Thursday, January 5, 2017

winter solstice/entrance of the minor cold

Land awakens and blooms with life and activity before returning to slumber.

Based on an ancient lunar calendar Japanese year is divided in 72 microseasons, each of them offering a 'poetic journey' through the year. Today is January 5 and that means it’s the end of winter solstice and “Wheat sprouts under snow” microseason, and beginning of minor cold “The water dropwort flourishes” microseason, season that lasts approximately from January 6 – 10.

Not knowing in advance that kumquat is a seasonal fruit of  “Wheat sprouts under snow” microseason, I produced few jars of compote made with this smallest of the citrus fruits. What I love the most about kumquat is the skin, edible, golden, sweet-tasting skin. Like any other fruit it’s not possible to keep it fresh for a longer time and making compote is a way of preserving it. 

Recipe for this light sweet delight is adopted from Diana Yen, food stylist and caterer from Brooklyn and can be found on page 88 of The Kinfolk Table, book of recipes for small gatherings. 

Kumquat Compote
200g sugar
240ml water
455g kumquats, well washed, halved or quartered, and seeded
2 star anise pods
2 cardamom pods
about 1.28 cm slices of fresh ginger  

In a heavy saucepan stir together water and sugar and brig the mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add kumquats and spices (star anise, ginger and cardamom) and let simmer for about 30 minutes on medium heat or until mixture is thickened and jamlike. Place the compote to one big jar or few small jars (240ml) with fitting lids and store in cold dark place. 

My New Year was simple and days that followed were dusted with light snow. The remains of white cover balance these shorter days, few hours of sunlight. I am lucky to have few days off and fortune to spent hours in kitchen. 
With this easy to make golden jars filled with slightly acidic and bittersweet citrus flesh be ready to celebrate passed days with just simple click of the lid. Well stored is always ready for any kind of celebration.

Eat well and be happy in your lives! 
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

ode to autumn

Sticky semolina-quince cake
 1 cup semolina
1 cup ground walnuts
1 and 1/3 cups sugar
12g baking powder
1 cup milk, plus 100ml
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups quince (peeled and grated)

Preheat the oven to 180C. With a wooden spoon mix gently all ingredients in one bowl. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan (lined with parchment paper) and bake for about 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan warm 100ml of milk over medium heat until it starts boiling. 
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven drizzle boiling milk over a hot cake and leave to cool slightly. 

Best served with homemade yogurt ice cream!

Homemade yogurt ice cream
350g plain yogurt
250g creme fraiche
100g icing sugar (sifted)
1 tbsp vanilla paste 

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before mixing. Combine all and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a fridge until mixture is completely chilled (at least 2-3 hours). 
Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions and then transfer it to a container and freeze until firm.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

challah virus

Almost a month ago I caught  a virus called challah. The symptoms are pretty easy to describe, during night you knead challah dough and it repeats night after night until you use all duck eggs. And no, the recipe does not require duck eggs but it happened that I got one of the best gifts recently from my foodie friend Smiljana. She gave me free range duck eggs and I started to knead and bake like crazy. And not any recipe for basic challah dough, but the very special one from the Molly on the Range cookbook recently written by Molly Yeh, quin of sprinkles. Have to say that so far I only tried her mouthwatering cake recipes but the contagious video for this bread recipe was shared by Betty Liu - scallion pancake challah. And all is true, this dough is amazingly simple to make, trust the more experience blogger and follow all the steps described and you will end up making it on a regular basis. 

Scallion Pancake Challah / Adopted from Betty Liu / Recipe: Molly Yeh

makes 2 loaves

Basic Challah Dough 
4 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1  1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
6 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs (duck eggs for golden yellow color)
2/3 cup flavorless oil
1/4 cup additional sweetener: sugar, brown sugar, honey, or molasses
egg wash: 1 large egg yolk (duck egg yolk for getting this shiny crust on top) + 1 tbsp water

In a medium bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and give it a little stir. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together the flour, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and additional sweetener.
When the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture immediately followed by the egg mixture and stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with the dough hook until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough. 7-10 minutes, adding more white flour as necessary.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Or, stick in the fridge overnight and let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before shaping.

For scallion pancake challah
6 scallions, minced
3 tbsp sesame oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
salt and black pepper
crushed red pepper
egg wash: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water
toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 190C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide dough into 2 parts. Put one aside and cover with plastic wrap. Divide the other half into 3 equal parts and roll into 12 inch logs. Gently flatten each log so that it is about 3 inches wide. Brush with sesame oil, sprinkle with scallions, salt, black pepper, red pepper. Roll logs up lengthwise and pinch seams to seal. Lay logs next to each other and pinch them together at one end (see GIFs by clicking on Betty Liu name above). Braid and pinch at other end. Place loaf on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with other half of dough. Let rise 30 minutes.
Brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds and black pepper coarse sea salt.
Bake until loaf is golden brown and has an internal temperature of 190F, around 28 minutes (30 minutes in my case :)).

This bread is really special, please make it and taste it. This virus is worth of spreading!!