all over the surface.
  3. Top with freshly grated tomato, then season well with salt & pepper. Enjoy immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Croque madame

29 Aug

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Still wondering what the big difference is between a croque madame and a croque monsieur? An egg. And the egg is placed on top of the croque madame – not the monsieur.

I was quite surprised by this bit of information mentioned above. In my mind, a so-called monsieur’s breakfast is usually bigger than a so-called madame’s breakfast, not the other way around. Come to think of it, I actually love the fact that the madame get to have the bigger meal. Anything is better topped with a poached egg, especially if it’s all golden and gooey.

Next to the classic eggs benedict, this is my second favourite breakfast in the world. It’s probably because I’m a sauce person. And I love rich breakfasts with butter, cheese and runny poached eggs. Top it off with really great toast, like the sourdough from Schoon de Compagne, and I’m a happy camper.

Ingredients for the Gruyere sauce: (serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup full cream milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Dijon mustard
  • about 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • salt & pepper

Method:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well to form a smooth paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the milk and stir to form a smooth, thick sauce. Turn down the heat to very low, then add the mustard, cheese and seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Ingredients for the croque madame: (serves 2)

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
  • 4 slices of best quality smoked ham (I used hickory ham)
  • 2-4 eggs, poached in water for 3-4 minutes

Place the slices of toast on a baking tray. Top with slices of ham and Gruyere sauce, then place under a hot grill to turn golden brown (watch carefully, it only takes a minute). Remove from the oven, then top with a freshly poached egg. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Chocolate brioche

20 Jun

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My sister is a keen baker. She specifically loves baking ciabatta loaves for her family and for dinner guests, and uses great quality stone ground flour for her bread. They also have a beautiful little outdoor pizza oven at the farmhouse where they live in Somerset West, which bakes amazing pizzas in just 2-3 minutes – fantastic.

My sister also loves baking cakes and pastries. She has dozens of little colourful page markers inside her food magazines that she uses as recipe references, and have passed quite a few of her favourite recipes on to me.  Last year, she gave me a 10 page spread from Rooi Rose of July 2013 featuring amazing bread recipes and baking tips. I use it as a reference often!

So when I got the idea of baking a chocolate brioche, I first consulted my sister’s baking references, then my trusted range of recipe books at home. Strangely, none of them contained a recipe that I liked. I was looking for a dark brown all-chocolate loaf, not a white loaf with a chocolate filling (which can also be amazing, by the way). In the process I came across Herman Lensing’s recipe for a chocolate brioche that he did for Sarie Kos – a rich buttery loaf with a chocolate filling and a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. I decided to adapt Herman’s recipe for what I had in mind, and serve it with lashes of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.

Herman’s recipe makes 2 large loaves, which I found can sometimes be a little too much for a small household. I halved the recipe, but kept some more yeast in the list of ingredients for the smaller mixture to rise as well as the large mixture does.

This is a recipe that I’ll be passing back to my sister for her collection – such an indulgent treat, especially for breakfast on a rainy Winter’s weekend. Enjoy!

Note: The dough needs to rest overnight in the fridge, so remember to start the process the night before if you want to eat it freshly baked for breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 1 large loaf)

  •  450g cake flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 50g (60ml or 1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 15g instant dry yeast (1 and a half sachets)
  • 10g (10ml) salt
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 250ml butter, cut into small blocks
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked

Method:

  1. Using a stand mixer with K-beater attachment, place the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, yeast, salt and eggs in the bowl of the mixer and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. You should have a stiff dough mixture.
  2. Now add butter a bit at a time, mixer running, until all the butter has been incorporated. You should have a smooth sticky dough.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover, then refrigerate overnight to rest.
  4. Turn the mixture out on a floured surface, then roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm. Fold the dough and repeat 2 times. Now roll it up and place inside a greased bread tin, OR cut into 3 strands and plait for a different look (place on a greased baking tray). Leave the dough in a warm area to rise for 60-90 minutes, until double in volume.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C for at least 15 minutes, then brush with the whisked egg and bake for about 30 minutes until done. Serve warm with lashings of Nutella spread.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Nigella’s rum & raisin banana bread

3 Mar

Toasted slices of banana bread, topped with thick cream and berry coulis (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

For one of our monthly food shoots last year at Tasha‘s house in Elgin, she greeted us with the seducing smell of something exotic yet strangely familiar. It was a loaf of freshly baked banana bread with added rum and sultanas. It was so moist and delicious that I had to ask for the recipe.

