Monday, December 29, 2008

Beetroot, Dill & Caraway Rye Bread

Joanna over at Gourmet Green Giraffe has a painful account of struggling with the directions to make this wonderful bread which she found in New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant. This is a beautiful bread to look at and to eat, the beetroot pieces glisten a vibrant ruby when you slice it. With the fragrances of dill, caraway and molasses, it can be difficult to decide if this is a sweet or savoury loaf - you choose, either way it is delicious. My apologies to everyone involved for further simplifying the method, I don't think it compromises the finished product too much and it is certainly easy to make doing it like this with the Thermomix. The most difficult part of the recipe is waiting for the dough to prove for two hours. And thanks to Joanna for bringing this one to the light of day. For a lighter bread grind up whole wheat, but if you are a dedicated rye lover then go with the whole rye grain and enjoy a heavier texture.
Beetroot, Dill & Caraway Rye bread
100g rye grain (or any other whole grain eg wheat or spelt)
1 beetroot (150-200g) peeled and quartered
15g fresh dill
2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
300g bakers flour
100g rye flour
40g blackstrap molasses
100g boiling water
100g room temperature water
20g olive oil
1 sachet of instant yeast (7grams)
1 teaspoon of salt

Measure grain into your thermomix bowl and mill on speed 10 for 40 seconds
Put the resulting flour to one side in a bowl.
Place your dill and beetroot in the Thermomix bowl and grate on speed 5 for 2 seconds or until it is coarsely grated.
Add blackstrap molasses, all the water, caraway seeds, flour, oil and salt (all the remaining ingredients) 
*Make sure you add the yeast last to avoid killing it with the boiling water
Mix on speed 5 for 10 seconds
Knead on interval setting (the wheat symbol) for 4 minutes
Add a tiny bit of room temperature water if you need to, but only add a small amount at a time, as it is easy for this dough to become quite sticky. 
Tip out the resulting dough and form into a ball by hand, clean the Thermomix blades by pulsing on turbo and collect the flicked out dough adding to the main mass.
Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, put your ball of dough in and cover with cling wrap (oil the cling wrap to prevent the dough sticking to to it. Leave in a warm spot eg a sunny windowsill for an hour. 
After an hour your dough should have doubled in size, knead it by hand briefly and slice the dough into three equal pieces. Form into three balls and tuck these into a large bread loaf tin. Sprinkle liberally with caraway seeds. Leave the tin for another hour covered by cling wrap that has been brushed or sprayed with olive oil on the inside surface. 
Preheat your oven to 200˚C and leave a heavy baking tray in the bottom to heat up as well.
After the second hour, the balls should have risen considerably, remove your cling wrap, splash with water. Handle the tin gently so as not to deflate the bread. boil the kettle.
As soon as you put the bread in the oven, pour a cup of boiling water in the hot baking tray at the bottom of the oven, shut the door quickly to keep the resulting steam inside.
Bake for about 45 minutes at 200˚C until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it and when a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Turn the loaf out onto a cake rack to cool. Don't slice this until it is completely cool.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Parmesan Grissini

It has been a little while since my last post, and I think these grissini are the perfect way to break the drought. This recipe is from Made in Italy: Food and Stories, the quite lovely book by Giorgio Locatelli. For me, Italian breadsticks are a promise of something more... an introduction to a leisurely meal in the shade on a sunny day, happy days with a cold glass of beer and an idle nibble on a grissini or two or three. It's not really a serious entree, just something to do while you unwind and wait for the real food to come along. 
And just as appealing is the impressive spectacle that these 40cm long, hand made beauties create. Knobbly, twisted golden brown sticks with a rustic untamed appearance that cannot fail to impress. A glass filled with these grissini in the centre of the table is indeed a beautiful sight and for this reason alone it is worth firing up the Thermomix and to start baking.

Parmesan Grissini
75g ungrated parmesan cheese
50g unsalted butter
200g whole milk
1 Packet of dried yeast
375g bakers flour
10g sea salt

Chop the parmesan into walnut sized cubes, place into the Thermomix bowl and grate on speed 10 for 4 seconds
Transfer the grated parmesan into a bowl and set aside
Rinse out the Thermomix bowl and dry

Place the butter in the Thermomix bowl and chop on speed 5 for 2 seconds.
Melt the chopped butter at 90 degrees on speed 1 for 2 minutes
Add 200g of whole milk and your Thermomix bowl temp should be registering 37 degrees
Add your packet of yeast, flour, salt and parmesan. Stir on speed five for 3 seconds
Now knead the mixture on interval setting (the wheat symbol) for 4 minutes. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and stretch into an A4 sized rectangle
Work your way over the entire surface of the dough making deep indentations with eight fingers at once.
When the surface of the dough is covered with indentations, fold it in half  turn it ninety degrees, stretch it out to an A4 sized rectangle and repeat the indentation making process again.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Turn on your oven now to 200 degrees.

Repeat the dimpling and folding process and leave to rise in the covered bowl again for another 30 minutes

Cut the dough in half and roll each half out into a large rectangle about 30cm or more on its long side.
Slice this rectangle of dough into 1cm wide strips, 30cm in length.

Now roll the strips one at a time on the work surface with your hands to form long thin sausages
Press down on one end to create a flattened spoon shape.(I don't know why)

Place on a non stick baking tray, big enough to accommodate your rather long breadsticks and rest them for 10 minutes.

Bake for ten to fifteen minutes until golden brown, keep checking them.

