Saturday, 27 June 2015

Pizza with a thin crust

I love the pizza my mum was making for us. It is on a rather thick bread-y dough, has a nice tomato concentrate base and topped with oregano, chorizo, red pepper slices and mozzarella. I have been doing it a lot myself as I enjoy this combination of toppings.

I have now updated it with a thin-based dough thanks to yet another recipe taken from Valérie - and yes that's in french. She is giving lots of tips, critically for the baking bit, which is unfortunately poorly documented in many recipes. Her recipe is here, I have translated it below. 
Her dough is great, it will make nice bubbles if you let it raise twice and if the oven is really hot.

The quantities below are for two 30cm pizzas:
225g flour type 45 or 00
10g fresh yeast
135g water
13g olive oil
3.5g salt

Solubilise the yeast in lukewarm water (not warm). 
Add flour and oil and mix a bit. Add salt, then knead thoroughly with a robot (or with your hands!) until the dough is "as smooth as a baby bottom". She is using her robot at low speed for 10 minutes; I only have two settings on mine and leave it to turn for 3 minutes.
Cover the dough and let it grow for 1 hour and 30 minutes (it needs to double in size). Punch it with your fist to degas, then divide in as many portions as you need. (You may want to leave it to grow a second time here)

Warm up the oven at 280°C static heat.
Slightly flour your bench space, spread a portion of dough with a rolling pin very thinly if you want it thin and crusty or thicker (5mm) if you like it on the bread-y side. 
Garnish your pizza as you like it. 

Use either a non stick baking mat on a grid, or directly on a metallic tray or a pizza stone.  The crispiest would be at 280°C with heat from the bottom of the oven. The thicker and moister version would be at 190°C in the middle of the oven.
Place in the oven for 8-10 minutes and monitor closely the baking.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

London Taste Festival

Last weekend we went to Taste of London, which is a food and drink festival. There is a range of producers, cookware suppliers, workshops and top restaurants making some of their iconic dishes. I appreciated that we could make our own testing menu from what was most appealing to us across all those top restaurants. 

One could find Made-in-France copper cookwares

Local producers

Making sure the chocolate is perfect!

Beautiful cured meats

Biscuits were on too

Cooking / Tasting workshops

Drinks were playing an important part in the festival

Michel Roux Jr was promoting is new cooking show

I could take a picture with Marcus Wareing!!

Delicious Pork belly form Pont St
(Bourbon and Maple Glazed Pork Belly Squares with 'Waldorf' slaw)

Duck & Waffle
The famous crispy duck leg confit, fried hen's egg, mustard maple syrup on a waffle
It is even better than it sounds! I loved it

Hot Cheese Balls with Pont St Quince Jelly

Monday, 22 June 2015

Louna's recipe for fluffy pancakes

We don't do pancakes in France, because we have nice crepes already. Now that I am living in the UK, I am still making French crepes, but also trying out the thick small spongy version of it - aka pancake. Most of the recipes use buttermilk, which implies some sort of planning as I don't routinely have that in my fridge. 
My sister recently revealed me that buttermilk could be swapped by yoghurt + milk and gave me an amazing recipe that cannot go wrong!  
The recipe is for 12 pancakes (4 hungry people).

Mix the liquid ingredients: 2 eggs with a total of 250g yoghurt + milk. In another bowl, mix the solid ingredients: 200 self-raising flour, salt and 50g sugar. Then mix solids and liquids, without insisting. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. The mix is thick and bubbly.

Cook for a couple of minutes until bubbles appear at the surface, then flip over. The pancakes raises immediately.

Check out how fluffy, light and airy they are!

They are perfect with the usual bacon and maple syrup...

...As well as with red fruits and chocolate sauce.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Tortellini with Blake

This weekend Blake showed me how to make tortellini. It was amazing!

We use his Kitchen Aid attachment to roll the dough - which is quite nice as it uses the motor to turn the rolls, so no need of a spare hand to crank it. 
The lowest speed setting is really comfortable (not stressful at all) to work with. 
The width may be smaller (around 15cm) than most of the manual machines I have seen, but I do not think that is a problem.

As a filling, we use mince pork seasoned with salt, peppercorns and fennel seeds. This is on the dry side so really easy to work with.
It is also raw and we use a small enough volume that it will cook in 2-3 minutes, which is the time the pasta dough needs.