Tasha found it in Nigella‘s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”, but changed it slightly to include desiccated coconut instead of walnuts, and salted butter instead of unsalted. This is honestly one of the best recipes for banana bread that I have tasted, and I can strongly recommend it. Nigella says on her website that you can add some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, which would make it darker and even more heavenly. But the choice is yours.

I love serving this bread thickly sliced topped with double cream (or clotted cream or mascarpone) and some kind of berry coulis or good quality runny berry jam. It is an excellent choice for breakfast in bed for your lover on Valentines Day or on a romantic weekend, might I add. Decadent, indulgent, utterly delicious.

I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary on the 14th of February this year. I’m a very, very lucky girl to be married to Schalk. He is kind, honest, an amazing father, and the best friend I could ever wish for. Did I mention he is tall, dark and dangerously handsome? Here’s to many more breakfasts in bed for the two of us!

Freshly baked rum and raisin banana bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients:

  • 100 g sultanas or raisins (both work very well, but I prefer sultanas)
  • 75 ml dark rum
  • 175 g cake flour
  • 30 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 2.5 ml salt
  • 30 g (125 ml) desiccated coconut
  • 125 g salted butter (melted)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small ripe bananas (or 3 large, about 300 g mashed banana)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. An hour before you start baking, place the sultanas/raisins and rum in a small saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and leave to soak for an hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170 C.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients together and add the coconut.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar. Now beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the bananas, sultanas with rum, and vanilla. Don’t worry if it looks like the mixture has “split”.
  5. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, and stir well after each bit.
  6. Pour into a loaf tine of about 23 x 13 x 7 cm (9 x 5 x 3 inches) and bake in the middle of your oven for 50-60 minutes. The outside should be a nutty brown colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin.

Tip: You can also make beautifully soft muffins from the same recipe, just bake them for about 20-25 minutes.

 

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Panzanella with smoked chicken, capers & basil

6 Feb

Panzanella: a traditional Tuscan bread salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

These days, most of us have access to great bread. Here in my hometown of Stellenbosch I can buy a large loaf of freshly baked sour dough bread any day of the week at Schoon de Compagne, and I use it in so many ways.

On the first day, I just eat it on its own, drenched with great quality olive oil or topped with a thick slab of cold Ayrshire butter. On day 2, I eat it toasted as bruschetta with various toppings: slow roasted tomatoes with garlic, marinated peppers, baked aubergines with feta, the list is endless. On day 3, I use it to make croutons or process it to make breadcrumbs for toppings and stuffings. The uses are infinite and the bread just keeps on giving. (For more ideas, check out Saveur’s 40 favourite recipes with stale bread.)

The Italians have great ways of using stale bread. They make fantastic soups, salads, meat dishes and even puddings with it – economical and oh so tasty. One of my favourite Italian inspired ways of using a stale loaf is to make panzanella, a traditional summery Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes. There are many versions of panzanella, but mine contains tomatoes, yellow peppers, capers, basil, red onion and smoked chicken.

And here’s a handy tip: if you want to give your panzanella an authentic Italian look, don’t cut the bread, rather break it into chunks. This way the salad has so much more character. It’s a meal on its own, but don’t be afraid to serve it as one of many dishes on a lazy, extended, weekend lunch with lots of great wine in a shady spot under the trees.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a main meal, or 6 as a side dish)

For the “croutons”:

  •  about 3 cups of stale torn bread chunks (preferably sour dough or ciabatta)
  • 60 ml olive oil

For the dressing:

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/crushed
  • salt and black pepper for seasoning

For the salad:

  • 3 cups toasted croutons (see above)
  • 2 small smoked chicken breasts, sliced or torn into smaller chunks
  • 250 g mixed small tomatoes, sliced in half or in smaller slices
  • 1 yellow pepper, seeds and pith removed, sliced
  • 50 g capers (drained)
  • 1/4 cup of finely sliced red onion (optional)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. For the croutons: In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and then toast the bread chunks until they are golden brown on all sides. Toss often until ready, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. For the dressing: mix all ingredients together in a cup, using a fork to whisk. Set aside.
  3. For the salad: in a large mixing bowl, add the croutons, chicken breast chunks, sliced tomatoes, sliced pepper, capers, red onion and basil. Pour half the dressing over the salad, then mix well. Add more dressing according to taste – I like it when the bread absorbs a lot of the dressing, resulting in a softer tangy chew. Transfer the mixed salad to a beautiful salad bowl, and serve immediately.

