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Financier cake with salted caramel icing

Financier cake with salted caramel icing

Parisian pastry chef Lasne will turn in his grave. Yesterday, I decided to recreate his financier and investigate on how to make a full-fledged cake. But that is not the issue. My recipe tells you how to add a sinful caramel frosting that will leave you licking the icing and crumbs on your fingers.. If you think it is undignified, then do.

Sinful Caramel iced Financier cake

In 1890, Lasne decided to restore the famous cake of the nuns of the Visitation Order (http://ginkgoproject.com/blog/2012/07/01/le-financier/). Since most of his clients were gentlemen from the Paris Stock Exchange, he decided to create an almond cake, which could be eaten without dirtying the fingers – for regular customers visiting his shop on the rue de Bourdaloue.. Technically, my recipe will give you ‘cleaned fingers’. Sorry Lasne..

After intense research, I adapted the financier recipe (http://lacerise.blogspot.com/2007/04/financiers.html) You can see that I was too lazy with stepping out for raspberries and that her cakes are brilliant – but sadly, I am not interested in small cakes. I like a large slice of cake with icing for tea and to silence beloved friends into helplessness.

After lot of search, the caramel frosting was adapted (http://www.italian-dessert-recipes.com/caramel_frosting.html) by using brown sugar since I never buy white.. Frankly, I looked at many images of icing but was not convinced by the method. This site had no pictures but seemed to be one of those old-fashioned recipes – of which, I am a huge fan after eaten many cakes that look great but taste of air or nothingness..

Ingredients
1 and half cup brown sugar (I powdered one cup brown sugar with 1 tsp vanilla)
1 and 1/4 cup ground almonds (ground with little sugar as recommended by the blog and 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup flour
5 tbs honey
A little over 1/2 tspn baking powder
180g unsalted butter (visually divide your 250 gm Lurpak and cut it folks)
6 egg whites (the leftover egg yolks can be thrown into a makhani base in the evening and boiled for 7 minutes)

How to
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Butter two baking tins.
First make the “beurre noisette” (or burnt butter). Melt butter in a thick-bottomed pan and let it boil slowly till it takes on a golden brown hue and the kitchen is filled with a fragrant and buttery, nutty smell. Leave to cool.
Next, take out your food processor bowl. Add sugar, ground almonds, flour and the baking powder and stir. Pour the cooled butter and mix. Add honey and egg whites and blend till smooth. Pour batter into two tins and bake for 20 minutes. Do check in between for doneness since this cake has a tendency to go from brown to burn in a very short span. Mine was browned as you can see in pixs below. Cool.

Cool the financier cake

Caramel icing ingredients

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs water
1/4 cup fresh cream (I used Nestle)
1 tsp vanilla powder
8 tbs butter (room temperature)
1 tsp of sea salt
1 cup powdered brown sugar mixed with 1 tsp of cocoa powder

How to make caramel icing

Mix sugar and water in a pan and heat on low flame. Let it cook without stirring till mix turns dark amber – around 7 minutes. Remove from pan and quickly add cream and vanilla else caramel will harden. Stir till smooth and leave for 30 minutes, said the recipe. I did.
Then add butter and salt and blend till smooth for another 3 minutes and add sugar. Since I had caramel bits, I melted the caramel using the double boiler method (icing bowl over a small saucepan of boiling water) and then placed the icing in the fridge to thicken (maybe half an hour). Hang the laundry, chat to a friend and be patient..

Frost the first cake with the icing. Then place the second one on top and pour the caramel all over the cake and smoothen with a knife.. Not perfect to look at but an absolutely melt-in-the mouth caramelly and moist, almondy experience. This cake tastes better the next day.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Aiyyaa or plot ki avial-poha – the movie review


In 2009, Sachin Kundalkar directed a movie titled Gandh (the Marathi word for smell) –  a triptych of three short films exploring connections of the olfactory senses with the lives of everyday people. Kundalkar dedicated the film to two of his favourite directors – Wong Kar Wai (known for a genre of film that did not rely on a plot but more on the individual strengths of its many actors and actresses to narrate the story through their seemingly mundane day-to-day activities) and the Polish film-maker Kieslowski who directed Blue. Now why am I telling you all this? Because the first short film in the triptych, Lagnachya Vayachi Mulgi (meaning The Bride To-Be in Marathi), forms the core script and dialogues of Aiyya in 2012. And I saw the Marathi film after seeing the Hindi version.
But therein lies the difference. In 2009, Kundalkar’s version is a 34 minute endearing short film about a girl Veena (Amruta Subhash) who reluctantly dresses up for to-be husbands and serves them poha when not working as a typist at an art college. Her fellow-typist Anita Dave is a more sober version of her 2012 revamped role. She is the “I told you so” type who warns Veena that her ”scented attraction” Girish Kulkarni is an alcoholic. This does not deter Veena from falling in love and following her man in a series of events that alternate between dream and reality. And wraps up well.

