Tag: olive oil

Fougasse Sandwich with Baked Beetroot, Goat Cheese and Thyme

Beetroot + Goat Cheese Fougasse Sandwich

I got really hooked on the roots and syrup combination in the past week. It all started with my ginger honey glazed Navet, yellow turnip fried as vegetarian steaks followed by caramelised maple parsnip with goat cheese combined in a warm salad and I’m still in the mood for sweet and earthy duos, at least one more.

It’s Sandwich Wednesday and the first thing that came into my mind when I looked at the beautiful Fougasse bread I baked yesterday, was a baked beetroot sandwich. My flatbread has strong aromas of orange and sage, perfect to add some more earthy and sweet flavours. There are some beetroots lying on my kitchen window sill, just waiting to be baked in maple syrup and olive oil sprinkled with thyme. I found a kind of thyme at the organic store that I have never seen before, with thick, long leaves. They are stronger in taste compared to the small leaved one, a bit woody. The thin slices of the roots are done after 10 minutes in the oven, soft, syrupy and partly crisp. I let them soak into the oily bread and finish my sandwich with some mild goat cheese crumbled on top to add some fresh milkiness.

Beetroot + Goat Cheese Fougasse Sandwich

I made 3 flatbread sandwiches with 3 small beetroots peeled and cut into very thin slices and mixed with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. I seasoned the roots with salt and pepper, mixed them with a few sprigs of thyme and roasted them spread in a roasting tin for 12 minutes in the hot oven set to 220°C / 430°F (Rotitherm roasting setting) until they were soft.

If you don’t want to make your own Orange Sage Fougasse bread (I can just recommend it as it’s fantastic), you can also use focaccia or soft buns (I made some very soft and juicy Mountain Buns with spices a couple months ago). I cut the flatbread in half, drizzled some olive oil (generously) on one side and spread the roast beetroot slices on top. After I sprinkled them with goat cheese (for 3 sandwiches I used 100g / 3.5 ounces of cheese), some fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, I closed my Fougasse sandwich, pleased about another great sweet root variation!

Beetroot + Goat Cheese Fougasse Sandwich

 

Beetroot + Goat Cheese Fougasse Sandwich

 

Beetroot + Goat Cheese Fougasse Sandwich

Fougasse Bread with Orange, Sage and Olive Oil

Orange + Sage Fougasse

It’s time to bake bread again! I use a recipe which involves sage and my beloved blood oranges, they’ll be out of season soon, so I’m using every possible occasion that allows me to cook or bake with my sweet citrus fruits. I mix generous amounts of their zest and juice into the dough and the result is impressive!

My bread is a light and aromatic Fougasse, a French flatbread very popular in Provence where it’s often made with olives, herbs and cheese. It’s similar to the Italian Focaccia but with a leaf pattern of cuts in the dough. In some recipes, the cut goes all the way through creating holes in the bread while it’s baking which makes the bread harder. I prefer to leave mine juicy with shallow cuts on the surface. Besides the orange and sage I add good olive oil in and on the bread. I use the wonderful extra virgin olive oil from the Molise region which I got from Marilena. Its strong and fruity taste is just what my Mediterranean flatbread needs!

I already have a great idea for a sandwich I can make with this bread for tomorrow’s Sandwich Wednesday!

Orange + Sage Fougasse

Fougasse with Orange, Sage and Olive Oil

For 6 flatbreads you need

plain flour 400g / 14 ounces
(I use spelt flour type 630 but you can use any other plain flour)
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound flour
salt 1 teaspoon
sage, chopped, 8-10 leaves
zest of 1 medium sized orange
freshly squeezed blood orange or orange juice 100ml
water, lukewarm, 100ml
olive oil 5 tablespoons plus more for brushing the bread
organic egg 1

Combine the flour, yeast, salt, orange zest and sage in a large bowl. Add the water, orange juice and egg and mix with your dough hooks for 5 minutes. On a floured surface, continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven for 45 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

Take the dough out and punch it down. Divide it into 6 pieces and roll them out into egg shaped discs (on a floured working surface, around 1 1/2 cm /  1/2″ thick). Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel and let them rise for 20 minutes.

Set your oven to 210°C / 410°F.

Brush the flatbread with olive oil and cut a pattern of 6-8 diagonal slashes into the dough to make a leaf pattern. Bake the flatbread on the lowest level for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Take them out and let them cool for 2 minutes.

I cut the warm flatbread in half and drizzled some more olive oil over it, it merged perfectly with the orange and sage aromas!

