Zucchini Frittata with Pea and Celery Salad

I think frittata is in my DNA. Growing up frittata showed up on the dinner table regularly and I didn’t always like it. All the other kids at school were eating fish and chips or roast lamb. We ate things they had never heard of and that was hard for a 70’s child. As well as frittata, we ate radicchio and fennel, polenta and risotto. Like frittata, these are all common place now and appear on menus and in cookbooks all over the country. As an adult I can appreciate the amazing upbringing I had with a foot in Italy and the other firmly planted in Australia. And now, I love frittata.

This one which is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe,  is perfectly fresh and light. And it’s green. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

 

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata with Pea and Celery Salad

3 smallish zucchini
4 or 5 swiss brown mushroom, sliced
1 tablespoon light olive oil
8 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 spring onions, sliced finely
a handful of fresh mint, shredded
a couple of sprig of thyme or a sprinkle of dried thyme
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
20-40g fetta
chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Pea and Celery salad

150g frozen peas
1 lime or lemon, juiced
extra virgin olive oil and salt
1 heart of celery, sliced

Frittata

Preheat oven to 180C. Grate the zucchini, season with salt and allow to stand for a few minutes before squeezing to get rid of excess liquid. Heat the oil in a non stick, ovensafe, fry pan over medium heat. Add the mushroom and fry for a minute or so before adding the zucchini. Fry for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Don’t overcook because you will lose the vibrancy of the vegetables. In the meantime, crack the eggs into a bowl, add cayenne, spring onions, mint, thyme and 2 tablespoons of parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and break up the eggs. When the zucchini and mushrooms are ready, pour the eggs over the vegetables stir then level the mixture out then sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Transfer to preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Sprinkle with crumbled fetta and chilli flakes to serve.

Salad

Steam or microwave the peas until just tender. Allow to cool slightly, then dress to taste with juice of lime or lemon, olive oil and salt. Stir through the celery.

 

Jamie Oliver inspired Asparagus Pasta

At the moment Australian grown spring asparagus are $1.00 per bunch! Yep, that’s correct…$1.00. And yes, they are beautiful. I do hope the farmer is benefits from the high sales of asparagus. Imagine how much work goes into growing, picking and packing asparagus!

I picked up 4 bunches the other day and put them to great use in a pasta. This is a very simple pasta dish based on this one by Jamie Oliver. I love the way Jamie Oliver uses ingredients and the flavours he puts together. Rarely do I completely follow the recipe but take inspiration from the idea of the dish. The recipe asks for 1 bunch of asparagus but where is that going to go? Maybe in England the bunches are larger. Definitely use more even four!


Jamie Oliver inspired Asparagus Pasta

So take four bunches of asparagus. Snap the woody ends and throw away. Wash under running water. Chop off the tender tops (about 3 or 4 cm) and reserve for later. Slice up the rest.

Heat up a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and gently fry the slice up asparagus with about 200g chopped pancetta or bacon.

When the asparagus is tender, crush with a fork. Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Jamie suggests egg tagliatelle which I didn’t have. These fusilli say “per i propri amici” – “for true friends”. What better true friends can a girl have than her family so fusilli for “true friends” it is.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water.
Two minutes before the pasta is done throw in the asparagus tips.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta (with the asparagus tips) to the pan of mashed asparagus goodness and toss to combine. Stir in as much parmesan cheese as you like and check the seasoning.
Serve and enjoy!

Piroshki – Two challenges in one!

This month in the Daring Kitchen we were challenged to make Piroshki by Sara at Sassy Suppers.

Sara tells us that …”according to Anne Volokh in her book The Art of Russian Cuisine, pirozhki have been sold as street food since Peter the Great’s time. They have also been served during elaborate banquets both in Russia and Paris. At the turn of the century, one could find fabulous pirozhki at the Filippov Bakery. The hand-held fried pies would be stuffed with all sorts of things . . . meat, mushrooms, rice, eggs, cheese and jam. Pirozhki are still sold on the street in Russian cities today and many a home baker has a favorite recipe.”

I have also been waiting to try a couple of piroshki recipes from that great book by Greg PatentA Baker’s Odyssey” so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try baking and frying piroshki in a Piroshki Fest! This is adds to my personal challenge of baking through A Baker’s Odyssey with recipe #45 and #46.


A Baker’s Odyssey provides two fried piroshki recipes one of beef and the other mushroom.  A yeast dough is generally used for fried piroshki. In this case the dough for the mushroom piroshki was sweetened with a little sugar.

