Earlier this week I spotted a tweet from Damien Mulley requesting food bloggers to get in touch with Roma for a free bag of pasta flour and as the offer contained 2 of my favourite things, pasta flour and “free”. I immediately popped an e-mail to the appropriate address and received a prompt response that left me feeling on top of the world, my new contact in Roma is a fan! It’s the little things that make yer day
Yesterday morning the door bell rang so I headed for the front door to be greeted by a courier with a package for me. It was a bit large for a bag of flour, I thought and sure enough once the paperwork had been signed and the courier thanked, I hurried inside to open the package.
Not only was there the flour as promised, but also a re-usable pasta box filled with dried penne and a recipe card. The recipes are for ravioli and a calzoni pizza. Now as some of my long-time readers know I’ve posted both pizza base and pasta recipes previously and I’ve posted about my difficulty in finding Farina Tipo 00 in Ireland so I’m overjoyed to hear that Roma are now bringing this product in to Ireland and that Superquinn and the larger Dunnes Stores will be stocking it. Thanks so much, the shopping trips to Italy were getting a bit pricey!
I’m also really looking forward to playing around with my pizza base recipe and hope to get a little bit closer to that genuine Italian pizza flavour at home, in the next few days so keep an eye out for a new recipe in the coming weeks.
3 x 7g packets of dried yeast
1 large tablespoon of honey
625ml beer (I like Hoegaarden but I’ve also done this with Smithwicks as well)
500g of strong white bread flour
500g of plain flour
Plain flour for dusting
Lets talk about beer for a moment, I mentioned two brands of beer above that I have tried this with, Hoegaarden creates by far the better flavour of these two, but any beer should work, just be aware that a lot of the flavour of the bread comes from the beer so make sure you use a beer that you like to drink and you shouldn’t go too far wrong 😉
Sieve your flour into a large mixing bowl (the bigger the better) and add the salt and make a well in the center.
The next part of this recipe goes against the grain for most guys, we need to warm the beer in a saucepan until tepid. Then dissolve the yeast and the honey in half of this and hold onto the rest. I know it’s difficult to do this to a beer you like but trust me it’s worth it.
Now pour the yeast mixture into the well you made in the flour and with an open flat hand start making circular movement in the liquid moving from the center outwards (bringing in the dry ingredients) until the yeast/beer mixture is soaked up. Next you want to add the remainder of the beer and continue to mix until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated and you have a moist dough.
Now for the most important part of making bread and also the most fun, kneading. Start by flouring a work surface well and placing the dough on it, what you want to do is roll, push, pull, fold and punch your dough for about five minutes or so. If any dough sticks to your hands just rub them together with a little extra flour and it’ll fall right off.
Flour both your hands and the top of the dough lightly and form the dough into a large roundish shape, place it back in the mixing bowl and score the top of it.
Now we’re going to leave the bread to prove for the first time – we want it to roughly double in size. I’ve found it’s best to cover the bowl with a slightly damp tea towel and leave it in a warm draught free place. This can take up to one and a half hours, so there is no point sitting there waiting for it to happen leave it alone and check in every fifteen to twenty minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
At this point you want to knock the dough back by kneading it again for about a minute.
Next, divide the dough into twelve balls and set them on a greased baking tray ready to go into the oven. You want to leave some space between each one, as they prove again they may expand into each other however once cut the joined bread rolls should pull apart easily.
Then cover them again and leave them to prove again until they double in size. They may be a little slower to double this time but don’t panic, it usually takes considerably longer for the dough to rise the second time so hang in there and just be confident, it will.
While they are proving, heat your oven to 225 C.
Once they have doubled in size dust the tops with a little flour. Next you want to place the baking tray into the oven as carefully and gently as possible, after all your hard work to this point you don’t want to spoil them by knocking any of the air out of them. Also, be careful not to slam the oven door 😉
They should only need twenty to twenty five minutes to bake but you can check if they’re done by picking one up and tapping the bottom if it’s sounds hollow they’re done. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack for about forty-five minutes.
You can of course use this recipe for all sorts of bread, just shape it into whatever you want before the second proving and cook in the same manner.