The 2012 version – OTT wakda
In circa 2012, Kundalkar decided to up the ante and probably explore the Wong Kar Wai style to its fullest and go for a remake in Hindi titled Aiyyaa. So in the just-released Hindi film, Rani Mukherjee plays the role of Meenakshi, a Maharashtrian librarian who fantasises that she has replaced Sridevi and Madhuri in their famed songs from Tezaab and Mr India – minus the heros. When she is not working in a library with Mynah (Anita Date) – now playing a wakda version of a Lady Gagalike character who practices her Bollywood dance class steps on the library desk and sips vodka from an ugly red monkey plastic water bottle.
Everything is OTT about this movie – Meenakshi’s doddering father who repairs old phones, an endearing mother who extols her daughter’s chef-like qualities to each new suitor till she has to prop her own bored jaws while repeating the same lines, a school dropout brother whose raison d’être is to rescue stray dogs and a intuitively crazy blind grandmother in an electric wheelchair who has willed her golden teeth to Meenakshi. The crazy Mynah who confounds you in every scene, especially, the What to Do number. The endless list of prospective grooms. And then the smouldering Prithviraj Sukumaran who plays a Tamilian art student – seemingly impervious to the besotted Rani while he wanders around looking for inspiration in the college library or the local vegetable market.
The movie is wakda (Marathi for wacky). Two of the songs delight – the raunchy Dreamum Wakeuppam is a pure Tamil dhanchik number that will thrill every autodriver in India and the taporis at heart (moi included). Agga Bai has good choreography. Mahek Bhi is an understated soft number..

Plot ki avial-poha

But the rest of the movie drags endlessly and Kundalkar loses the plot many a time while trying to explain unnecessary details that get twisted into their own corners. The only character who appears normal is Madhav (Subodh Bhave) – he stays grounded whether pruning roses or clapping to Rani’s impromptu singing in Tamil.
Rani is great when it comes to comedy, especially, the scenes where she is learning Tamil or stealing Prithvi’s shirt. Or even when she trails him to a red-light area. The scenes involving the dustbin are really funny. Even the mystery behind the actual scent of her man that drives Rani crazy endlessly also teases the viewer. But she lacks conviction when she cries and looks uncomfortable when portraying a jaded version of her Babli of the ‘Bunty and Babli’ fame.

Prithvi  simply sizzles on the screen when he does not talk. But when he does speak, one is left dumbstruck at the contradictory simplicity of his real life behind the smouldering artsy facade.  Though it is a bit of an anticlimax to know that he had been aware of her obsession all along. But it is Anita Date who steals the show with her sauciness and her one-liners like feeling a “vada-pau type of hunger” or her Lijjat Pappad bunny inspired laugh.

Despite good performances from the entire cast, Aiyyaa as a movie misses the mark with its editing and plot. It forces the audience to feel exactly like the family members who fell asleep at Rani’s engagement – while waiting for her to turn up. In short, plot ki avial-poha.

Rating – 2 stars out of five

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Movies

 

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The Marrakech Diaries : a travel guide

The Marrakech Diaries : a travel guide

As the waiter removed the lid with a flourish, he unveiled a platter of tender and semi-browned delicately spiced chicken tagine, which was deftly carved up into seven portions and simply melted in the mouth. We ate till we could not ingest a sliver more..

Dar Yacout’s delectable chicken tagine, Marrakech

The Dar Yacout restaurant is a foodie’s delight and claims to be the last frontier for authentic local cuisine in Marrakech. The Moroccan mezze included innumerable salads as starters – including a sweet tomato puree, which serves as a sharp contrast to the crisp raw vegetables. My favourite was the chopped liver with a hint of tomato gravy – great when mopped up with the fresh bread. However, the lamb tagine had a very overpowering smell and I had to pass.
The must-have from the dessert menu – Pastilla au lait et amandes (sheets of filo pastry alternating with a sweet milky sauce and almonds), a crunchy and light dessert that is a fitting end to the evening – I shamelessly showered myself with flakes of pastry as I bit into a new layer.
The musicians sang a traditional and endless mix of old Berber, Lebanese and Egyptian songs in the background – my Arab friends at the dinner translated the songs that spoke of love – stories of the beloved, of pining, of the unrequited.. When they were not singing along with the musicians.. It was drizzling off and on but no one complained. Our last night in Marrakech seemed intertwined in some kind of magic and mint tea.

