Rainy day comfort (2 recipes)

The days are really getting shorter and darker. It’s about a month before the shortest day of the year and the sun isn’t rising to the centre of the sky any more. The rain has also been persistent and there is a general feeling of greyness, but it seams like I’m not the only one feeling this way.  Apparently, and not surprisingly, it’s the time of year that mice and rats also try and get away from the cold and come scavenging in dry warm places. So the resident rat from our compost heap has decided to come feast on some chocolate I left out the other night and kept J up all night, running up in the loft.

Not eating glutinous foods means that sandwiches are a bit of a challenge. I also find myself missing bread, rolls and doughy foods in general. It’s a time for comforting food, bright Autumn colours and warm fuzzy feelings, so I set out to experiment with making bread.

In Britain there might be large ‘Free Form’ section in the supermarkets but the bread is inedible. In our latest visit to Israel we were overwhelmed by the selection and quality of gluten free baked goods. It seams that when Israeli’s catch onto a fad, they utilise it to the fullest and don’t give up until they reach excellence. Be it chocolate, wine, beer or cheese, Israeli’s manage to reach world class quality. So the latest fad is gluten free food and a few bakeries have developed gluten free breads and a range of flours and products to the highest standard. There are also some cookbooks out, offering yummy and gluten free recipes.

 

Continuing my experimentation with the less explored teff flour, I decided to try and make gluten free ciabatta rolls. I also made some ‘escaped the compost heap’ Autumn Roasted Veg which can be used in a warm salad or to fill the ciabatta.

This experiment was not a fully successful one and there are amendments I will make the next time I bake these, but the main conclusions are that the recipe is easy enough to make and the end result is a nice bread substitute which actually tastes of bread.

 

The buns turned out quite flaky and didn’t rise to an impressive size, but a lovely smell of freshly baked bread spreads in the house and the rolls had a good flavour. For a gluten free house it’s an unusual treat.

Here are the recipes:

Teff Flour Ciabattas

Based on ciabatta recipe from the Abrahamson cook book, with my adjustments.

Ingredients:

250gr Potato flour

250gr teff flour (can be substituted by soya, quinoa or rice flour)

1tsp salt

1 egg

1/4cup olive oil

2tbsp Agave nectar (or Silan)

1tsp sugar

14gr dry yeast

1cup ‘blood-warm’ water (not hot)

Method:

1.  In a small bowl combine the dry yeast and sugar, and mix in the water and set aside

2. In a large bowl, combine (but don’t mix yet) both flours, the salt, egg, oil and agave nectar

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl and use an electric mixer to combine all the ingredients into a consistent thick and sticky paste

4. Set the dough to rest in a warm place for one hour or until it doubles in size.

5. When the dough has risen, turn it onto a surface, dusted with some gluten free flour (I used quinoa flour for a contrast) and tap it down with a spatula or your hands to a thickness of about 1cm

6. Use a knife to split the dough to 10 squares and transfer them to  lined baking tray, shaping them to rounded rectangles (The dough will still be sticky and tricky to handle so be gentle and don’t panic)

7. Heat the oven to 150˚c and set the shaped rolls to rise in a warm place for a further 30min

8. Bake the rolls for 15-17 minutes

Enjoy warm or freeze and then warm up again in the oven.

‘Escaped the compost heap’ Autumn Roasted Veg

This recipe has no roles. Use any ‘roast-able’ vegetables you have in the house. This is what I had.

Ingredients:

1 Sweet potato

3 Parsnips

200gr Mushrooms

1 Aubergine

1 large Red Onion

2 large or 5 small Carrots

5 Garlic cloves – Two peeled and roughly chopped and three smashed with the peel on

1 tsp each of: Flaked Chillies, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Turmeric Powder – crushed in a pestle & mortar or a spice grinder

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

3 large gluggs of Red Wine Vinegar

3 large gluggs of Olive Oil

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 190˚c

2. Peel the sweet potato, parsnip, carrots and onion and then chop all the veg to similar size pieces, then place in a roasting pan (line it with foil to make your life easier later)

3. Toss in the garlic and spices and pour in the red wine vinegar and olive oil and give it all a good mix, so the veg is well coated

4. Roast for 1hr or until the vegetables are soft but not burned.

5. Serve as a wam toping to a salad with greens, nuts and blue cheese and dress with a light vinaigrette or mix into cooked quinoa or add goats cheese, drizzle with honey and thyme and put under the grill for a few minute.