The result is truly magnificent, these grissini are totally impressive. Serve a bunch of these standing in a glass and watch them disappear.
Giorgio Locatelli says these breadsticks make great breadcrumbs, but we have never had any left over. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Spring is a great time for dips and salads, so today in celebration of the warm weather we had a salad. Roquette, cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum and tuna with lashings of babaganoush on top.
The best thing about cooking babaganoush is you get to be a bit primitive, charring the eggplant on the open flame. I remember my surprise at the smoky flavour of this dip on my first encounter and I'm not sure that I immediately loved it. But I char with gay abandon these days filling the kitchen with an aroma reminiscent of marijuahna burning (so I am told). 
The smoky richness of babaganoush goes well with salads, barbecued meat and fish, especially lamb or just plain old carrot sticks, pita bread or water crackers. 

1 medium to large eggplant (aubergine)
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 clove of garlic
75 grams tahini
75 grams olive oil
50 ml water
Half teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 large lemon

The smoky flavour of babaganoush is developed by placing a whole uncooked eggplant directly onto the gas flame of your stove top. Turn the flame on full and let the eggplant cook until it is charred on the underside then turning it over with a pair of kitchen tongs repeat the process on the other side. You will find the peeling process, which comes next, easier if the eggplant is well charred, so don't pull it off the stove too quickly.
Once this is done, put the charred eggplant aside in a bowl to cool 
Dry roast your cumin and coriander in a heavy based pan until they darken slightly and release their aroma. 
Place the seeds in the Thermomix bowl and grind on speed 10 for 60 seconds
Add the garlic and chop on speed 7 for 5 seconds or until evenly chopped
Now that the eggplant is cooled slightly, peel the charred skin away. Make sure that you leave as much of the browned layer beneath the charring as possible, this is where the flavour is. 
When you have removed all of the skin, cut off the stem and place the eggplant in the Thermomix bowl. 
Add the other ingredients ie tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, water
Blend on speed 5 for 30seconds.
Turn out into a bowl and sprinkle with soumak more for the decoration than for flavour
Eat whilst still warm (which I think is the only way to go) or at room temperature.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Za'atar Bread

They say you recognise soulmates from past lives by their smell. A hint of something familiar, alluring, attractive or comfortable caresses your nostrils, the earth moves and you remember. For the past week I had the flu and my sense of smell (and taste) deserted me.  I spilled half a bottle of tea tree oil on the floor and could smell nothing- no smell, nothing at all. I could have met a thousand soulmates and passed them by without a clue. So you can imagine that eating food was nothing like what it should have been either: salty, bitter, sour, sweet but nothing in between. What a strange world it is without smells, happily removed from and oblivious to the stinky things in life, but isolated from the pleasures that smell brings without really knowing it. Anyway my sense of smell is back and the richness of life awaits.

Za'atar is a herb mixture from the Middle east which is used to flavour kebabs, chicken, fetta cheese and more. However I know it best as the distinctive aromatic topping on Middle eastern herb bread. Za'atar lends piquancy and a herby aroma to the bread and it is very addictive. You have to love anything that starts with a Z don't you?
Soumak is the only ingredient which might be unknown to you. Well perhaps you might know it as the tangy red speckles on Arnott's barbecue shapes.  It is a crimson red powder with a sharp lemony tang and is available at the Queen Vic market or at middle eastern grocers. 

Za'atar Herb Mix
15 grams Sesame seeds toasted
35 grams Soumak powder
10 grams Oregano
10 grams Marjoram
10 grams Thyme
1 teaspoon Seasalt

For za'atar you will need to toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying-pan on the stove. The Thermomix isn't set up to cook at such high heat because of the damage this does to the food, but despite the damage, toasted seeds do taste very nice. Put the seeds in a cold pan and place over high heat, agitating the pan constantly to brown the contents without burning. When the seeds are toasted to a light brown remove them to the Thermomix bowl immediately to prevent burning.  
Empty your packets of herbs and the salt into the Thermomix bowl. I actually used packets of herbs that weighed 8 grams and didn't fuss about finding the extra 2 grams. 
Pulverise all of the ingredients on speed 10 for 30 seconds or until you have a fine powder.
Pour your za'atar powder into a screw top jar.

Za'atar Focaccia Bread
I followed the recipe from the Australian Thermomix Cookbook, but I did find I needed to add quite a bit of extra flour because the dough was sticky.
200 g boiled water
200g cold water
1 sachet of dry yeast
20g olive oil
500g white bakers flour
Pinch of salt

Place water in the Thermomix bowl add the oil then the yeast. Mix for 5 seconds on speed 6
Add flour and salt and mix for 20 seconds on speed 6
Set dial to closed lid position and knead for 2 minutes on interval speed
Add extra flour as the dough kneads if it feels sticky.
Remove dough from the Thermomix and leave covered in a warm place for up to 1 hour to rise.
After an hour take a large sheet of silicone baking paper and on it stretch your dough into an A4 sized rectangle.
Dip your fingers in flour to stop them sticking and press all eight fingers into the dough to make a line of indentations without going all the way through. Repeat until the entire rectangle is covered in indentations.
Fold the dough in half, stretch out to an A4 sized rectangle again and repeat the indentation process. 
Repeat two or three times and then leave the A4 sized rectangle with indentations covered with a teatowel or gladwrap to rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 220˚ C
Sprinkle the dough heavily with your za'atar powder and drizzle liberally with olive oil, don't hold back, the herb powder needs to be moist with the oil.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

We made tuna, rocquette, red capsicum and parmesan cheese sandwiches with this bread and they were magnificent.