15 June 2018

NO-KNEAD RUSTIC FOCACCIA BREAD

No-knead breads are so simple and easy to make, yet they are so delicious once they are baked. There isn’t much work involved – just one bowl, a wooden spoon, and a few ingredients. And the finished result is a lovely, golden, chewy, open crumb bread, that is just perfect for any type of sandwich. This is a rather small quantity of ingredients, so do not hesitate to double (or even triple!) the quantities if you need to feed a crowd.


Ingredients
400 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon dry yeast
350 ml warm water
50 ml extra virgin olive oil

Preparation
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the yeast, and mix very well. Next, add the salt and mix again. Pour in the water and stir with a wooden spoon until a very soft and sticky dough forms. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise, in a warm spot, for 18 hours. When the dough is ready, pour it onto a large baking sheet lined with baking paper. It will be too soft to shape by hand, so use a spatula to form it into a rectangle, and poke holes with your finger all over the surface of the dough.
It really doesn't need to be perfectly shaped, because it will rise unevenly as it bakes, which is perfectly fine. Brush it with the olive oil generously, then bake in a preheated oven, at 220°C (425°F), for about 30 minutes. Check the focaccia relatively frequently after 20 minutes, to prevent the burning of the edges, because they are the thinnest part of the bread. When the bread is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature, then serve.
Baker's note: The quantities are for a relatively small focaccia bread loaf. If you wish, double the quantities, and bake the loaf longer, for about 40 minutes, checking often.

08 June 2018

CINNAMON ROLL BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE

Cinnamon rolls are one of the breakfast favourites, but they do take time to make, and sometimes mornings can get hectic. This smoothie version is just as delicious and rich, but it takes a fragment of time to make, and if you opt for maple syrup, it is completely suitable for vegans. It could not be easier to make – just blend everything, and enjoy.
It really does taste like a cinnamon roll ice-cream, and it is all because it starts off with frozen ripe bananas, and the smooth vanilla yogurt. Because it has a thicker texture, serve it with a large straw, or even as a smoothie bowl, with some additional banana slices on top. Otherwise, feel free to add more milk if you like your smoothies on a thinner side.


Ingredients
250 grams frozen ripe bananas
120 grams dairy-free vanilla yogurt
50 grams old-fashioned oats
250 ml oat milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon caramel sauce or maple syrup
1 tablespoon raw honey

Preparation
Place the chopped bananas and the yogurt in a blender and let it run until completely smooth. Add in the oats, and let the blender run again until they are fully blended. Pour in the milk, honey, caramel sauce, and the cinnamon, and blend really well again.
Pour into two tall glasses and serve immediately, or place them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, to chill the smoothie further, giving it more of an ice-cream texture. Yields 2 large servings.

01 June 2018

DARK CHOCOLATE SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Shortbread cookies are so easy to make, yet so very delicious. They are great on their own, but even better with a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate. One important thing to keep in mind is the quality of the cocoa powder. The higher the cocoa quality, the better the cookies. It gives them a really deep, almost bitter chocolate flavour.
They do not have much sugar in them, and you can very easily use them as sandwich cookies with ice-cream, or with a simple buttercream filling. You do not need a mixer for these, just a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon. Because you do not whip much air in them, they stay relatively flat and they do not spread when baked, so you can crowd the baking sheet a little.


Ingredients
200 grams butter, softened
3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
200 grams plain flour
8 tablespoons high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation
Place the softened butter in a large bowl, add in the sugar, and blend it really well with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Keep blending until you no longer feel the grains of sugar. Once the butter is creamed well, sift in the cocoa powder, along with the ground cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend it with a wooden spoon again. The batter should resemble a thick chocolate frosting. Sift in half of the flour, mix very well, then sift in the other half, and mix until a soft dough comes together. At that point, wrap the dough in cling film, and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Once the dough has chilled, lightly dust the work surface with flour, roll the dough to about 5 mm thick, and cut out cookies with a small cookie cutter (2.5 cm). Arrange the cookies on two large baking sheets, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F), for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure you do not overbake them, because they will be too brittle if you do. Once baked, remove them from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheets for about 10-15 minutes, to firm up. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely, and store them in a covered container. Yields 60 small cookies.

25 May 2018

OVERNIGHT GARLIC KNOTS

Garlic knots are a lovely, soft, flavourful snack, that was originally created as a way of using up scraps of dough in pizzerias. The dough is simply rolled into logs, quickly tied into knots, and then smothered in garlic butter. And if you are a garlic lover, these will be just right for you.
They are very easily tailored; you can make them larger, by dividing the dough into sixteen or less pieces, so they can be a fantastic version of dinner rolls. You can also add more garlic to the butter, if you wish. Moreover, they are amazing with marinara sauce, and all cheese-based sauces.


Ingredients
450 grams soft bread flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
200 grams plain yogurt
120 ml tepid water
2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
100 grams unsalted butter
2-3 teaspoons granulated garlic, to taste

Preparation
Sift the flour twice and add it to a large bowl, then pour in the yogurt, oil, water, and salt and whisk it well. Add in the yeast, and mix it well with a wooden spoon, until a creamy batter forms. Then, slowly start adding the rest of the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon at first, then kneading with your hands, until all of the flour is used. Place the dough in a large bowl, and wrap the top tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, take the dough out and gently knead it on a well-floured surface for a few minutes, then divide it into twenty equal parts.
Shape each dough piece into a rope, then carefully tie a knot, being careful not to tear the dough whilst doing so. Arrange the knots on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper, cover them with a clean kitchen towel, and let them rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, melt the butter, and let it cool down slightly. Add the granulated garlic, and mix well so it starts to dissolve. Just before baking, brush the knots generously with the garlic butter, then bake in a preheated oven, at 200°C (400°F), for about 15-20 minutes. Check them often so they do not overbake. Serve warm. Yields 20 garlic knots.

18 May 2018

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE VEGAN FUDGE BROWNIES

Whether you cannot, or you simply do not want to use eggs in dessert recipes, these are the right brownies for you. They are so dense and fudgy, with a fantastic, deep dark chocolate flavour, and a lovely dash of sweetness from the white chocolate. They do not have any sugar added, as there is plenty of sugar in the chocolate.
Serve them with some melted chocolate, fresh fruit, or if you want to, with an ice-cream of your choice; they will be fantastic whatever you choose as an addition. Make sure you check the ingredients for both types of chocolate, because even some dark chocolates can still contain milk or dairy products.


Ingredients
200 grams dark chocolate
250 grams unsweetened applesauce
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
150 grams vegan white chocolate

Preparation
Place a saucepan on medium heat, and add in the chopped up dark chocolate. Let it melt, then set it aside to cool down slightly. Take a large bowl, sift in the flour and the cocoa powder, then whisk everything really well. You can even sift them together for a second time, if you wish. Add in the applesauce, and vanilla, and whisk everything together again. Once the chocolate has cooled, add it to the batter, and blend well with a whisk. Finally, add in the chopped white chocolate, and fold it through.
Take a square baking pan (20x20 cm), line it with baking parchment, then pour in the batter, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F) for about 15 minutes. Check them with a toothpick even before 15 minutes is up, because if they overbake, they will be dry and very crumbly. Once they are done, let them cool down in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack completely. Serve them completely cool or even after chilling in the refrigerator for an hour. Yields 12 servings.