Fresh yeast!

Ever since we moved to Maffra, we have been in search of fresh yeast. It seems that bakers around here use dried yeast, which meant that whenever we went to Melbourne we would have to stock up, bring it home, portion it out, and then vac seal it to help retain the freshness and viability of the product.

Recently Gary has made it his mission to find fresh yeast locally. He googled, then he hit the road. He found a place in nearby Sale, that sell it frozen – it seemed to work ok. But last week he went to Traralgon, and guess what…. We have fresh yeast!

Fresh Yeast

When he came home he presented me with a lovely little package, but stated that there was a price to pay…. That price – I need to send a recipe for pizza dough that has fresh yeast in the ingredients, to the lady that served him. Oh, and the recipe is to be one using “normal” flour. I haven’t made normal pizza dough in years – I only make gluten free, it’s just easier to do it that way, so that I can eat it.

Now, I have a wonderful Italian cookbook, The food of Italy (2000) J Price (ed) (Murdoch Books), so grabbed it down, and yes, there was the recipe needed.

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I couldn’t share the recipe without testing it, so that decided what our evening meal was to be that day. I would need to make “normal” pizza dough and a gluten free option for me.

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The recipe was, as expected, perfect, which means that I can not only share it with Rosa, I can share it with everyone.

Pizza Dough

  • Servings: Makes 2 large pizzas (or 4 individual pizzas)
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I was asked if I had a pizza dough recipe using fresh yeast, I didn't, but found this recipe in my favourite Italian recipe book, I am told that it is perfect, but I cannot try it, because it is not gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 15 g fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 220g lukewarm water
  • 450g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Put the sugar and yeast into a small bowl and stir in 90 ml of the water. Set aside in a draught-free place to activate – it should take about five minutes
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, or in a food processor fitted with the plastic kneading blade. Add the olive oil, remaining water and the yeast mixture.
  3. Mix just until the dough comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding a little flour or a few drops of warm water if necessary, until you have a soft dough that is not sticky but is dry to the touch.
  4. Rub the inside of a large bowl to coat it with oil, then cut a shallow cross on the top of the ball with a sharp knife. Leave the dough in the bowl, cover with a tea towel or put it in a plastic bag and leave in a draught-free spot for 1 – 1½ hours until double in size (or leave in the fridge for 8 hours to rise slowly).
  5. Punch down the dough to its original size, then divide into two portions (At this stage the dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 hours, or frozen. Bring back to room temperature before continuing.)
  6. Working with one portion at a time, push the dough out to make a thick circle. Use the heels of your hands and work from the centre of the circle outwards, to flatten the dough into a 30cm circle with a slightly raised rim. (If you find it difficult to push the dough out by hand you can use a rolling pin.)
  7. Place the dough on a lightly oiled tray dusted with cornmeal, add your favourite toppings and get it into the oven, pre-heated to 240˚C, as quickly as possible.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Notes:

  • Source: The food of Italy (2000) J Price (ed) (Murdoch Books) p 281

Oh, and for those looking for fresh yeast down our way, Manny’s Market in Traralgon is the place to go.

Until next time…

Happy  cooking & bon appétit!

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Apples for pie

A couple of months ago we visited Picnic Point Apple Orchard, about an hour’s drive from here, to pick up some new season’s apples. We purchased a box of Picnic Apples, which were very juicy, but the flavour was not as intense as I expected.

We decided to store them in a cupboard in the hallway of our home, and as time went by you would catch the delicious aroma of apples as you passed by. They softened a little, but cooked up well and held their shape, which I was thrilled with.

With that in mind, I decided to preserve them, there is no room in the freezer, so they had to go into jars. On Tuesday I set to peeling, coring and quartering them. They were then added to pots with sugar, water and lemon juice and cooked until just tender. After leaving them to cool over night,

I packed them into jars, before sealing and waterbathing them ready for use in pies and other apple treats throughout the year. As I said to Gary, all I need to do is take a jar of apples, roll out some pastry, maybe add some rhubarb from the garden, bake it and we have a quick, easy and delicious dessert.

Before the apples were bottled, I decided that we needed a treat! First I removed some apples from the pot and set them in a strainer over a dish to drain off all the liquid  Then I rolled out some gluten free sweet shortcrust pastry and prepared a delicious dessert for our evening meal. I think that apple pie has to be one of the most comforting, homely desserts one can ask for. Add some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of luscious double cream and you’re set.