I used the gorgeous sour cream pastry provided by Sara in our Daring Kitchen challenge to bake Beef Piroshki using the beef filling in A Baker’s Odyssey. With the remaining beef filling I made fried piroshki. And to complete the Piroshki Fest, Lithuanian Mushroom Piroshki from A Baker’s Odyssey completed the meal!

Yep, I was all piroshki-ed out by the end. The verdict – Beef Piroshki filling from A Baker’s Odyssey is moist and delicious and is a perfect combination with the sour cream pastry or fried in yeast pastry.

For the sour cream pastry recipe please click here but this time I won’t provide the two recipes from A Baker’s Odyssey…just a little incentive to buy a copy for yourself! If you would like to join us next month in the Daring Kitchen check it out here for yourself

The sour cream pastry was rolled very thinly before being topped with the beef filling, folded and sealed ready for baking.

The yeast dough was soft and tender and easy to work with.

Little pillows of goodness encased in sour cream pastry were crimped around the edges.

My fried piroshki browned very quickly due to the sugar content in the yeast dough but the tender dough was cooked through. This minced beef filling was moist and flavorful with hints of thyme and dill.

These baked piroshki were deliciously moreish with golden, flaky pastry.

With a dab of sour cream they were perfect.

Spinach and Cheese Katmer Pie

I’m not a very competitive person but when it comes to cooking and baking I’m always tempted by a challenge which is why I back in 2009 I joined the Daring Bakers. Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks belonged to the online baking group The Daring Kitchen. Over the years the group has grown and together learnt many challenging techniques and discovered wonderful recipes from around the world. As we move forward this year, we have condensed to just one group The Daring Kitchen which may present baking as well as cooking challenges. I notice that this group’s popularity is waning a little. Maybe it’s had it’s day, maybe there are no more challenges exciting enough (I doubt that!) or maybe this is just a lull. Or perhaps like me life is busy and it becomes more and more difficult to bake and post challenges as much as one would like. In any case I do still enjoy the challenges and I have good intentions of baking and posting on time, even if it doesn’t happen often.

This month Milkica from Mimi’s Kingdom  presented a recipe for Katmer pie. This is a traditional recipe from southern Serbia which can be made with either a savoury or sweet filling. Katmer pastry is an old variation of puff pastry usually made with lard but other options are available such as butter or oil. I found the pastry quite easy but mine pie didn’t have the puff and layers it should have so maybe I did something wrong! It was delicious though filled with spinach and cheese.  Many thanks to Milkica for introducing a traditional recipe from Serbia.

Katmer Pie with Spinach and Cheese

Dough

Servings:

One large pie baked in a dish approximately 16 x 16” / 40 x 40cm (enough for family of six)

Ingredients

4 cups spooned & scraped / 500g all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups / 300 – 350ml warm water
More all-purpose (plain) flour for dusting
2 – 3 tablespoons / 30 – 45g soft lard

Directions:

1. Measure all purpose flour, warm water and salt. Put lard in a small bowl and leave on a warm place.

2. Mix all ingredients except lard in glass or plastic bowl. You will have relatively soft dough.

3. Transfer dough on a floured surface and knead it a little until you achieve elastic, but soft dough.

4. Dough should look as on this picture. Maybe you’ll need additional 6 tablespoons / 50g of flour.

5. Divide dough in six equal pieces and shape every piece in round form. Leave them to rest 10 minutes.

6. Using rolling pin roll every piece of dough into flat, round shape, approximately 1/8” / 3 – 4mm thick. Divide pieces in two groups of three. Brush first piece of dough with melted lard and cover with another piece of dough. Brush second piece of dough with lard and cover with third piece. Do not brush this third piece of dough with lard! Repeat the same with another three pieces of dough.

7. You will have two piles of dough pieces. Leave them again to rest for 10 minutes.

8. Roll every pile using rolling pin into round shape, approximately 1/4 – 1/3” / 5 – 8mm thick.

 9. Using sharp knife make eight cuts around the formed circle

10. Brush surface with melted lard.

11. Fold brushed, cut petals into middle part of dough

12. Continue until you fold all eight of them.

13. Turn the dough so the folded parts are underneath. Do the same with another pile of dough. Leave both pieces of dough to rest until you prepare the filling.

Spinach and Cheese Filling

Given recipe yields enough for one Katmer pie.

