Tag: olive oil

Fig and Olive Oil Challah

Fig Challah // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Fig Challah // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fig Challah // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

On Rosh Hashanah, I did something really un-Jewish and un-Kosher by making shrimp for dinner. But I kind of half made up for it by making fig, olive oil, and sea salt challah from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. And that makes things kind of ok, right? (Let’s not even talk about the fact that there was no fasting or breaking of fast on Yom Kippur as I had band practice and work, both of which require much sustenance. Don’t tell my Bubbe.)

This challah has been on my “to make” list for so long. I was waiting for figs to be in season (only to realize after I went to the store and bought fresh figs that the recipe calls for dried figs… oops… way to follow your own rules, Annie) AND I’d never made challah before. TERRIBLE JEW, I know. But you know, bread is mildly scary to me, and braided bread that’s supposed to look all shiny and pretty? That much scarier. But a holiday is a good enough reason to man up and do anything, so I went for it. And man oh man, it was good. This recipe is pretty much straight from Smitten Kitchen.

Fig and Olive Oil Challah

Ingredients

Bread

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp honey
1/3 cup olive oil, plus some for the bowl
2 eggs
2 tsp flaky sea salt (such as Maldon, which you really should have around because you should be putting it on everything because it is awesome)
4 cups all-purpose flour

Fig Filling

1 cup dried figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
1/8 tsp orange zest (I eyeballed this, because you know, who has an 1/8 tsp measure)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/8 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (you’ll only need a few grinds)

Egg Wash

1 egg
flaky sea salt

Instructions

Bread

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and 1 tsp of honey with 2/3 cup of warm water. Stir it up, and let it sit for a few minutes until it gets foamy. In the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment (or you know, with a wooden spoon and a bowl if that’s your jam), combine the yeast mixture with the rest of the honey, the olive oil, and the eggs. Then add the flour and salt, and mix it until the dough starts to come together. Once it comes together, switch to the dough hook and let it run on low for 5-8 minutes. Put the dough on the counter for a moment while you coat the bowl in olive oil, put the dough back in the bowl, and cover with saran wrap for an hour, or until the dough doubles in size.

Fig Filling

While the dough is rising, it’s fig paste time. Put the figs, zest, water, juice, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook this fig mixture until the pieces of fig are soft, having absorbed the water and juice, stirring occasionally (should take about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat, and allow to cool for a while before putting it in a food processor and processing until it resembles a paste, like a relatively smooth jam. Set it aside to cool the rest of the way.

Once your dough has roughly doubled, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide it in half. Roll the first half out into “an imperfect rectangle,” spread half of the fig filling over the dough, and roll it up into a long log, trapping the filling within. You’ll want to be careful when you roll out your dough that it still has some thickness to it, as I had a few tears in mine which made everything a little tricky for me. Roll out/stretch the log as long as you can without breaking or tearing it, and then divide it in half. Repeat this whole process with the second half of the dough. You should have four fig-filled ropes of dough.

Next comes the weaving, which I’m not even going to try to explain. Instead, you should head to over to Smitten Kitchen to look at the pictures and read her instructions. I never could have woven it without those pictures. Oy. Once woven up into a beautiful mound of deliciousness, transfer the dough to a baking sheet prepped with parchment paper (or silpat, I suppose).

Egg Wash

In a small bowl, beat the egg for the wash, and brush it over the challah. Let it rise for another hour, but start heating your oven to 375 degrees about halfway into the rise. Before putting it in the oven, brush the challah again with the egg wash, and bake it in the middle of your oven for 35-40 minutes. If it starts to get dark (like mine did), you can cover it with foil for the rest of the bake (like I didn’t). Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. Tear off pieces with loved ones, and add a dab of butter and jam, if you like. Enjoy.

Fresh Pasta with Pancetta, Leeks, & Breadcrumbs with Porcini Powder

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Porcini powder. Porcini powder? Yes. From the farmers market. I was told it was wonderful, and was given a little bag as a gift. But what to do with the stuff, that’s the question. I’m not sure I made the right choice… This pasta dish had so much going on in it that the porcini flavor was hiding. It was hiding behind the sourdough breadcrumbs and butter it had been sprinkled into, and under the pancetta it had been tossed with, and between the fresh pasta noodles it had been swirled around with.