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Sweet Shortcrust Pastry - Gluten Free

  • Servings: makes one large tart which serves 8
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The perfect pastry for making your favourite fruit pie or delicious little lemon curd tarts.

Ingredients

  • 210 g Gluten free flour blend
  • 70 g pure icing sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 100 g ricotta cheese, drained (or homemade cheese)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Directions

  1. Add the flour, icing sugar and xanthum gum to a bowl and mix together.
  2. Place the butter, cheese, egg yolk and vanilla into the bowl of a food processor and then add the dry ingredients.
  3. Pulse only until the dough starts to form a ball.. (TM speed 3, 20 seconds)
  4. Remove the dough to a large sheet of baking paper or a pastry sheet and knead to form a smooth ball.
  5. Divide the dough in half and flatten into two discs.
  6. Cover each disc closely with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Notes:

  • You can store the dough in the fridge for up to two days, or freeze it until needed.
  • If you have time, make a batch and freeze it for when you need to whip up a quick tart or pie.
  • I always blind bake the tart base for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 200˚C, then add the fruit and if required a pastry lid, before continuing baking.

The other benefit of having jars of delicious apples in the store, is that you have a quick delicious breakfast treat when served with some natural yoghurt and crunchy gluten free granola!

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Until next time…

Happy  cooking & bon appétit!

 

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Crunchy gluten free granola

Gluten free flour blend

Sweet shortcrust pastry – gluten free

Another Garden!

While I have been a little quiet of late, I haven’t been idle! Earlier this year I started to do some voluntary work at a local community hub in nearby Stratford. This little hub called Segue, combines a café, gallery and shop where you can purchase handcrafted goods produced by local artists. There is also a bookroom and a little rummage and rescue room as well.

When you approach the entrance to Segue you will notice a long narrow alley that runs between two buildings, this is where you might find me working. In this alley there are plantings of various vegetables, fresh herbs and flowers, but at this time of year the garden is looking a little bare. That being said there is a good supply of rhubarb and kale, and plenty of different mints to select from. Over the last couple of weeks, the gardens have been dug over, composted manure added, and finally some plantings for the winter, mainly brassicas, but also some peas and snow peas along a brick wall, where they will benefit from the winter sun, and broad beans where the tomatoes were planted, to help improve the soil.

In preparing the soil, the Jerusalem artichokes were lifted. Having never eaten or cooked Jerusalem artichokes before so I started scouring recipe books for ideas. They are said to be similar to potatoes, but with a nutty flavour. I finally decided to make a soup. As I was making it, new ideas popped into my head, and the final result was absolutely delicious – we will certainly be having this again.

Jerusalem Artichokes - 2

Freshly dug Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Bacon

This recipe was created with fond memories of my late brother-in-law, Bruce - he just loved Jerusalem artichokes. I think he might have enjoyed a bowl or two.

Ingredients

  • 500g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 250 diced brown onion
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 35g butter
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 100g bacon, cut into julienne
  • 10g chives, finely chopped, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt & pepper
  • Double cream for serving

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium/low heat.
  2. Add the onion and celery and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is tender.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Then add the artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the artichokes are soft.
  6. Meanwhile fry the bacon in a frying pan until crispy.
  7. When the artichokes are soft, puree the soup until it is smooth and creamy.
  8. Add chives and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and stir through.
  9. Season to taste with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  10. Serve in individual dishes and top each with a teaspoonful of double cream, some crispy fried bacon, chopped chives and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese

Notes:

  • Time involved:
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 40 minutes
    • Serving Time: 5 Minutes

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I have two large boxes of Jerusalem artichokes sitting in our garage, and over the next couple of days they will be cleaned, sorted and bagged because, another thing that I have taken on at Segue is the weekend produce and plant table. The table is normally set up on a Saturday morning, just out the front, but this weekend it will be on Sunday, as it is the annual Shakespeare Festival. I have prepared bags with a copy of the recipe for the soup attached to the front, and will have them on the table for anyone who is interested. The produce sold from the table is all home grown and very, reasonably priced. I am also hoping that we will have plenty of kale and rhubarb to offer along with other bits and pieces and some pot plants too.