Ingredients

1 pound / 500g spinach
2 cups / 500g soft cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 cup grated tasty cheese
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt (amount depends on cheese you use, you should try prepared filling and add more salt if necessary)

Directions:

1. Prepare all ingredients.
2. Cut spinach into strips and steam until softened. Cool and place it in bowl. Add remaining ingredients

 3. Mix all ingredients using spoon or your hands. Filling one is ready.

To assemble pie:

1. Turn on your oven on 350F / 180C / Gas Mark 4. Roll one of the pieces of dough on lightly floured surface into large, square or rectangular shape to fit your baking tin.

2. Transfer layer of dough on baking tin brushed with melted lard.

3. Arrange your filling all over the first layer of dough.

4. Roll out the other piece of dough and transfer it to baking tin, covering filling completely. Press edges with your fingers to stick together.

5. Brush surface of pie with melted lard.

6. Cut whole pie into small square pieces.  Bake pie in preheated oven around 30 minutes until deep golden in color.

Yafawi Sfeeha – July 2015 daring bakers’ challenge




The July daring Baker’s Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup of salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.


This month we were introduced to an authentic filled pastry from Palestine by our host Manal from Manal’s Bites. The tender dough is stretched thinly with ghee then filled, rolled and baked to produce delicious savoury or sweet pastries. First I tackled the meat filling using beef however the recipe require 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses. Checking out the price in the store I found a bottle of pomegranate molasses retailed at AUD$17.00! Eeeeekkkk! But I did find a bottle of pomegranate juice for AUD$4.00 at the supermarket so with the juice in hand I googled and produced my own pomegranate molasses. I’m not sure if I could detect the flavour in the finished pastries but just the look of the sticky, shiny molasses made me feel good!

Next I made Sweet Walnut Sfeeha dusted with sugar. I think they should have been dunked in the sugar syrup because they were a bit dry. Nice with a cup of tea, though!

Many thanks to our host, Manal and please check out more Yafawi Sfeeha here at Daring Bakers’!

Pomagranate Molasses (based on this recipe from Tori Avey)

  • 2 cups pure 100% pomegranate juice (bottled or fresh)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 40mls freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat up over medium until the sauce begins to simmer lightly. Stir to dissolve sugar. Allow the liquid to simmer very lightly for 40 – 60 minutes, stirring every regularly, until the liquid reduces by 75%.
The molasses will be ready when it has a light syrupy consistency and coats the back of a spoon. Don’t let it thicken too much, or it will harden into toffee when it cools.
Remove from heat. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.
After the syrup cools completely, store it in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Yafawi Sfeeha
Servings: 15-18 pieces
Ingredients:
To make the dough:
3 cups (750 ml) (420 gm) (15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, scoop flour using cup measure then level
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 ml) powdered milk (you can substitute this with warm milk, you will need less water if using milk)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
About 1 cup (250 ml) warm water for kneading
Melted ghee (or olive oil) to stretch the dough (ghee gives a great texture and flavor).
Directions:
1.Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil then start adding the warm water until you get a tender and slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 min on a stand-up mixer or 12 min by hand. you might need more depending on where you live and the kind of flour you are using).
2.Form the dough into small golf-ball-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet that is very well greased with ghee or olive oil and pour some more (oil or ghee) over dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for few hours at least (or overnight).
3.Prepare filling in the meantime.

Meat filling
Ingredients:

1 pound (500 grams) ground beef, lamb or a mix of both
1 medium onion, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Middle Eastern 7 spice blend ( recipe here) or you can just use ½ teaspoon all-spice and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.)
1 teaspoon sumaq (A Middle Eastern deep red colored and sour flavored spice) (or substitute with ¾ teaspoon lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon pepper)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (see my homemade molasses above)
½ cup (120 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) toasted pine nuts (optional)

Directions:

In a skillet over medium heat, cook meat until no longer pink and water has evaporated, add onion and cook till it becomes tender (around 3 minutes). Season the mixture and add spices; it will be very fragrant now. Remove off heat and add sumaq and pomegranate molasses. Add toasted pine nuts if using. Let the filling cool completely before stuffing Sfeeha

After you have your filling ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray (the surface that you will be working on). Take one piece of dough and using your hands, gently start spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible.

Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle, then fold the opposite side to the middle as well.

Spread your filling in a long line across the dough. Roll like a long tight rope making sure that it is tight enough to ensure no filling escapes.

