Monthly Archives: September 2012

Salted Caramel Focaccia with Rosemary and Vanilla

This is my second time to take part in the Fresh from the Oven Challenge and with such a delicious looking Salted Caramel Focaccia …… and not having made a sweet focaccia before, how could I resist. Euan suggested using fresh candied citrus peel (apple and other fruits could also be used) and luckily I had some candied orange peel that I had made some months back. No candied lemon peel and oo type flour though… but no worries, one can always try to improvise! 

I always try to keep a few pots of fresh herbs growing in the garden throughout the year and rosemary being one of them manages to survive our searing hot summers! A combination of fresh  rosemary, home-candied orange peel, fresh lemon zest (use a microplane grater for best results) and a few vanilla products from my store cupboard, I thought would work nicely with this recipe!

The original recipe and method of making the Salted Caramel Focaccia is found over at Euan’s blog Signor Biscotti who is hosting this months Fresh from the Oven Challenge. Some changes were made to the original recipe and are as follows:

  • Not having type 00 flour, replaced with all-purpose flour
  • Used vanilla infused sugar instead of castor sugar throughout the recipe
  • Used vanilla infused olive oil instead of olive oil
  • Used 75g of home-candied orange peel instead of the 100g of mixed peel
  • Omitted the raisins
  • Added the zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • Used ordinary salted butter
  • Used 3 teaspoons of freshly chopped rosemary, 2 for mixing in with the dough and 1 for sprinkling over the top before baking

After mixing the dough I found it was not as sticky as Euan described (possibly the flours used), but tossed it on a work surface and gave the dough a good work-out by hand, a very therapeutic process! I hope to try the french technique for kneading dough another time… interesting video to watch (link on Euan’s blog), my dough was definitely not as sticky as the one chef Paul worked on or should I say slapped around his work surface!

Incorporated the candied orange peel, lemon zest and rosemary into the dough, which was then placed into an oiled bowl and covered with some cling film. The dough took about one hour and forty minutes to double in size.

 Used a baking stone with its own tray (lightly oiled) to shape the dough on. A swivel peeler enabled me to shave thin slices of cold salted butter directly over the dough, before sprinkling over the vanilla infused sugar and remaining fresh rosemary. Loosely covered with cling film, the tray with the dough was left for almost an hour to rise before dimpling and baking on top of the baking stone (pre-heated in the oven) for almost 20 minutes. The results… Fantastico… Delizioso pane appena sfornato... loved this recipe, it was so delicious with its crunchy sweet crust, using fresh candied orange peel made a big difference to the flavour and the touch of fresh rosemary was not overpowering.  Will definitely make this focaccia again and will try using some candied lemon peel also, which I need to stock up on! Although most of the focaccia was eaten (some restraint was greatly needed) the same day… polished it off the next morning (I did share some) for breakfast and although the crunchy crust had dissolved, it was still enjoyed!

Sweet Date and Coconut Sauce

Everyone gets their own little cup for dunking some fresh fruit into this easy dessert sauce, made from date syrupfresh coconut cream, flavoured with pandan leaf and vanilla!  A sweet exotic sauce inspired by the cuisine of Bali, which use palm sugar, coconut and pandan leaf in many of their sweet and savoury dishes! Attending a cooking class some years back at Bumbu Bali and the many times we dinned at the restaurant gave me a deeper understanding of how authentic Balinese food is prepared and cooked using many wonderful aromatic spices!

Popular in the middle east where there is an abundance of date palms, date syrup is sweet without being overly cloying and can be used to replace other molasses wherever treacle and syrups are traditionally used… delicious drizzled over pancakes and waffles!

Brands of tinned coconut cream vary, some containing lots of additives, do check the label and buy the best quality you can find! If you are lucky enough to have a supermarket that grates fresh coconut (Lulu in Bahrain, saving you the trouble), why not make your own fresh coconut cream… which I will post with another recipe!

Infusing date syrup and coconut cream with pandan leaf releases its earthy fragrance (which needs heat or bruising), adding a subtle unique grassy flavour to this sweet sauce!

A sweet sauce that is easily adaptable by infusing the sauce with other spices, like star anise or cinnamon. Replace the coconut cream with fresh cream or simply serve this sweet sauce drizzled over some vanilla or mango ice cream for another quick dessert!

Sweet Date and Coconut Sauce with Fresh Fruit

Ingredients:

  • 125g date syrup
  • 300g coconut cream
  • 1 pandan leaf (screwpine), tied in a knot
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons rice flour or cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (home-made) or store bought
  • for garnish, freshly grated coconut ( or moisten dried coconut with a little coconut cream)
  • for serving, fresh pineapple, banana and apple, cut into cubes (squeeze a little lemon juice over the cut fruit to keep its colour)

How to make:  Pour the date syrup and coconut cream into a small saucepan, add the pandan leaf. Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice or cornflour mixture and cook for about two minutes, remove from heat and discard the pandan leaf. Stir in the vanilla extract and let the sauce cool before storing in the refrigerator.

To serve: Pour the chilled sauce into small cups or dishes and sprinkle over some fresh coconut, serve with freshly prepared fruit! Serves 6.

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop hosted by the The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader check out all the other delicious entries here!

Feta Cheese with Preserved Lemon and Vanilla Infused Olive Oil and A Photography Challenge

One of the food blogs that I follow, Jennifer from Delicieux  had recently taken part in a food photography challenge, set by another food blogger Simone from Jungle Frog Cooking! Hopping over to Simone’s blog I noticed another photography challenge for September… a dominant  white theme a little colour allowed, but only to highlight the white! With everything around me that I needed… why not give it a try!

I have purposely posted other photographs to show how the lighting and camera settings posed a challenge and affected how some of the images looked. The first and last photographs are the images I am happiest with and I was very undecided which one to put at the top of this post!

With some vanilla olive oil, preserved lemons, feta cheese and props, I set about creating a photograph and recipe around the theme. I used props with different tones of white, some with texture and composed them in a way that appealed to me for this photo shoot… also paying attention to the available natural light and camera settings as I took the photographs!

Placed a fresh white frangipani flower from the garden into the small vase brought in another element of colour, with its yellow center!

Placed the prepared recipe of feta cheese, preserved lemons (adding more colour) coated with a little vanilla infused olive oil into the dishes and again some exposure compensations needed adjusting, as I was using aperture setting on the camera!

I stayed away from manual setting on the camera this time and as it was already late in the afternoon, daylight in Bahrain disappears right before your eyes! Trying (which I would have been) to use manual setting and a race against the setting sun would have probably left me in the dark!

You know when you say to yourself “let me try just one more photograph,” stuck a yellow cocktail stick into the feta cheese, removed some props… and it’s a wrap!

A very simple and delicious appetizer that is very easy to prepare! Although I recommend the preserved lemons for their salty lemony flavour and vanilla infused olive oil for its subtle sweetness, fresh lemon zest and a walnut infused olive oil is another alternative! I used a creamy feta cheese which was not so salty, bearing in mind the saltiness of preserved lemons!

Feta Cheese with Preserved Lemon and Vanilla Infused Olive Oil

Ingredients:

How to make: Pace the feta cheese and preserved lemon into a bowl, drizzle over some vanilla olive oil, you just want the oil to coat the feta cheese. Gently mix together, cover with some cling film and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours for the flavours to mingle. Place the feta cheese into small bowls and stick some cocktail sticks into cubes of feta cheese for easy serving!

Would like to know your views and tips when shooting white?

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