How
Four days ago, I had set the alarm for 4 am. After the endless check of switches, passport and keys, I walked bleary-eyed into the airport – the flight leaves at 7.30 am from Dubai. We flew Emirates to Casablanca – a long eight hours of sleep, movies, food and more sleep. In February, the airline replaced the Airbus A340-500 for the bigger aircraft Boeing 777-300 to Morocco. Being a movie buff, I managed to catch two captivating Malayalam films – Arjunan Saakshi (a thriller) and City of God, another brilliant and dark thriller, which uses the hyperlink cinema format to reveal the intricate intermingling of different lives. As the flight descended into Casablanca, one could see endless stretches of mountains and farms creating beautiful patterns of brown and green landscape. The photographs were taken by Moi with my favourite Nikon D60 and new Nokia 808 (worth the price for great pixs and videos on the go).

Where
The airport has a 70s feel and the two hour drive to Marrakech was pretty uneventful – long stretches of farmland, small huts, horses, two-storied buildings, donkeys and erratic heaps of tires but a very smooth highway. And brilliant sunshine minus the humidity one is so used to in other hot climates. While Casablanca is known as the Blue City, Marrakech, which was founded in 1070 by Youssef Ben Tachfine, the chief of the Almoravides dynasty, is known as the Red City.
Palais Namaskar marks the Oetker Collection’s first hotel in Africa and is located on an offbeat road in Marrakech between the Atlas Mountains and Djebilet Hills. The first glimpse of the hotel was a surprise – orange trees growing around the walls. A long walkway through a fragrant archway leads you to a serendipitous moment – a delicate balance of water and walkways leading to villas and palaces amidst a tranquil Balinese inspired landscaping. The owner, Philippe Soulier, along with the French-Algerian designer Imaad Rahmouni, set out to create a destination based on Feng Shui philosophy – to make it as close to nature as possible.

Palais Namaskar, Marrakech – the walkway to the villas

It is a success based on firsthand experience. Over the next four days, I did not switch on the television (even as background noise).

The Palais Namaskar grounds, Marrakech

Most of my free time in the villa was actually spent sitting outdoors and gazing at the stars – including a 5 am session with a steaming cup of tea. Look for the free yoga mat in the cupboards – it is a pleasure to do Suryanamaskar outdoors at 6 am when the water sprinklers come on and birdsong fills the air.

View from my bedroom, Palais Namaskar, Marrakech

No matter how you travel, each hotel is like the woman Elvis is singing about in Moody Blues “When Monday comes, she’s Tuesday, when Tuesday comes, she’s Wednesday…”  What won my heart was the service – an attendant walked you through the entire villa and explained the angle to insert the key, the location of every light switch and button (with the name next to it). A rarity in most hotels – normally, you are expected to  stumble your way through geeky gadgetry and then the reception sounds condescending when you call after managing to soak your self with the overhead shower instead of the spray.

Language can get a bit of a barrier – French and Arabic win over English in Morocco. But sign language works and one can always call the reception.

Places to visit
Marrakech is exotic, quirky and at times exasperating – but the highs are so delightful that one forgets the rest. The heat is deceptive – so use a hat or long scarf and don’t forget to drink water as you go. Wear loose and comfortable clothing, slip on a sturdy pair of walking shoes, carry a backpack to dump your finds and leave your hands free to take pictures. Don’t forget to pick a bottle of cold-pressed argan oil – Morocco’s beauty secret. Everything is more expensive at the airport – so look, bargain and pick up when you see a must-have.
Gueliz : an interesting place for picking up odd antiques, jewellery, leather and clothes. Go into the inner lanes, which have shops saying “solde” (“Sale’ to the uninitiated). Lunch at the Café de la poste, an olde-worlde restaurant that serves a great citrusy and tangy beef tagine – the taste still lingers.. The restaurant is behind the main Gueliz post office and the interiors features old fans, palms and a movie-like feel.

Reading till the next shoe shine – Gueliz, Marrakech

Djemaa El Fna: The square and the surrounding souq is a must-see. Be prepared to give up three hours of your life exploring the lanes and inner lanes and running into sing-song guides and confused tourist groups – just like yours. Anytime post 3 pm will be ideal to visit this famed souk, which sells beautiful and unique leather bags, jewellery, Moroccan tea-pots (the heavier, the better), mirrors, the famed babouche slippers, decorative locks and trinkets..