 Then taking one end start rolling the rope towards the inside in a spiral shape

Put some more ghee on your baking sheet and place the done Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of your Sfeeha using ghee to keep it nice and moist.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake Sfeeha for 15-20 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a bowl of soup during winter or a salad and Greek yogurt in summer time.

Sweet Walnut Sfeeha

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped, (you can use any sort of nut you wish)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ tablespoon orange blossom water
½ tablespoon rose water

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and your filling is done.

For serving: Powdered sugar or sugar syrup

Sugar Syrup

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) (400 gm) (14 oz) sugar
1½ cup (375 ml) water
Juice of half a lemon
½ tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)

Directions:

Mix sugar and water over high heat in a stainless steel pot. Don’t stir. Once it comes to a boil stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all sugar is dissolved. Add lemon juice and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Remove off heat and add orange blossom water if using.

Note: Once you have the sweet ones baked and hot pour some cold sugar syrup over them or let them cool off and dust with powdered sugar..

I dusted mine with powdered sugar.

Zucchini, Dried Tomato and Black Olive Charlotte – Daring Bakers Challenge June 2015

For the June daring bakers challenge Rebecca from BakeNQuilt.com challenged us to make Charlotte Royale and Charlotte Russe from scratch. Savory or sweet Charlottes were definitely tasty

Better late than never, they say…don’t they?

This is a very late post for the June Daring Bakers challenge which should have been revealed on our blogs on the 27th June. However life again got in the way. As much as I love my blog and the wonderful online baking group I belong to sometimes I need to let things go so that my life is less stressed. This was one of those months. Can anyone give me tips on quick blogging?



In June we were required to make a Charlotte Royale or Russe or a Savory Charlotte. The Charlotte Russe looked delicious but I didn’t really have an occasion to produce such a dessert and consuming it all ourselves was not going to happen so I decided on a savoury Charlotte to accompany lunch. The combination of flavours are classic and work well together. You can see the other Daring Bakers’ Charlottes  here. Many thanks to our host Rebecca.
PS. Sorry I am so late!



Zucchini, Sun dried Tomato and Black Olive Charlotte
 showstopper
3 medium zucchini, sliced 3mm thick
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic

Filling:-
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 grated lemon rind
1/2 cup sour cream
8 basil leaves, finely shredded
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 cup diced, dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup diced black olives
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
pinch of salt or to taste

Mix the zucchini with the oil, salt and garlic. Fry or grill on a griddle pan until pliable but not too soft. Set aside to cool.

For the filling.
Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the lemon juice, rind and sour cream. Fold through remaining ingredients.

Take a 1 litre bowl. Line with plastic wrap. Start arranging the zucchini slices in the bottom of the bowl.

 Add a bit of the filling as you go so that the zucchini slices don’t collapse in. Arrange more zucchini slices and filling as you go until it is all used.

 Fold the top zucchini slices over the filling and lay more zucchini slices to completely cover the filling.

Bring over the plastic wrap to cover the charlotte. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours until filling is set.

Turn the charlotte out onto a serving platter, remove the plastic wrap and serve with crusty bread.

 

Tomato Tarte Tartin -Daring Bakers’ March 2015



 For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.


Do you love anything pastry?
I always have. As a child I remember scraping out the filling to eat  just the pastry. As an adult I still think the pastry is the best part so when Korena challenged us to Tarte Tartin I was a very happy lady. I have previously tried my hand at Apple Tarte Tartin and love it and all it’s caramelised juices mingling with the crust. With this challenge we were given free reign to make any home made pastry though Korena provided us with a rough puff pastry which when I have time I will try. Also free reign to use any fruit or vegetable of our choice. With such freedom I wanted to try a savoury Tarte Tartin. Here is the results. And it was delicious!
Thanks to our host, Korena!

Tomato Tarte Tartin

Dough

100 g plain flour
100 g fine semolina flour
Pinch salt
100g butter, chopped
80 g sour cream

Place flours, salt and butter into food processor. Pulse until like fine breadcrumbs. Add sour cream and pulse to combine and bring the dough together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Vegetables

2 red onions, finely sliced
a couple of glugs of olive oil
salt
60g butter
4 teaspoons white sugar
7 to 9 plum tomatoes, to fit your baking dish snugly
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
150g feta cheese
a handful of black olives

Caramelise the onions slowly in a olive oil. Season with salt.

While onions are cooking melt butter in a frying pan. Sprinkle over sugar. Swirl the pan to mix. Replace over heat to caramelise sugar swirling the pan regularly.