Note: If your loaf of stale bread has a very hard crust on the outside, cut it off before tearing the bread into chunks.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Mosbolletjies

29 Mar

Glazing my traditional South African mosbolletjies (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I was still at school, my Mother baked for the local “tuisnywerheid” (home industry) for many years. She supplied them with a range of buttermilk rusks, but her absolute hero product was magnificent “mosbolletjies”. The best way to describe mosbolletjies is that it’s a sweet brioche, traditionally made with fermented grape juice (these days we just use normal grape juice) and flavoured with aniseed. The texture is feathery and there is just nothing on earth like a torn piece of mosbolletjie with thickly spread butter and golden syrup.

We were very spoilt to be casually eating freshly baked mosbolletjies almost every single day, when others queued at the “tuisnywerheid” early in the morning to get their hands on a warm loaf. My mother baked huge batches of large loaves, her oven brimming with the beautifully golden rounds of dough.

My Mother have been very ill over the last few weeks, and I wish I could have brough her these mosbolletjies today. Get better soon Ma! I love you very much and we’ll visit you soon!

PS: These mosbolletjies are perfect for Easter.

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Heilie Pienaar’s “The Ultimate Snowflake Collection”)

  • 1 kg cake flour
  • 10 ml salt
  • 100 g (125 ml) sugar
  • 10 g (1 sachet) instant dry yeast
  • 30 ml whole aniseed
  • 100 g butter
  • 250 ml white grape juice
  • 125 ml lukewarm milk
  • 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 30 ml sugar mixed with 30 ml lukewarm water (sugar syrup for brushing after baking)

Method:

  1.  Sift flour and salt together. Add sugar, yeast and aniseed. Stir well.
  2. Heat butter and grape juice in a saucepan until butter has melted. Do not boil. Add to dry ingredients along with milk and water, then mix to form a soft dough.
  3. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface, then knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic. Place in a large oiled bowl, then cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or doubled in size.
  4. Knock down dough on a floured surface, and knead until smooth. Divide into equal pieced and shape into balls (the correct technique is to squeeze balls of dough through a circle made by your thumb and forefinger, using oiled/buttered hands, this way you get nice smooth balls of dough). Pack the balls tightly into 2 loaf tins of about 22cm each. Cover and leave to rise for about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for 35-40 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, then brush immediately with syrup.
  6. Leave to cool slightly, then eat warm, or break into pieces and dry out in a cool oven at 70 C overnight.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

Wholewheat seed loaf

20 Aug

Wholewheat seed loaf (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

On a recent trip to the Eastern Cape, we visited my Mother in law in Port Elizabeth. We have not spent much time at her home before, as she usually prefers to visit us in Stellenbosch – that way she can also see most of her other family that live in the Cape.

While making sandwiches in her kitchen, I noticed the most beautiful old bread knife. When I asked where it came from, she told me that it was her Mother’s bread knife that she had bought during the war with coupons that she found in cigarette boxes. The knife had been their household bread knife since before my Mom in law’s birth, which makes it in the region of 70 years old. It was such a beautiful knife – so beautifully preserved although it had been used every day for decades.

At the end of our visit, my Mom in law gave me the knife as a present! She knew how much I loved cooking and baking, and how well I would look after this special knife in our young family. I wanted to feature it in a beautiful picture as soon as I had the chance, so I chose this recipe from Phillippa Cheifitz’s book: “Lazy Days”. As Phillippa puts it, it’s a “real meal of a loaf”, roughly textured and full of seeds and other whole wheat goodness. It reminded me of the wholesome history of the knife, and the unpretentious role it had played in slicing bread for my husband’s family all these years.

I look forward to passing it on to my daughter one day.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (750 ml) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) oats
  • 1/2 (125 ml) cup bran
  • 1 cup (125 ml) mixed seeds (like sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin and/or linseeds)
  • 1 T (15 ml) dried yeast
  • 1 T (15 ml) honey
  • 2 cups (500 ml) warm water
  • 2 t (10 ml) salt
  • 1 T 15 ml) sunflower oil
  • a mix of seeds from sprinkling over the top

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, oats, bran and seeds in a bowl.
  2. Stir the yeast and honey into half a cup of the warm water and leave for about 10 minutes to froth. Add the salt, oil and the frothy yeast to the flour mixture.
  3. Stir in the rest of the warm water, then pour into a 25-30 cm loaf pan, well oiled or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle liberally with mixed seeds and gently press in with your fingertips.
  4. Leave in a warm place until risen to the top, or almost to the top of the tin (it takes about 30 min). Bake at 200 C for an hour, then cool on a wire rack, covered with a tea towel to soften the crust.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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