All that being said, this dish was dang good, if I do say so myself. There were a few elements, and it took a few pans to get it all prepped. So no, this is not one of those magical one pot meals. Certainly not.

My dear friend Elsa was staying with us, and my friend Dylan came over for dinner, as well as Elsa’s friend Sarah, so we had help in manning all the pans. Tamar Adler said in The Everlasting Meal that there is value in, when a guest asks “is there anything I can do to help?” being able to say, “yes.” I have found that to be very true.

Think of this recipe as a guideline. Or a lightly painted upon canvas. You can remove, add, flavor, sprinkle, drizzle anything you like. I must say, though, that I used a different pasta recipe this time, and I liked it much better than the one I had been using. There’s something to be said for trying something new.

Fresh Pasta with Pancetta, Leeks, & Breadcrumbs with Porcini Powder

Ingredients

Fresh Pasta

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Toppings

Olive oil
1 large or 2 small leek(s), sliced and rinsed
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Pancetta – the amount is up to you. I like the pancetta that is thin, almost like prosciutto, though that isn’t what we used here. I think if we’d used the thinner kind, it would’ve clung to the noodles better.
Fresh breadcrumbs
Butter
Porcini powder
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Fresh Pasta

To make the pasta, pulse the flour alone in a food processor a few times. In a bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to flour, and process until the dough forms a ball. If your dough is dry and looks like little pea sized pieces of dough, you can add water 1/2 tsp at a time. If it sticks to the bowl of the processor, add flour 1 Tbl at a time. When the dough has formed a ball, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and set it aside for up to 2 hours to relax (at least 15 minutes). Then roll out the pasta as you usually do and cut it as you normally would.

Toppings

In a pan over medium (or medium low), cook your pancetta, then set aside on a plate with a paper towel on it. Once the pancetta is removed, you can use that same pan to sautée the leeks, onion, and garlic, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. You may want to add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan to help keep things from sticking. But then again, maybe you won’t.

In another pan, melt some butter, then add the breadcrumbs and as much porcini powder as you feel like adding. Toast the breadcrumbs on low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

As things are moving along, get out a big pot, fill it with water and a healthy serving of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta (I like to cook fresh pasta in batches, as it makes it less likely to stick together). If you’re cooking fresh pasta, it really only needs to cook for a few minutes. I like to remove it when all the noodles are floating. Do you have a better method? I’d like to know it. If you’re cooking your pasta in batches, you can remove it with tongs into a colander to keep the water boiling on your stovetop.

Strain the pasta, put it in a bowl, and toss with all the various bits and pieces. Enjoy with a glass of buttery, nutty white wine and friends, around a table, on a sunny evening.

Fried Baby Artichokes

Fried Baby ArtichokesFried Baby Artichokes

We have been hitting up our local farmers market like crazy. If you live in Portland and you don’t go to the PSU Farmers Market on Saturdays, you are seriously missing out. Especially when the weather is beautiful and there is SO MUCH PRODUCE everywhere to be found. It’s really incredible.

Lately, Jonah and I have bought chanterelles, fennel, fiddlehead ferns, rhubarb (so much rhubarb), strawberries, a chicken, radishes, leeks, lamb steaks, sunchokes, spring onions, cheese… the list goes on. There is so much delicious local food to be found, it’s like being in heaven. And these mounds of food and people walking around in sundresses and shorts with bouquets of flowers are all so beautiful.

Anyway, one of my favorite things we’ve found at the market is baby artichokes. Have you ever had fried baby artichokes at a restaurant? It’s a common Italian dish. The leaves get crispy and a little burnt and it’s really yummy. So when we brought these home, we knew we wanted to make that dish. We found a simple recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, and Jonah took over the making of these little guys. We bought 8 of them to cook, but the recipe is obviously variable depending on how many you want to make.

Fried Baby Artichokes

Ingredients

8-12 baby artichokes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus some for serving
4 cloves garlic (or more, if you want), lightly crushed
lemon for serving

Instructions

Prepare the artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves, cutting off the top third of the , and peeling the tough dark green layer from the stems with a paring knife. I know, it seems like you’re losing a lot of artichoke here, but you’re really just getting rid of all the really tough parts that would make this whole thing harder and far less pleasant to eat.