So if you are every passing through Stratford, that’s Stratford in Victoria, Australia, take a break and come on in, have a coffee, or just take a wander through the garden. You never know, you might even see me there…

Until next time…

Happy gardening, happy cooking & bon appétit!

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Massaman Curry with Beef

This is the final recipe for my Thai Banquet! Massaman Curry with Beef is a little different to the curries you may be expecting from Thailand.  It is a delicious rich curry that can be used as part of a Thai Banquet, equally what we like to do, particularly during the colder months, is to cook the meat in the delicious rich spicy sauce and serve it with hot creamy mashed potato…

While you can use a store bought Massaman curry paste, you can also make your own and I have added a link to my version, just in case you want to start from scratch.  The paste is enough to make several batches of curry and can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks, or frozen in individual portions for use at a later date.

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Massaman Curry with Beef

This is one of the more hearty curries from Thailand. It's a little different to what you might expect of a Thai Curry...

Ingredients

  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10 cardamon seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs massaman curry paste
  • 800 g gravy beef
  • 410 ml coconut milk
  • 250 ml beef stock
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch pieces
  • 2 cm piece of ginger, shredded
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 3 tbs palm sugar
  • 90 g roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 3 tbs tamarind puree
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • Fresh coriander, to serve

Directions

  1. Dry-fry the cinnamon stick, cardamon seeds and cloves in a wok over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  2. Add the oil to the wok and stir-fry the massaman paste over a medium heat for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Add the beef to the pan and fry for 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk, stock, potatoes, ginger, fish sauce, palm sugar, the roasted peanuts, tamarind puree and the dry-fried spices. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 50 to 60 minutes until the meat is tender and the potatoes are just cooked. Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Add the kaffir lime leaves and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with the fresh coriander leaves.

Notes:

  • You can make your own massaman curry paste, or you can buy the paste ready made in the Asian food aisle at the supermarket.
  • I like to tie the whole spices in a piece of muslin so that they can be easily removed before serving.
  • Adapted from The Food of Thailand, p155

While there are many other dishes that could be used, this is a nice start.  Prepare all of the food to be served at the same time.  Place bowls or platters of each in the middle of the table together with a nice large bowl of steamed jasmine rice, then sit down relax and enjoy your time with family and/or friends.  No jumping up and down and bringing out different courses… Just relax, eat and talk, and also, maybe, enjoy a nice glass of wine as well.  To finish the meal, all that is required is a lovely platter of fresh fruit, which can be prepared and waiting in the fridge…

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So to recount, we have Tom Yam Goong (Spicy Prawn & Lemongrass Soup), Tod Man Goong (Thai Prawn Cakes), Som Tam Salad (Green Pawpaw/Mango Salad), Massaman Curry with Beef, and a large bowl of jasmine rice.

Until next time…

Happy Cooking & Bon appétit!

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Som Tam Salad (Green Pawpaw/Mango Salad)

Som Tam is Green Pawpaw salad that originated in the north-east of Thailand (although some argue that it is actually from Laos). The wonderful, refreshing combination of sweet, hot, sour, salty and bitter is amazing and leaves you reaching for more, particularly on a hot summer’s day.  This salad is Thailand on a plate.

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Som Tam Salad (Green Pawpaw/Mango Salad)

This recipe is based on the Thai Salad, Som Tam, a dish that originated in north-east Thailand, but is now popular throughout the country, and also abroad. Normally served with sticky rice, we enjoy it served with Tod Man Goong (Thai Prawn Cakes).

Ingredients

  • 3 green mangoes
  • 150 g green beans, sliced and blanched
  • 250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, roasted and crushed
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to serve

For the dressing:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 golden shallot, chopped
  • 60 ml lime juice

Directions

  1. Peel the green mango and cut the flesh into long thin strands, if you have a mandolin, use the fine julienne or grater attachment.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, shallots, and chillies into a paste.
  3. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and carefully mix to combine. Set aside.
  4. Combine the mango, beans and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl.
  5. Add the dressing and, using your hands, toss gently.
  6. Pile onto a large serving platter and sprinkle over the crushed peanuts and coriander leaves.

Until next time…

Happy Cooking & Bon appétit!

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