Djemaa El Fna souk walkways, Marrakech

Start with 2/5th of the price quoted by the shopkeeper and be prepared for continuous rounds of bargaining. This includes walking away, being called back to show you the difference between the real and the fake piece, exasperation at your stubbornness – it is all a game that both the shopper and the shopkeeper must enjoy with laughs and mock dismay. I have good practice in this game having grown up in Mumbai.

Try some sweets – Djemaa El Fna souk, Marrakech

Warnings – if you take pictures with the traditional dancers, snake charmers and such exotica, be prepared to pay them for giving you the honour to just stand next to them.. It can get ugly. By evenings, the souk turns into a bustling market place, which also translates as being roughed around by rival guides and food stalls. An ex-colleague told me that the solution lies in shopping and then parking at the first floor of a restaurant around the square before twilight – so that one can enjoy the sights from a distance.

Djemaa El Fna souk dancers – they will ask for money if photographed, Marrakech

Jardin Majorelle  in Guéliz. Yves Saint Laurent’s electric blue Art Deco estate is another must-visit. It was designed by the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s. The special shade of bold cobalt blue, which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, bleu Majorelle—Majorelle Blue. If you look close, the bamboo trees have been vandalised by grafitti from sharp objects – the “A loves B” kinds or just names of people who wished to immortalise themselves. On bamboo!

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech – true cobalt blue

Yahya Gallery – featuring the work of Yahya Rouach, the famed metal designer, who moved to Marrakech in 2002. Declared unfit for art school, he has also worked as a martial art instructor in his other avatars. “It was a case of the first will finish last and the last first,” he said as we walked around the gallery. He also been commissioned to work on some of the leading hotels in the world, including the Royal Mansour in Marrakech and currently working on a collection of 25 handmade pieces with artist Mehdi Qotbi, which will be exhibited in Paris at ‘Institut du Monde Arabe’ in April & May 2013. He is looking at options to set up galleries in Dubai, Doha, Riyadh, and other cities in KSA, Europe & Asia but in no particular order he said.

Yahya Rouach’s Gallery, Marrakech

La Mamounia Hotel – Go, if only for a drink. The hotel, which opened in 1923 and had a major facelift in 2009, features dark, opulent Moroccan interiors with Art Deco touches that take you back to another world.
Comptoir – The first lounge restaurant in Marrakech located at Hivernaget features a spectacular show at 10.30 pm – the lights dim and a bevy of belly dancers come down the grand staircase and dance around tables to an accompaniment of music, drums and loud ululations. The food is not much to write home about though.. Despite other me-toos in Marrakech, it remains on the must-visit list.

The last night in Morocco was filled with showers and the heady fragrance of freshly soaked earth. The candle-lit lanterns and the arches were reflected in the water – on the hotel walkway and made me feel like I was walking in a beautiful, never ending illusion.

I woke up at 5 am next morning and lay in bed with the doors open. It was cold. The sky was overcast with brooding clouds. I was ensconced beneath the thick duvet and soaking in the intoxicating beauty of the monsoon. The flight was at 2.30 pm – so we left the hotel by 10 am after a delicious outdoor breakfast.. The manager remembered that I liked ginger in my tea.. The rains had soaked all the outdoor seating cushions… I did not want to leave..

I slept for most of the way – lulled by the beautiful landscape and grey sky.  Strangely, the shops at the airport actually price everything in Euros – though they accept dirhams and dollars.  I learned from my newly-made friend Merieme that the best argan oil comes from Agadir and costs far below the airport prices. She also educated me about the difference in the kinds of oil – the toasted amber one is used for cooking while the yellow, cold-pressed argan oil is the Berber beauty secret.

The flight landed around 1 am in Dubai.. Everything seemed so warm and familiar and yet, I knew that some part of me had changed again..  The nomad NRI now fully understood the old Zen saying.. “Before Zen, chop wood, carry water, after Zen, chop wood, carry water.”

