Sunday, September 19, 2010

stuffed eggplant

This is classic peasant food. It makes the most out of stale bread and eggplants when they are cheap and abundant in the summer. Like all rustic dishes if you get it right the taste is amazing.

what you need
2 medium sized egg plant
2 cups home made tomato sauce
1 cup quality bread crumbs
handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup grated parmesan
2 eggs

what to do
cut the egg plants in half and boil them until they are soft.
When cool scoop out the flesh gently, leaving the skin as a vessel.
In a bowl mix the flesh with all the ingredients minus the tomato sauce, making sure that the mixture is properly seasoned and that it’s not too wet or too dry.
Adjust accordingly adding more breadcrumbs if it’s too wet and more egg is it’s too dry.
Pack the eggplant skins with the mixture, pressing it gently.
In a non-stick pan with just a film of oil fry the eggplants with the stuffed side facing down so that a nice crust is formed and the contents are sealed.
Remove from the pan very gently and place the eggplants in a baking dish with the fried side facing upwards.
Spread the tomato over the surface of each eggplant, Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minutes .

Sunday, September 12, 2010

stuffed tuscan loaf

When deciding on what food to take on a fathers day picnic, the last thing i wanted to do was cook once we arrived.
So when deciding what to take one of things I went with was a stuffed Tuscan loaf, I took a large Tuscan cob loaf that I hollowed out and filled with all the things I love, basil pesto, fresh cut continental meats, grilled and marinated vegetables and provolone cheese.

This dish is something that the wives of men working in the fields would generally prepare, it was one way to have all their lunch in a easy to eat and carry way.

You could fill the loaf with what ever you like. for mine i hollowed out the loaf, and spread the entire inside with basil pesto.

Then layered all the things i like in side, fresh sliced, leg ham, proscuttio, various types of salami, fresh sliced tomato. fresh basil leaves, provolone cheese, feta cheese, fire roasted red peppers, grilled eggplant, olives and English spinach leaves.

You need to alternate the layers until it is full and compacted to the top, remember to work on the colours for maximum effect once you cut it open.

Once you have filled it to the top, ensuring the fillings are compacted tight, spread the lid with pesto and place on top, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to set.

When read to serve cut in wedges with a sharp knife and enjoy.

Some of the other items we took were, bacon and leek tarts, rosemary and parmesan crumb chicken tenderloins, pizza bites, sweet potato risotto balls, roasted chicken thighs stuffed with ricotta and sun-dried tomatoes and lamb koftas.

While everyone one else was trying to get around the public BBQ that never seem to heat up down by the river, we were sitting back in the sun enjoying lunch and having a glass of wine.

That''s a stress fee fathers day.

gluten free pizza dough

This dough is not like the traditional pizza dough but if you are gluten intolerant and love crispy base pizzas this is a great base to make.

what you need
450gr gluten free flour
550ml cold water

what to do
Place the gluten free flour in a large bowl and slowly add the cold water.Mix the flour and water together until you have a firm dough which resembles shortbread. The shortness of the dough will make it hard to knead.
After kneading for 7-10 minutes you should have a good pizza dough.
Roll out the dough and place on a baking tray slightly overlapping the edge, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Top as desired and bake.

note... if you don't let it rest and cook it straight away it will shrink and crack.

basic pizza dough

Recently I had an email from Lu Anne requesting a pizza dough that she could make at home resulting in a thin crispy crust, unlike the thick bases in those large chain pizzas.

The key to crispy base is replacing some of the flour with fine semolina, and also to cook the pizza on a stone. The stone helps to draw out the moisture resulting in a crispier base.
If you aren't lucky enough to have a wood fired oven with a stone base, you can purchase pizza stones from most kitchenware stores, that you can heat up in your kitchen oven. The secret is to cook your pizzas directly on the stone and not on a metal tray.

what you need
1 kg (2.2lbls) strong bakers flour
10 grams salt (0.35oz)
10 grams sugar (0.35oz)
20 grams dry yeast (0.70 oz)
20mls good olive oil (0.70oz)
660mls water (22fl oz)

what to do
mix flour with salt, sugar and dry yeast.
place water and olive oil in an electric mixing bowl add all dry ingrediedients mix on low with a dough hook for 5 minutes. turn out and need for one minute.
place dough in a oiled bowl covered with cling film for approx 1.5 hours to double in size.
knock back and shape into pizza balls, let rest for 15 minutes, then roll out and top as desired.

crispy tip
If you want a crispier crust replace 200grams of flour with 200grams fine semolina