For the fish cakes:
450g potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 large onion, finely diced
225g smoked trout, flaked
225g fresh cod, poached & flaked
225g fresh salmon, poached & flaked
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley (divide into 2 equal halves)
Zest of 3 lemons, finely chopped (divide into one-third and two-thirds)
6 tablespoons of breadcrumbs (approx 2 slices bread)
3 tablespoons of plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
For the parsley sauce:
1 medium onion, finely diced
75g plain flour
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks finely chopped (keep the stalks separate)
Makes 8 fish cakes (2 per person is a very decent meal) and enough sauce to cover them. If you are going to chill / freeze some of the fish cakes, reduce the ingredients for the sauce proportionately.
Directions on how to make speedy mashed potatoes can be found here.
To poach the fish, cover in cold water, add 1 bay leaf and bring to boil. After boiling for 5 mins, remove from heat and flake the fish, discarding the skin and the bay leaf. Remove any bones at this point and throw away.
Heat the 50g butter and sauté the onions over a medium heat for about 10 mins, so they are well cooked but do not take on colour.
In a large bowl combine the breadcrumbs, half of the chopped parsley and one-third of the lemon zest. Tip out onto a plate. On a 2nd plate, spread out your flour. Finally, on a bowl (or plate with high sides), pour out your beaten eggs.
In your empty bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, flaked fish, cooked onion, dill, chives and the remaining parsley and lemon zest. Mix well with your hands and divide into 8, forming into fish cake shapes. Dip each fish cake into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, coating well and set aside. The fish cakes can be chilled or frozen at this point for later use – 24-48 hours in fridge, 1 month in freezer.
Now turn your oven on to 200 C. Begin to cook the parsley sauce while the oven heats. Melt your butter over a medium heat and add in the chopped onion and parsley stalks, frying gently for about 10 minutes until softened, but not coloured. Reduce the heat and add in the flour, stirring well. Start slowly adding in the milk, about 2-3 tablespoons at a time, stirring in well to avoid lumps. You may need to play with the heat here, keep your mix just below a simmer.
Just after you start adding the milk to the sauce, heat enough vegetable oil in a frying pan to just cover the bottom. Fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly golden. Be careful not to use too much heat as they will burn easily. Once fried, transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
All this time you should have been keeping an eye on your sauce, adding the milk until you get to the consistency you desire. With about 2-3 minutes before the fish cakes are ready to come out of the oven, add in the chopped parsley and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper – this is very important as the sauce will be incredibly bland without added salt!
Note: if you can’t get the specific types or quantities of fish listed here, feel free to substitute smoked salmon, tinned tuna, etc, as needed.
This pie uses veg instead of fruit so it’s a healthy(ier) Soul Food dessert and what’s even better, it tastes great. This recipe makes enough pie filling to fill two sweet pastry pie crusts, so I usually freeze half instead of baking two pies (it’s better for my waistline:)).
To start with, heat your oven to 200C, wash your sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a fork. Then lay them out on a baking tray and pop them into the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour. When they’re done they should be soft and cooked through fully, I use a skewer or cocktail stick to check they are soft in the middle. Once they are done get them out of the oven and turn it down to 180C.
You will need to leave them to cool for a few minutes once they come out of the oven so you don’t burn your fingers at the next step, which is to peel them and get rid of the skin. This isn’t difficult, just pull at the skin and it should come off fairly easily once they’re cooked. The hotter they are the easier I find it to peel them, put it’s a fine line between hot enough and sore fingers, so be careful!
Put the flesh of the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and mash them. I find a potato masher works best but you can use a fork. Next melt the butter over a low heat and add it along with the sugar, flour, nutmeg, vanilla extract and a large pinch of cinnamon to the mashed sweet potato.
Whisk 2 eggs in a separate bowl or mug and add this to the rest, then mash everything together until it’s completely combined.
Next spoon the mixture into the pastry case and spread it around evenly. Take the left over uncooked pastry, roll it out and cut it into strips to “cover” the pie. The easiest way I’ve found to get the woven finish is to do the weaving on a sheet of greaseproof paper and then flip this onto the rest of the pie.
Beat the remaining egg and brush it over the exposed pastry. Make sure the oven has cooled to 180C and put the pie in for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
I usually serve this with either some ice-cream or whipped cream. It’s best eaten fresh, just allowed to cool for about half an hour, but it can also be eaten cold.