 In the meantime prepare plum tomatoes by halving and remove the  seeds and surrounding jelly like flesh.


Once the sugar has caramelised place the tomatoes in cut side down.

 It will bubble and the tomatoes will release their juices. After 10 minutes or so the tomatoes will have started to soften. Turn each one over.

 Sprinkle over  balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Don’t allow the tomatoes to break down. Once you think the tomatoes are softened enough remove them to the baking dish ( I used a 25cm quiche dish) cut side up.

Return the pan with the juices to the heat and allow to simmer to reduce the liquid to a caramel.

 Cool tomato caramel and tomatoes.

Back to the tomatoes sprinkle withe smoked paprika. Stone a handful of black olives and poke down amongst the tomatoes. Spread the caramelised onion evenly over the tomatoes. Stir the cooled tomato caramel to combine and pour evenly over the tomatoes. Crumble feta cheese over.

Roll out the dough to a circle larger than the baking dish. Place over the tomatoes tucking the edges in.

Bake 30 minutes at 180C or until nicely browned.

Baked Pork Buns – Daring Baker’s Challenge February 2015

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

This month at Daring Bakers’ we received a savoury challenge which was a lovely change. Julie of One-Wall Kitchen had us baking filled Asian Buns. Basically I kept with the challenge recipe simply adjusting the filling a little.

I have enjoyed making Steamed Pork buns over the years but I had never thought to bake them. This baked version was just as popular with the family. Thanks Julie, great challenge!

Baked Pork buns

Servings: 12 large buns

Dough Ingredients
1/4 ounce (7 gm) (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (1 packet )
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted butter
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
4 to 5 cups (20 oz to 25 oz) (560 gm to 700 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour ( I only needed 560g)
1 egg for egg-wash for the buns

Filling Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
500g (1 lb) ground pork or pork shoulder, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar )
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

4 spring onions

Heat oil in skillet.
Saute the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or until fragrant.
Add pork and brown it in the skillet.
Add soy sauce, oyster, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sugar and cook filling until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Place cornstarch and water into a small bowl and stir with fork or small whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.
Stir cornstarch mixture into filling and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Mix in the spring onions. Then remove from heat and cool before making the buns.

Directions for dough:

Mix yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Slowly mix in flour until it’s fully incorporated and you have a shaggy, very tacky dough, but not wet and sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for up to an hour in warm place until doubled. While dough is rising, you can make your filling if you haven’t already pre-made it to let it cool (see recipe below).
Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Depending on how much flour you added, it will be somewhat tacky to pretty tacky. Fold it over several times and shape it into a smooth ball, then divide into 12 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc about 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling into the center of the disc.

Wrap the dough around the filling, and firmly pinch it closed over the top of the filling.

Place filled buns on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
Beat 1 egg in a small bowl for egg wash and brush on top of each bun.

Bake buns for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. As you can see some of the filling oozed out of holes or cracks in the dough. Next time I will not roll the dough out as thin.

Really, though, it doesn’t matter these were delicious!