We cut small squares (half the width of the dough sheet, so around 7cm x 7cm) and put a small teaspoon of the filling in the middle. 
We then wet two sides and fold in a triangle, removing the air so that the dough is closely shaping the filling. 

Next is an artistic folding of the two acute angles of the triangle over and around the filling that you push and fold like a handbag would hanging from its handle. Wrap one angle around the filling then the other one over the first and tuck all nicely. 
I guess you can find videos on the web if you are interested in the details. It took me a couple of times to get it right, but once it is boiled you don't notice the difference between perfect and not so nicely shaped! 

As mentioned previously, the tortellini cook in a couple of minutes in actively boiling water. Check that the part with all the folds is tender between your fingers as it is going to take longer.

We serve it in a fragrant beef broth and topped with onion greens. It is excellent! Perfect for a not so warm day - well any day in UK really.

We did around 50; counting 10 per person, and it took us only 
half an hour from rolling to cooking

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Tomatoes Tarte Tatin

I love tarte Tatin. Caramelised apples on a buttery pastry. This is not something one messes with and I have always seen the other-than-apple tarte Tatin as a failed way to improve it. I have never been so wrong because the idea is actually to apply this marvelous combination to other ingredients to try to improve them (and not the original tarte).
But then I read this appealing tomatoes tarte Tatin recipe:

- 400g cherry tomatoes cut in halves and de-seeded (otherwise pastry gets soggy)
- 1 red oignon
Lay out on a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes.

- 30g butter
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 cloves or garlic
- 2 tbsp thyme
Color for a couple of minutes in the pan then mix with the tomatoes and onion. Lay the pastry above it, tucking in the edges and bake for 20-30 minutes at 200°C.

It was amazing!! I loved the balance between sweetness of the caramelised onions and sharpness of garlic & vinegar.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Spinach Pasta

Last test with the pasta machine: spinach pasta!

I used my TurboTup (from a Tupperware diner party) to mix 100g cooked spinach (just 1 min covered in microwave) with 1 whole egg.

I incorporated this liquid mixture into 200g flour 00.

The dough is not as green as I would have hoped (I guess it needs more processing for a solid green), and softer than normal pasta. I dusted it with semolina to be able to hand-cut folds into thick parpadelle.
I let cook for 1 min in salted water boiling actively.
Here they are, served with the leanest duck breast I have ever cooked (I guess they don't force-feed them around here).
I find the pasta has a nice spinach flavor and looks better than pasta and spinach (as it often makes small blobs at the bottom of the dish).

That's the end of my pasta-test and I have to admit that after five consecutive days of pasta I am a bit sick of it... Still, I am excited about ravioli-making and that may be a reason big enough for me to get a machine!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Chocolate Pasta

This week I have been trying out a pasta machine. I did simple tagliatelle, then my two favorites ravioli (prawn & chives, spinach & ricotta) and I am now going wild making chocolate pasta (I did not even now it existed before a colleague warmly recommended it to me!).

I am replacing 1/10th of the flour by 70% dark cocoa powder (10 grams cocoa for 90g flour). The dough has an homogenous nice dark chocolate color which does not alter while cooking. 
Because the recipe does not have any sugar in it and as the chocolate is dark (70%) the taste is of almost bitter chocolate, so in my opinion this calls for a sweet topping. 
Many recipes suggest to serve them with red berries and/or vanilla (ice) cream. I did not have any of those on hand so chose to topped the pasta with honey & ricotta instead.

It is my first time eating chocolate pasta and I was really happy with them (of course they are nice: there is chocolate!). 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Pasta machine?

I love pasta. They are cheap and easy to prepare, but I have heard many times that making your own is totally worth it. So before buying another kitchen gadget, we've borrowed one from colleagues for me to try!

The habit of passing the Fimo paste (polymer clay for jewelry) takes over and I am working the dough until it gets soft.
Then I go down the thickness and appreciate having a machine - that's an easy job compared to a rolling pin! 

It is so thin we can see my fingers through it!

I quickly learn that lightly flouring the cut pasta is not enough to prevent them to stick together!

Here is the result of the first test with tomato sauce

They are amazingly silky, soft and thin (I chose to make this first batch really thin). Taste-wise: no difference really, they are quite blank (did not blend in any seasoning). 
Overall I enjoyed the experience, all went really well and the process is surprisingly quick. I loved this silky texture and I look forward to try new shapes. I am thinking of trying thicker, ridged and ravioli. Any suggestion is welcome!!