Bete’avon

Good and bad design in times of war

This week started with a funeral. Even if you don’t know the deceased, it’s always sad to see someone you love mourn and go through the pain of losing a family member. By mid week, when I went to the Shiva Things seamed a bit calmer and were made even better by learning about the cease fire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

My Facebook feed however was still overflown with images, videos and messages regarding the conflict. Most were poorly put together and totally un-readable on my phone screen. It felt like the quantity was more important than the quality of the post and the visual message was totally forgotten. On the other hand, I was very impressed by the style of IDF’s publicity campaign. With clear, clean and simple messages I think they did a really good job of trying to explain and justify a very difficult message. The ‘Likes’ and support messages they published were a bit less tasteful in my eyes. An act of war is not something to be ‘Liked’ and a ‘Defence Force’ should act like one in it’s publicity too.

But then comes the boss of graphic responses and blows everyone out of the water, with a big splash.

Here are some examples, starting with these bad posts, moving onto the better ones and ending with Yossi Lemel’s posters:

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So the current round of fighting has come to an end and my mourning friend’s son, my cousin and many more Israeli men and woman were discharged from their fighting ‘call up’ and could go back to ‘normal’ life. The Gazan’s are hopefully able to start re-building their lives and so will the Israeli civilians living near the Gaza strip.

But it’s these civilians who have the power to change the governing body’s course of action by demanding peace rather than terrorism, revenge and war.

Hello world! Have some brownies!

Welcome to my blog. I hope I do well in keeping it updated.

It is a tradition in my family to bring cake for every occasion, so for the opening of my blog, I brought you some Brownies.

It’s been a confusing day. When I work I like listening to Israeli radio online, especially on Friday mornings. It’s a music station but today the music was interrupted by notifications of rockets falling on towns in Israel. Scary! The I went to the kitchen for lunch and turned on BBC Radio 2, who are all cheerful about their ‘Children in Need’ campaign. So I’m emotionally confused and in these situations baking is a good comfort.

I decided to experiment with Brownies and felt it will be a nice thing to share as my first blog post. I’m trying to convert favourite recipes to be gluten free, and on our latest visit to Israel we went to an Ethiopian grocery shop and bought some Teff flour. It’s gluten free (which is the way we are eating now) and supposedly very nutritious.

Brownies aren’t that nutritious but don’t require a large amount of flour. I looked at Nigella’s recipe for flour-less brownies but I didn’t have the required ground almonds, so I settled for the easiest brownie recipe I know from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals book and made some adjustments, replacing the 4 heaped tablespoons of self-raising flour with teff flour and 1 tsp of baking powder and omitting one of the eggs. You know what, it worked!

This is my recipe for Teff Flour Gluten Free Brownies (with a minty flavour):

Ingredients:

2 x 100g bars of goo- quality dark chocolate (min 60% coca solids), I used Lindt excellence 85% but usually i use the 70%

250g unsalted butter at room temp

200g golden caster sugar

6tbsp (level) good quality coca powder

4tbsp (heaped) teff flour

1tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1 sache mint chocolate fudge drink (This is optional and only because I had it at home. You can use any flavouring or not at all. Jamie Oliver’s recipe suggests you use a handful of crystallised stem ginger  )

1. Turn the oven on to 180˚C and put the standard blade attachment into your food processor

2. Break up the chocolate and chop the butter into the food processor

3. Add the sugar, coca powder, Teff flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and mint fudge

4. Whiz together and while the processor is running, add the eggs, one by one

5. This is a great tip from Jamie Oliver: scrunch up a large enough piece of greaseproof paper under a tap. Flatten it, lay it in a baking tray (approx 32x26cm) and drizzle with olive oil, or use the butter wrapping paper to grease and rub it in.

6. Using a spatula, spread the brownie mixture evenly onto the tray, about 2.5cm thick.

7. At this point you can sprinkle toppings over, such as pecan nuts & dried cherries or hazelnuts & raisins or even dunk white chocolate chunks for a nice contrast. I kept it simple this time.

8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25min. The brownies should be gooey but hold their shape.

Enjoy 🙂  Shabbat Shalom everyone