Orange + Sage Fougasse

 

Orange + Sage Fougasse

 

Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam and more delicious Goods from the Maltese Rock

Malta

Today I will share some special food with you! I got a wonderful gift from Emma, my boyfriend’s sister who lives in Malta and came to visit us for a few days. She put a big smile on my face when she opened her bag and I saw all the nice food she brought for me (well, not just for me actually). Emma knows which food I love and miss so much from her home island in the Mediterranean, especially now that it’s been a few months since I was last there. Her gift reminded me of the taste and smell of this island which I got to know so well over the past years, during so many holiday trips and summers we spent there. Our family and friends, the food, the sea, so many memories connect me to this rock in the Mediterranean (this is what many Maltese affectionately call their home island).

This is a very personal introduction to Maltese food through my eyes and taste buds.

Whenever I’m in Malta, first thing in the morning I go to a wonderful traditional bakery, St. Josephs Bakery in Msida, to buy the most amazing white bread with the perfect crust. Every Maltese is proud of this bread and it’s famous for good reason. There are two different types of bread, the big loaf called Hobz Malti (Maltese Bread) and the round Ftira with a hole in the middle. Usually, I cut thick slices off the loaf, dip them in olive oil and spread the sweetest tomatoes and some crushed pepper on top which makes the Hobz biz-Zejt u Tadam (Maltese bread with oil and tomato). There is also a famous (and quick) beach version which is made with Kunserva, a concentrated tomato paste full of ripe Maltese tomatoes and some mint or basil in between two slices of this amazing bread. There’s nothing better than sitting on the beach after a long swim, this sandwich in your hands and your fingers staining with juicy tomatoes and olive oil – I love it!

Malta

Fruits and vegetables are heavenly in this sun kissed place, strong and honest in taste, ripe, with the flavours of a soil rich in clay. There’s not much water, but the sun and the ground make up for it. My taste buds are always disappointed when I’m back home and have to get used to the store bought quality again. Maltese sausage is another speciality I’m very fond of as it’s full of spices, the meat is coarse, its taste so strong that you can season a meal with it. Dairy products are limited, this rock isn’t really made for cows, but the Maltese make a strong cheese from goat milk which is called Gbejna, delicious tiny round cheeselets. There are two kinds, the hard one which is a bit salty, great for salad and pizza, and the soft one, milky and mild. On the photos you see the hard ones from Gozo, Malta’s sister island.

One of my favourite places is Busy Bee Confectionery where I get my daily dose of delicious cakes and pies. I love their sweet Mediterranean specialities like Cannoli, Cassata Siciliana and Ottijet (figure of 8 shaped tea time cookies with sesame seads). Unfortunately the Cannoli didn’t survive the flight very well so I can’t show them to you. On the savory side there is Qassata tal-Irkotta (a round short crust pie filled with ricotta), Pastizzi tal-Irkotta or tal-pizelli (puff pastry filled with ricotta or peas) and a huge Torta tal-Laham (Beef Pie), filled with tasty beef stew.

The colourful sweets are Perlini, filled with almonds, a traditional Maltese carnival treat.

Go visit and enjoy!

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Malta

 

Luscious Bread with Black and Green Olives

Black + Green Olive Bread

Baking bread is a very relaxing and satisfying ritual. You mix the dough and watch it rise slowly, then you shape it and bake it in the hot oven where it doubles in size again. It’s such a simple yet wonderful food, one of my favourites! Nothing beats a slice of fresh warm bread spread with butter or sprinkled with olive oil. So many people from different cultures celebrate this ritual, with similar recipes even though they live on opposite sides of the world. It’s one of our traditions that connects us and shows how much we have in common.

I have a good friend who lives in Sydney and whenever he comes to Berlin we all meet at our’s together with a few of our friends. Sometimes it’s a big dinner, sometimes we just have some wine and snacks. The only problem is that he never tells me in advance, it’s a very spontaneous thing, he’s just here at one point. Followed by another 10 – 15 people. This calls for some improvisation tricks in the kitchen, we just have to eat what my fridge offers!

Around two years ago he called to announce his arrival and I was lucky to have a few pumpkins in my kitchen, so a soup for 10 was quickly thrown together. For whatever reason I had lots of black olives as well. I like to have more than enough good bread on my table when it’s a long night so I decided to bake 2 loaves of olive bread with lots of olives and olive oil, juicy enough to nibble on after finishing the soup. The texture is light but you taste and feel the olives and the olive oil, it makes the bread really smooth. Everybody loved it and couldn’t stop eating it. This was a feast to me, it always is, sitting together with friends at my long wooden table, talking, laughing and enjoying some red wine and nice bread.

