first

January 13, 2019
paninigirl

5 comments

Experimenting with Sourdough Starter

rolls

I have a bread thing going on. About a month ago I was gifted some thirty year old “starter” and since then I’ve baked more bread than I have in years. I’m still in the experimental stage as I’ve only ever baked with dry packaged yeast. My first few attempts were sourdough loaves which turned out pretty good (see below), although they took the greater part of a day to rise and bake (not counting making the “leaven” the day before).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also baked Pane di Como Antico (Como Bread of the Past) from the wonderful book by Carol Field- The Italian Baker– and it may look a bit like ciabatta, but it’s quite different with it’s very crunchy crust and chewy interior.  I used it for mushroom bruschetta which we loved it.pane

As for the semelle rolls (pictured at the top of the post), well they have a great crusty exterior, but I think I should have used a little more of the starter. They didn’t rise as much as I would have liked and had a somewhat dense interior. That being said, while they were still warm I broke one open and slathered a little butter on and it was pretty tasty.

So, if you are a baker and have experience with sourdough starter I’d love some input. I’m unsure how much I should be using in replacement of dry yeast. Since I started writing this I’ve done a little reading about replacing yeast with starter and it’s not as simple as I had hoped-you have to decrease the amount of both water and flour in your original recipe and there’s most certainly a longer rise time involved.

My next attempt will focaccia stuffed with cheese-this is a bread my grandmother used to make and so I’ll be baking this from a memory-we shall see! I think I’ll stick with dry yeast this time.

Semelle Rolls (from The Italian Baker)

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package / 0.2 oz / 7 g) active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups (10.5 oz / 300 g) warm water

3 3/4 cups (17.5 oz / 500 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons (0.4 oz / 10 g) salt

Olive oil for brushing

By Hand
Stir the yeast into the water in a mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 
10 minutes. Stir in the flour, 1 cup at a time, and the salt. When the dough is too stiff to stir, plunge in with your hands. Knead on a lightly floured work surface until solid and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

 

By Mixer
Stir the yeast into the water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix with the paddle until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead until solid and elastic, 3 to 4 minutes.

 

First Rise: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shaping and Second Rise: Cut the dough into ten equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Brush a little oil over each and let rest 10 minutes under a towel. With the edge of your hand, make a deep indentation down the center of each ball; be sure to press down firmly. Place the rolls, cleft side down, on floured parchment or brown paper. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Baking: Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Just before baking, turn each roll over and reemphasize the cleft. Place the rolls, cleft side up, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, spraying the oven three times with water in the first 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Panini Girl In Lucca May 2019-there’s one spot left-come along!

paninigirl4@gmail.com

 

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December 15, 2018
paninigirl

3 comments

Seedy Crackers

crackers

Looking for a homemade Christmas gift? I always bake a variety of cookies at this time of the year, but then again so does everyone else. I decided that instead it might be nice to make something savory to give to friends.

I know it looks like there’s a lot of steps involved with this recipe, but it’s not at all difficult. Mixing the dough can be done with a wooden spoon and there’s really no kneading involved. If you’ve ever made pasta with a pasta machine the rolling of the dough is exactly the same.

Go to your favorite cheese shop, pick up a wedge of your favorite cheese or perhaps a nice creamy triple creme and paired with these crackers you’ve got a tasty treat to share with your friends or neighbors. If you happen to shop at Trader Joes they have the most delectable French cheese called Fromage Pavé. They only carry it during the month of December, so don’t waste any time!

Seedy Crackers (recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini)

150 grams (5 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

150 grams (5 1/3 ounces) fine semolina flour (if you can’t find semolina flour, just use all regular flour)

20 grams (3 tablespoons) toasted sesame seeds

15 grams (2 tablespoons) poppy seeds

7 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) fine sea salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

120 ml (1/2 cup) water

Place the flours, seeds and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and stir it in with a fork. Add the water and mix it in.

When the water is absorbed, turn the mixture out on a clean work surface and knead the dough gently to gather into a smooth ball. Add a touch more water if the dough feels too dry to come together, but the consistency you’re shooting for is smooth, not at all sticky or tacky.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces of (roughly) equal size, and cover with a kitchen towel.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mats — this is so you can bake two batches of crackers at a time, but if you only have one baking sheet, that’s fine, too. If you have a rectangular or square bread stone, place it in the oven as it preheats; you’ll need only one baking sheet in addition to the stone then.

Take one piece of dough (keep the others covered to prevent them from drying out) and flatten it into an oval disk between the palms of your hands. Set a pasta roller on the widest setting, and slip the disk of dough in the roller to thin it out. Fold the strip of dough in half so the two short sides meet, and slip the dough into the roller again, fold in first. Repeat 3 or 4 times until the dough feels supple; you are essentially kneading the dough in the process. If it gets sticky at any point, dust it with a little flour.