Homemade Orecchiette with Bacon and Broccoli

Orecchiette have been on my list of pasta to make for a long time and this Sunday was the day! At a local restaurant some time ago I had order a dish of spelt orecchiette which were delicious and thinking of the spelt flour I had just purchase, I thought spelt orecchiette were just the thing. However some online research did not deliver a spelt orecchiette recipe instead the pasta used for orecchiette seemed to be a simple semolina flour and water dough. So let’s not rock the boat…we will stick with tried and true….for the time being, anyway!
Taking a look at the method to hand make orecchiette looked simple…just drag the knife over the little pieces of dough and turn inside out. Easy! Hmmm, so I thought but instead I struggled while my daughter who always masters hand made pasta, ( I think she has an Italian nonna within! ) had no problems. It is tricky. There is no denying that but after a couple (read “lots”) of failures, success was mine! Very excited to produce our first orecchiette!
With some local organic streaky bacon, fresh broccoli and good Parmesan our Sunday lunch was fit for a King (or Queen)
Orecchiette – adapted from here
3 cups fine semolina flour
1 cup plain flour
good pinch salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 warm water ( 105F to 115F or 40C to 45C)
1 tablespoon (20mls) extra virgin olive oil
Place the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn the machine on slow and drizzle in 1/2 cup of water. Mix until thoroughly absorbed and the mixture is sandy – this could take 2 or 3 minutes. We need the flour to adsorb the water for as long as possible as this develops the gluten. Once we add the oil this inhibits the development of the gluten.
Drizzle in another 1/2 cup of warm water (it may need reheating) and continue to mix for 5 or 6 minutes. Drizzle in a 1/4 of a cup of warm water and keep mixing for another 5 minutes. By this stage if you machine is anything like mine it will be protesting! Drizzle in the oil and mix for a further 5 minutes. By now the mixture should start coming together and feel a bit like Play Dough. If it doesn’t add in a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. 
Once it is ready flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour.
Now for the fun part! Take golf ball size pieces of dough and roll a long rope of dough. Keep the rest of your dough covered. The dough should be a little bit thinner than your fingers maybe 1/2 an inch or so in diametre. Now cut the rope into little pillows of only about 1/2 an inch or less. As you go you will learn to adjust the size according to the size of orecchiette you are making.
Take a butter knife or dinner knife, press firmly on one portion…
…draw the knife towards you causing the dough to curl…
…. you should end up with something that looks like this….
….with your fingers unfurl it and turn it inside out shaping it over your thumb. And, just like magic you have made your first orecchiette!
 After a while you will have lots!
To serve with our freshly made orecchiette I turned to our local organic streaky bacon from Backfatters. The pigs at the Backfatter’s farm are very happy, heritage pigs that roam freely. I love that we have such premium quality at our doorstep.
So in a little extra virgin olive oil I sauteed the diced bacon and two finely chopped garlic cloves. After a little while a couple of spoonfuls of pine nuts and a finely sliced chilli followed.
While this happened I put a pot of salted water on to boil and prepared a large head of broccoli. Once the water was boiling the broccoli went in and cooked until just tender. Scooped out, draining all the water and straight into the frying bacon. The remaining water was brought back to the boil.
A little toss, 2 tablespoons of tomato passata and a splash of extra virgin olive brought the sauce together. No extra salt because the bacon is already quite salty.
Once the water returned to the boil all the pasta went in…yes, it’s a lot. The pasta probably boiled for about 5 minutes but just keep tasting it. You don’t want that floury taste and it still needs to have a bit of a bite. Then drain well.
Mix in the bacon and broccoli and a handful of good grated Parmesan cheese and there you have it…it’s a winner!

Jamie Oliver’s Chorizo and Squid

For the past year I have been taking a lot of inspiration from Jamie Oliver. My daughter gifted me his “15 minute meals” cookbook and we have been progressively trying each recipe.  Putting aside that I can’t make his recipes in 15 minutes ( maybe if I had staff preparing stuff I’d manage) the recipe are fresh, innovative, delicious and reasonably fast to make. The combination of flavours and idea’s have got me thinking differently about meals for the family. The recipes have a lot of blitzing in the food processor instead of chopping… I’m sure you could chop finely if you don’t have a processor.
This is one that I prepared recently and was enjoyed by all plus it’s healthy!
You should try it!

Chorizo & Squid with Greek-style couscous salad
(based on a recipe in Jamie’s 15 minute meals)
For this recipe get beautiful fresh baby squid, gut it and clean it. Also make sure you buy the best chorizo. The recipe asks for 80g of chorizo but I put in quite a bit more as I did with the fetta…I love fetta!
6 spring onions
150g baby spinach
big bunch of fresh mint
300g couscous
1 lemon
Chorizo & Squid
400g baby squid, gutted and cleaned
 3 good quality chorizo sausages
olive oil
2 red capsicum (peppers), deseeded and sliced
1 tablespoon honey
white wine vinegar
2 clove garlic, crushed
12 black olives (stones removed)
Garnishes
100g fetta cheese
2 teaspoons harissa
3/4 cup Greek yoghurt 

Blitz together in the food processor cleaned and trimmed spring onions, spinach, mint and a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove the blade and tip in the couscous and 1 large cup of boiling water. Replace the lid and let it sit. Remove the tentacle of the squid, set aside. Open up the tube and score the inside in a crisscross manner.Cut into pieces. Slice chorizo and fry in a pan with olive oil. Add the capsicum and fry for about 5 minutes. Throw in the squid, toss around then add the honey,  a splash of vinegar, crushed garlic and olives. Stir until the squid is lightly cooked.
Fluff up the couscous and dress with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Tip the couscous onto a platter and spoon over the squid mixture. Crumble the fetta over the lot. In a bowl on the side place the yoghurt with the harissa marbled through it. Cut up remaining lemon into wedges to serve on the side.