Tomorrow it’s my Sandwich Wednesday again and I will make a special sandwich with this bread which is very popular in the Middle East!

Black + Green Olive Bread

A Juicy Bread with Black and Green Olives

For 1 loaf of bread you need

plain flour 250g / 9 ounces
(I use spelt flour type 630 but you can use any other plain flour)
dry yeast 1 tablespoon
salt 1/2 teaspoon
a pinch of sugar
water, lukewarm, 70ml
milk, lukewarm, 70ml
butter 1 tablespoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons
black and green olives, chopped, 60g / 2 ounces

Combine the dry ingredients and add the water, milk, butter and olive oil. Mix with your dough hooks till everything is combined. Add the olives and continue mixing for a few minutes. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball, it will be a little sticky but that’s fine. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel.

Option1:
When I prepare the dough the day before I bake it, I put the bowl with the dough in the fridge (covered with cling film) and let it rise overnight. You will have to take it out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before you can continue with the next steps.

Option 2:
In case I want to bake my bread the same day, I let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven for 45 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top / bottom heat and not to fan.

When the dough has doubled in size, take it out, punch it down and knead with your hands for 2 minutes. Form the dough in a long loaf shape and put it on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for another 25 – 35 minutes in a warm place.

Set your oven to 200°C / 390°F top / bottom heat.

Bake the bread for 30 minutes or until cooked through. If you’re not sure if it’s done turn the bread around and knock on its underside, it should sound hollow. Let it cool for 5 – 10 minutes, cut a thick slice off it and drizzle some olive oil on top, just a bit, and sprinkle with salt.

Black + Green Olive Bread

White Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta

White Pizza with Spinach

A few years ago curiosity got the better of me and I tried a “white pizza” at one of my favourite pizza restaurants. White pizza is made without tomatoes and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had my virgin white pizza moment with a spinach and ricotta topping and all my reservations melted away after the first bite. Lighter and with more space for the single ingredients, the absence of tomato sauce didn’t lessen that feel good pizza pleasure.

I wrote about my Sunday pizza tradition a few weeks ago and yesterday was no exception. It has been ages since my last white pizza and, as it’s been on my mind for a while, I bought some crisp winter spinach and ricotta. To finish it off I added some olive oil infused with garlic and some crushed black pepper. The dough was light and crisp, it soaked some oil, but not too much, a bit like a Focaccia. The spinach was crisp and had some bite as in winter it’s a bit thicker while the ricotta brought a touch of velvety smoothness.

White Pizza with Spinach

White Pizza with Winter Spinach, Ricotta and Olive Oil

I start to prepare the dough 2 hours before I bake it to give it enough time to rise.

For 1 big pizza (size of 1 baking sheet) you need

For the topping

fresh spinach, rinsed, 250g / 9 ounces
fresh ricotta 250g / 9 ounces
oilve oil 4-6 tablespoons
garlic, cut in half, 1 clove
salt and crushed black pepper

Warm up the olive oil together with the garlic for 2-3 minutes.

For the dough

plain flour 350g / 12.5 ounces plus more for mixing
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
water, lukewarm,  190ml
olive oil 3 tablespoons
salt 1 teaspoon

Combine the flour with the yeast and salt, add the olive oil and the lukewarm water, slowly, not all at once (you might not need all of it). Mix with your dough hooks for a few minutes. The dough shouldn’t be moist and sticky at all, more on the dry side. Continue kneading and punching with your hands until you have an elastic dough ball, not too hard, not sticky. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 40 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

When the dough is well risen, roll it out on a very well floured (this is very important!) working surface. It should be a bit smaller than the size of your baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise for another 10-15 minutes.

The pizza

Set your oven to 260°C / 500°F. My oven has a special pizza setting but you can use top / bottom heat as well. Put the baking sheet on the bottom of your oven to heat it.

Take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, flip it over and place it carefully on two stable wooden boards or mats as it will be very hot. Place your risen dough carefully but quickly (best done by two people) on the baking sheet, push it gently into place if necessary. Sprinkle the olive oil and the ricotta in lumps on top. Put the baking sheet back into the oven, on the bottom again, and bake for a few minutes until the pizza is golden. Take it out and spread the spinach on top immediately. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle some more olive oil on top if you like and enjoy!