Switch the pasta roller to the next (= narrower) setting and slip the dough in (just once this time) to thin it out. Repeat with the subsequent settings until you get a thin, long rectangularish sheet of dough. (On my pasta roller, it’s setting 5, out of 9 total.) Place it on one of the prepared baking sheets, or a flour-dusted peel if you’re using a bread stone.

(If you don’t have a pasta roller, perhaps you can borrow one from a friend? Otherwise, roll up your sleeves, whip out your rolling pin, and roll the dough out as thinly as you can.)

Repeat with more pieces of dough until there is no room left on your baking sheets. Using a dough cutter, a pastry wheel or just a knife, score the sheets of dough into square or triangular pieces.

Insert the baking sheets into the oven (or, if you’re using a pizza stone, slide the dough in using the pizza peel) and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden to golden brown. It’s nice to bake each batch of crackers to a slightly different shade of golden because that will result in slightly different flavors.

Transfer to a cooling rack, and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Panini Girl In Lucca May 2019 (1 spot left) paninigirl4@gmail.com

What a great gift for the Italophile in your life!

 

December 2, 2018
paninigirl

3 comments

Shortbread-Easy As One, Two, Three

cookies

I’ve been trying to recreate a cookie that I am suddenly addicted to from our favorite local bakery- Prager Brothers. Started by two brothers the bakery originally sold only bread, but has expanded into  pastries, cookies and sandwiches as well. These guys are true artisans and even mill their wheat right there in the shop. I wouldn’t buy my bread anywhere else.

Now about those cookies-they are a buttery shortbread with a hint of salt and I have to stop myself from eating more than one at a time. I’ve tried various recipes, but so far none have come close.

I’m posting this recipe that I found on line as it is super easy and is a good shortbread cookie, however I am still on the search for the Prager recipe. I did notice on their website that there’s whole wheat flour in their cookie. Next I may try this cookie from Alice Medrich, but without the nuts.

Ingredients

1 cup ( 8oz/240g) ) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (2oz/60g)) powdered sugar, sifted

2 cups (10oz/300g)) all purpose flour

1 egg white beaten

Sanding sugar

 

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350o F (180oC) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl cream together the soft butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the flour and mix until the dough just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a counter dusted with powdered sugar and gently roll the dough into a long two by two inch log. Wrap the log of cookie dough in plastic wrap and allow to firm up in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once the dough is firm slice the cookies into 3/4 inch thick rounds. Beat the egg white until frothy. Brush the rim of each cookie with the egg wash and then roll edge in sanding sugar. Place each round on your baking tray and bake for 16-18 minutes or until just golden. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.
 Once cool the cookies can be stored in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
Panini Girl In Lucca May 2019 (one spot left) paninigirl4@gmail.com

November 25, 2018
paninigirl

4 comments

Apple Almond Galette

crostata

I had intended to post this recipe before Thanksgiving, but somehow the time got away from me. At any rate there’s still plenty of time to prepare and serve this tasty tart during the holiday season.

This crust is buttery and flaky and if you omit the sugar is perfect for a savory tart such as this tomato  filled one.

 Apple Almond Galette (adapted from Alexandra Kitchen)
Crust

 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 sick (8 oz.) plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

About 1/4 cup ice water

In a bowl toss flour with salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using a fork, stir in the ice water by tablespoons until the dough holds together when pressed. Sprinkle in more water if needed. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap well and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before rolling out.

Almond Filling

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tablespoons sugar

pinch salt

2 tablespoons butter at room temperature

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine almond flour, sugar, salt, butter and egg in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until combined, then add vanilla. Purée until smooth.

for assembly

1-2 apples-honey crisp, granny smith or fuji,  peeled and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, turbinado or sanding sugar if you have it

1 egg beaten with a little water

vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12- or 13-inch round. Use as much flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking, and every few rolls, flip the dough over. Transfer dough to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spoon the almond filling into the center leaving a 1 inch border.

Arrange apple slices in concentric circles starting at the outer edge of the filling. Fold the exposed edge of the dough up over the filling. Brush the edge of the dough with the beaten egg wash. Drizzle the butter over the exposed apples. Sprinkle the sugar around the crust and over the apples.

Bake the  galette for 35 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream. Serves: 8

apple

 

 

November 2, 2018
paninigirl

5 comments

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

soup

The very first time that I ate this soup was on a stormy night in  Boston. Rain was coming down sideways and we were just a few degrees away from snow. I was searching for a friend’s apartment while trying to hold on to an umbrella that threatened to blow away.  I finally found her door and stepped into  the most charming room with a wooden beamed ceiling. The house was tiny, having been built in the 1700’s, and was right down the street from Bunker Hill (as in the Battle of…). In the corner a fire was roaring and candles flickered on an antique wooden table. The scent of curry and onions filled the room.  All at once I forgot about the storm raging outside and and settled into a cozy chair with a big glass of red wine.