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Foodie reviews, Travel

 

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To-die-for Mussels Tarantina


Image

After waiting for 15 minutes at Outback (confused and disdainful staff) on a Friday night, we left and discovered this restaurant. And decided to take a chance. Romano’s Macaroni Grill is hidden at one end of Dubai Festival City, a level below the cinemas.
The service was delightful. After we were seated, a prompt waiter introduced himself and wrote his name on the table mat; adding a smiley. While waiting for the main course, we were served a freshly baked loaf of rosemary focaccia on the house. Warm and fragrant – we ended up demolishing half the loaf. By then, my daughter and I were served our orders – a Calamari Fritti and a Tarantina Mussels – both, a first for us.
The Fritti just blew our mind. Generous portions of fresh and succulent calamari (abso must try) with perfectly crisp batter.
But the moment of true awakening was the Tarantina Mussels served on perfectly done orzo (pasta shaped like a rice grain). Every spoon was a burst of flavours – garlicky buttery orzo, hints of olive oil, sea-stock, fresh mussels and parsley; asked for a generous dash of fresh pepper. After the first spoon, my daughter closed her eyes, sat still and actually put away her BB. It was that good. We ate in total silence but could not finish. Asked to pack the food and requested to add the wonderful leftover bread. They refused and said they would give a fresh loaf! And did not charge…
The staff seemed genuinely comfortable with each other despite the rush and it was a joy to see the camaraderie in a semi-open kitchen with chefs who seemed to love cooking. Yes, I am planning to go back and try other dishes. A serendipitous experience with a reasonable bill for casual fine dining. The next time, we went back, the chef overdid the stock for the Tarantina. As a result, it was more like a soup. So do remember to warn them.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Foodie reviews

 

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Old-Fashioned chocolate cake with Galaxy dark chocolate icing

Old-Fashioned chocolate cake with Galaxy dark chocolate icing

This recipe is dedicated to my dearest friend who ate many of my burnt and strange dessert experiments with chocolate cakes and such over various dinners. As well as chocolate icings.. One day, when I apologetically announced to my guests that I had made a chocolate pudding, he looked at me straight in the eye and said, “You just bake or make whatever sweet you want.. Let us eat and then christen the dish after deciding what it really is.. But never ever tell us the name of the original recipe.” This was said between much munching and background chuckles of other friends.. Some of them usually loved the burnt bits of cake so I was mollified.. But I have lost my baking block since then..

So tired of eating over-airy sponge cakes with sad icing, I decided to recreate the taste of the good old-fashioned chocolate cake from memories.. The search on the web led to good ole Nigella Lawson.. http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/old-fashioned-chocolate-cake-119..

However, the temptation to make something new arises whenever I am on deadline to submit an article.. While thoughts ferment and fizzle, I cook or bake to clear my head of conflicts in the story. And to douse my nervous energy.. This means that I have to work with whatever is available in the kitchen from the last experiment and the supplies from my sweet grocer who does not cater to gourmet foodie experiments… So the below recipe as usual deviated from the original… So did the icing… It really deviated based on past experiments with icing and my love for certain chocolates…. Aand is wicked on the waist…

good old-fashioned chocolate cake

Cake:

200g plain flour
200g brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g best-quality cocoa (I used Cadbury’s cocoa)
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla powder (did not have the real thing)
1 cup Nestle fresh cream pls six tbs yoghurt to heighten the cocoa taste.. (did not have sour cream at my grocery)

Mix the dry ingredients.. And add to the wet ingredients in a food processor… I would do butter, sugar, eggs, cream and alternate with the flour mix added slowly.. Pour into two springform round tins and bake at 180.. for 25 mins.. Check and cool..

Cut thin squares. Very decadent cake..

And the icing too…

4 Galaxy bars dark chocolate (they work for me)
1 tsp vanilla powder
Half cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tub Nestle fresh cream
1 cup icing sugar

Melt cream and brown sugar using the double boiler method. Take off heat and add broken dark chocolate, vanilla powder, salt and let chocolate melt. Whip and blend in the icing sugar and keep in the fridge for an hour to thicken.. When cake cools, ice the top part of the first cake, place the second one on top and continue to spread icing till it finishes.. Use a fork to create the decorative swirls on top..

Sinful moist old fashioned Chocolate cake with Galaxy dark chocolate icing...

Lick icing pan..  Does not last too long..

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Jazirah Aviation Club – my first microlight flight in UAE


Dh 150 for 15 mins of sheer giddiness

Nomad NRI in Dubai

Saw a microlight plane whizzing past as I was returning from a trip to Ras Al Khaimah over the Eid holidays.. On a lark, I drive down the dirt road and sign up for a 15 mins chakkar at the Jazirah Aviation Club, which has all the necessary government approvals. Heart thudding. Thought of running back to the safe confines of the car… After all, I did not know how to swim.  And sea was very much a part of this trip.