White Pizza with Spinach

Mousse au Chocolat meets Olive Oil

Mousse Au Chocolat

My Mousse au Chocolat has all the finer qualities of a sumptuous mousse. Bittersweet chocolate rubs against an unexpected but perfect match, olive oil, thick and nutty with a little espresso. I know it sounds unusual but this combination is absolutely delicious! It’s luscious, a special treat for the weekend, perfect after an opulent dinner. I don’t make chocolate mousse all too often but sometimes I just need chocolate in its most concentrated and dense form and then it’s time for this dessert.

The olive oil adds something to the chocolate that is hard to describe but so easy to enjoy. If you try to imagine it you won’t even get close to it, you just have to feel and taste it in your mouth!

Mousse Au Chocolat

Mousse au Chocolat with Olive Oil

For 4 people you need

bittersweet chocolate, melted, 100g / 3.5 ounces
butter, melted, 60g / 2 ounces
organic eggs 3
sugar 70 g / 2.5 ounces
good olive oil 6 tablespoons
espresso 1 teaspoon
a pinch of salt

Mix the melted butter, chocolate, olive oil and espresso. Beat the egg whites together with the salt. Beat the egg yolks and the sugar and mix together with the chocolate mixture. Stir 2 spoons of the stiff egg whites under the chocolate mixture. Stir the rest of the egg whites under the mixture as well, carefully, to preserve the light fluffiness. Fill into 4 forms and cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

It’s time for soup! The colder it gets the more I feel like food that is up-lefting and soul-warming. Something that makes me feel strong and prepares me for the cold, dark months ahead of me. Although I love winter, the snow, even the cold, when you get cosy inside, slow down and relax, it’s important to treat yourself to the right food to renew your body and mind.

I’m in the mood for a thick soup, smooth but light – like my Minestrone with big butter beans and fennel with some parsley and black olives sprinkled on top. The texture is velvety and it tastes a bit sweet. Today I add a piece of bacon to it as I feel like something deeper in taste. Usually I cook the vegetarian version, I don’t prefer one over the other, both are nice winter treats!

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

Butter Bean and Fennel Soup

Keep in mind that you have to soak the dried beans in water overnight. I like to cook soups in bigger batches to store some in the freezer – great for busy days. This recipe is for 4 people, sometimes I even double the amount.

dried butter beans or Cannellini beans, soaked in cold water overnight, 250g / 9 ounces
fennel, rinsed, cut in thin slices, 300g / 10.5 ounces
celery stalk, cut in cubes, 1
onion, cut in cubes, 1
broth or water, around 1500 ml
optional: a piece of bacon, 40g / 1.5 ounces
garlic, crushed, 1 clove
bay leaf, 1
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
parsley, chopped, for topping, 2 tablespoons
black olives, chopped, for topping, 4
good olive oil for topping

Heat some oil in a large pot. Fry the onion, celery, garlic and bacon (left in one piece) for a few minutes. Add the fennel, take the beans out of the water and put them into the pot as well. Fill with broth, add the bay leaf and close with a lid. Don’t season with salt before the beans are done or they won’t become soft. Cook for 30 minutes or until the beans are soft. Depending on the bean’s texture it may take another 30 minutes. Mine needed 60 minutes today but I must admit that I found them in a dark corner of my shelf.

When the beans are done, take out half of the vegetables (cooked beans and fennel) and put them to the side. Mix the other half of the vegetables together with the liquid in a blender and season with salt and pepper. Put everything back into the pot together with the remaining vegetables. When you arrange the soup in soup bowls sprinkle with olives and parsley and drizzle your best olive oil on top.

A Sicilian Salad with Oranges, Oregano and Olive Oil

Oranges, Oregano + Olive Oil

My friends and family live all over the world. On the big festive days of the year, we spend quite a bit of time on Skype to share the special moments. We talk and laugh and – very often – show each other what we cook for our festive meals. Yesterday, my boyfriend’s mother Jenny, presented a beautiful piece of ham that she had just pulled out of her oven. It looked so tempting! She also told me about the orange tree in her garden in Malta which is sagging with oranges and held a huge box of oranges for me to see. I knew what I would have for lunch today: my Sicilian salad with oranges, oregano and very good olive oil!

I know this combination sounds a bit extraordinary. It is another one of my Sicilian discoveries which I had for breakfast at a little farm in Noto two years ago. They used the oregano which grew on their farm and it was the best oregano I ever had in my life. It was unbelievably good! I never thought there could be such big differences in the taste of oregano.

This salad makes a perfect snack after the last Christmas days of culinary richness – refreshing, light and comfortable. All you need to do is to peel two oranges (including the softer inner skin) and cut them in thick slices. Drizzle some good olive oil on top and sprinkle with dried or fresh oregano and a bit of salt.

Oranges, Oregano + Olive Oil