At this point in my cooking life I had not had much (or any) experience with curry. The sweetness of the squash and the heat of the curry were offset by the  grating of a  tangy apple. I was instantly won over and had to ask for the recipe. Turns out it came from one of the most popular cookbooks of the time-The Silver Palate Cookbook. This cookbook was like a bible to me back in the day. My copy was so well worn that it fell apart and I had to buy a new one. To this day I still turn to this book and am never disappointed with whatever I make. This curried butternut soup may be my favorite.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped onions
4-5 teaspoons curry powder
2 medium size butternut squash (about 3 pounds) peeled, seeds discarded and flesh chopped
2 apples, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple juice (or 1/2 cup apple cider)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 shredded, unpeeled apple for garnish

Melt butter in pot and add chopped onions and curry powder and cook, covered over low heat until onions are tender, about 20 minutes. When tender pour in stock, add squash and chopped apple and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until squash and apples are tender, about 25 minutes.
Pour soup through a strainer and reserve solids. Add 1 cup of cooking stock to solids and puree (in either food processor or use hand held blender) until smooth. Return to pot and add apple juice and about 2 cups more cooking liquid (depending on the consistency you like). Season to taste with salt and pepper, simmer briefly to heat. Serve with a garnish of shredded apple. Serves 4-6.

Panini Girl Food Tour In Lucca May 2019

September 22, 2018
paninigirl

4 comments

Tillie’s Rolls

iced

You might be wondering who is Tillie and why am I making her rolls? Well I’ve had cinnamon rolls on the brain for the past few weeks and had been checking out various recipes when I came across a card in my massive recipe file that was titled “Tillie’s Never Fail Rolls”. I’ve never met Tillie. She was from Kansas and the grandmother of an old friend of mine. The card was actually stuck on a recipe for french bread that I baked earlier in the week. It was well worn and looking at it brought back memories of baking in my teeny tiny kitchen (it was so small that when I opened the fridge I had to back up into the living room) many years ago when I lived in Denver.

dough

It’s been years since I used this recipe and I had forgotten how easy it is to work with this dough. Next time I think I might sprinkle some sesame seeds over the dinner rolls before baking or make a savory batch of “cinnamon rolls”-spreading the dough with sautéed scallions and and a little cheddar cheese, then rolling and slicing.

 

 

 

 

Never Fail Rolls

2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup sugar

2 packages yeast

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all together and beat until smooth. I did this by hand with a wooden spoon.

Add:

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4-1/2 cups flour

Beat together. I used the kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook for about 3 minutes. If you are kneading by hand you will want to knead until you have a very smooth dough, probably about 6  minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 40 minutes.

Tillie’s recipe says “roll into any shape you desire, place in pan and let rise for 40 minutes”. At this point I divided the dough in half and formed balls for dinner rolls and placed in a round, buttered cake pan. I took the other half, rolled it into a rectangle, brushed it with melted butter, covered it with cinnamon, sugar and chopped pecans,  then rolled the dough into a log and then sliced it into individual rolls and placed in a buttered pan and let them rise for 40 minutes. Take a look at the photo above on the left. Preheat oven to 400 degrees,

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

***I halved the recipe for the dough and made 7 dinner rolls and 10 cinnamon rolls.

Frosting for the cinnamon rolls: 

4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-6 tablespoons hot water

Mix butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency. Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

 

 

Panini Girl Food Tour In Lucca May 2019

paninigirl4@gmail.com  e mail me with any questions

 

 

September 10, 2018
paninigirl

4 comments

Granola-Genius Recipe

granola

I’m not sure why, but it’s been quite a while since I made this granola. A few years ago I started making this for gifts and found that I didn’t want to give it away-it was just too good. I know you’re probably thinking that granola is granola, but this one is by far the tastiest that I’ve ever tried. Eaten out of hand or swimming in a bowl of cold milk it’s hard to have just one serving. Sweet, without being cloying with just a hint of salt, there’s plenty of crunch. Once you’ve tried it feel free to vary the nuts and seeds that you use. I think dried cherries or cranberries would be a great addition.

The recipe comes from the Genius Recipes cookbook put out by the very talented crew at Food 52. I’m addicted to their website and it’s the first place I turn to when in search of a recipe.They’ve published a few cookbooks, but this one is a little bit different from the others. The idea behind this book is a good one-it’s a collection of special recipes from famous and lesser known chefs-recipes that may be simple, but with a new technique or with a familiar ingredient that is used in a new way. When I first thumbed through the book I thought “this is nice”, but when I actually sat down and started reading the recipes I realized the “genius” of this cookbook.  I’ve tried various recipes from the book and enjoyed ll of them, but this granola may just be my favorite.

 

baked

Granola

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1-1/4 cups pecans left whole or coarsely chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat oven to 300° F.

Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes. (I put parchment on the baking sheets)

Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Panini Girl Food Tour In Lucca May 2019 (3 spots available)

paninigirl4@gmail.com