But having forced my friend to sign up, my gargantuan ego forced me to sit smiling and examine the grey sky with what they call studied casualness. Ask for mint and sat ruminating on life, the universe and other random incidents.. We both choose the yellow planes. The control room said that there was a 30 percent chance of a storm alert.. Did I make a mistake? A…

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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Travel

 

Rosemary and garlic Focaccia

Rosemary and garlic Focaccia

My first attempt at bread was during a long and cold winter. A friend and I mixed the yeast with warm water, waited, went for a walk, came back and it was still flat. We plodded on to make a bread that was hard as rock. The kind you find on beaches. It scared me away from bread for almost 15 years.
With so many different types of breads available in Dubai (my favourite being the now discontinued date and walnut bread from Spinneys), I decided not to try baking bread till two years ago. Got a good crust with an uncooked centre. Binned.
This year, the unusually hot summer made me reconsider bread again. So I read through various recipes on the internet and fell for the pixs on http://thewannabecountrygirl.com/homemade-focaccia/
I wanted that kind of bread. Followed the recipe, did the two rises but went shopping and came back late at night. So I put it in the fridge and knocked it down the next day. Divided it into three batches. The first could have made a good place mat. I tried a second attempt with a flatter shape that ended up as a shapeless alternative to a table tennis racket. I twisted the third and slashed the top. It was fragrant but hardened into a jaw-breaking roll. By then I was slowly going off bread again. Déjà vu!
So I decided now to go with my mistakes to a forum where people post their mistakes and other kind souls give solutions. This one was the best – really wonderful people who had created a long string, which detailed their methods and solutions. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php/topic/95345-minimalist-no-knead-bread-technique/
I read through the entire thread and realised that my mistakes started from step two onwards. For one, over-kneading like I was a baker starring in the movies. Two, thinking that slightly squishy dough was a mistake and adding flour to make it smooth. Apparently, the higher the water content, the better the bread. Also, the bread had to cook in a closed baking dish. Whaaat? But I trusted all these unknown people.
Combined all the advice to create a fragrant to die-for-focaccia. Of course, I want to stand on the rooftop and share my secrets with all those would-be bakers who fear bread. Go for it. My discerning teenager who loves the Carino’s bread was hooked. So I guess you can now show off to your family and friends.. Cut down on the oil wherever you wish. But why?

You need:
4 cups all-purpose bread flour + half cup extra
1/8 tsp active yeast
2 tsps brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups lukewarm water

Topping
Sea salt
2 tsp rosemary
½ tsp caraway
½ tsp black sesame seeds
6 cloves small garlic

Put yeast in warm water, stir and add sugar. It should froth in 10 minutes. Many recipes call for 2 tsps yeast but it is a mistake. Ignore. Less is more here. The Dubai summer will do the rest of the rise. Mix the salt with the flour. If you have the food processor, dig out your dough hooks and put the flour in the bowl. Switch on and slowly pour the water with yeast. Around 5 minutes, stop and continue to knead to a slightly sticky mass (Not smooth). Add 2 tsp of the oil to dough. After, say, some 10 kneads, put some oil in the food processor bowl, roll the sticky dough and coat it with the oil. Cover with a wet tea cloth and leave in a warm place till dough is doubled (say four to five hours). Those without food processors can always knead by hand. Takes the same time anyways.
Take the baking dish (the old ceramic ones with glass lids are great). Pour a generous amount of olive oil on the base of the pan. Now knock down the dough for just one minute. Not more. This is called the minimalist approach, according to the forum. Place the dough on the baking dish and press down to cover the base. Use your fingers and punch holes into the dough. Cover again with wet tea cloth used earlier. Leave for one hour till it has risen again.
Pour some olive oil into the holes. Resist urge to knock it down. Sprinkle the dough with rosemary, caraway seeds, black sesame seeds, garlic and half tsp of sea salt. Now cover and bake in a 180C preheated oven. Yes. The forum says that the steam ensures that the bread is soft. After 25 minutes, remove lid and continue to bake at 160C till the top turns a nice golden brown. Pour a quarter cup water twice during this phase on the floor of the oven shelf.  The steam makes the bread moist.

Sunset and freshly baked rosemary and garlic focaccia bread

Serve with sliced cold orange bell peppers and sliced cold peppered potatoes. The mild sweetness of the bell peppers contrasts with the mildly salted focaccia bread and the minimalism of the cold potatoes.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Recipes

 

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