Pour the oil and 1/2 cup water into a medium sized, deep, heavy pot and add the artichokes and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Turn the heat on to medium-high, and let them cook, turning them over occasionally (you don’t want them to get burned on one side). Cook them until the water has evaporated and the oil starts to spit, which, trust me, it will. This will take about 8-10 minutes.

When the water has cooked off, add the garlic to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot with a spatter screen or an sieve turned upside down (Nice tip Martha! Sadly our sieve wasn’t big enough for our pot… I’m thinking it’s time to invest in a spatter screen). Continue cooking the artichokes and turning them occasionally, until they’re tender and golden brown all over (should be another ~10 minutes). Now take some tongs and put them upside down (or cut-side down, however you want to think about it) in the pan, pressing them down and wiggling them around to kind of loosen up and separate the leaves. Leave them upside down and let them cook like that for another 5 minutes, until the leaves/edges are dark and crispy. Using your tongs, transfer artichokes and garlic from the pan to a plate covered in paper towels. Put the artichokes cut sides down at first, if you can, so they can drain a little bit.

Sprinkle them with salt, squeeze some lemon over top, and serve!

Beet Tart

beet tart

OK people – I know we read a lot of food books and talk about them all the time, but if there is ONE book you are going to read from our suggestions, let it be An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.  It is amazing book that changed my life, and is sure to make you think and act differently around food.  If you have not read it yet, go read our blog post on her book, and then continue below.

This beet tart is a perfect example of Tamar’s philosophy and grace: if you attacked this beet tart recipe from start to finish in one cooking session alone – it would take most of your day; first you would have to roast the beets (which takes a long time anyway), then make tart dough and chill it for an hour, then bake the tart dough, then put together the filling, bake some more, add the sliced beets, and bake once again.  Sounds daunting! I would never have done this recipe if it wasn’t spread out over many days and incorporated in the general meal preparations for the week.  However, the manner in which it was made made it feel like I was just throwing leftovers together in a very creative way, rather than a labor intensive ordeal.

Here’s what happened: A few days before, Annie and I roasted a whole bunch of veggies for dinner (or was it lunch?).  We filled the whole oven and roasted lots of different veggies with olive oil and salt.  I fit the beets in a small pan with a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, covered them with foil, and let them roast for a long time (probably too long, I may have forgotten about them).  We ate the other roasted veggies as part of our dinner that night, but we had no intention of eating the beets that day, so we didn’t have to wait around for them to roast.  We let them cool and then peeled them and put them in the fridge before bed.  Now we had roasted beets peeled beets in the fridge.  We had no plan but we had ideas: beet salad, beet pasta, or beet anything; they were simply a nice starting point.

A few days before roasting the veggies, we had made a different veggie tart using the Olive Oil Tart dough recipe that can be found in Tamar’s book, so we had some leftover in the fridge.  A few days later, I looked in the fridge and saw that a perfect storm had brewed for a beet tart.  There, sitting in the fridge waiting to be used, were roasted peeled beets, tart dough, and some leftover ricotta cheese.

If you want to make this recipe from start to finish, more power to you.  However, I would suggest at least making the tart dough a day ahead, and then looking through your fridge to find any vegetables that would work, roast them, and put them on top of the tart in place of beets.

Beet Tart

Note: You’ll want to roast your beets or other vegetables before you make the tart dough.

Ingredients

Olive Oil Tart Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon salt

Beet Tart Filling

1 1/2 cups ricotta (fresh)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tb. cream (I think I just used leftover creme fraiche)
1/2 t. salt
2 egg yolks
a pinch of fresh thym or rosemary

Instructions

Olive Oil Tart Dough

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If its too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in half and roll into balls, then put them in the fridge to chill.

Take out one dough ball (you get to save the rest for another day!) and roll it out on a floured counter until its about 1/4 inch thick. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan and dust with a bit of flour. Lay the crust in the pan and trim the edges. Prick the bottom a few times (this dissuades bubbles from appearing in your tart dough). Cover the crust in aluminum foil and put some dried beans or pie weights in to fill the tart and hold down the dough. Bake for 20 minutes.

Beet Tart Filling

Whisk together filling ingredients. Pour into the pre-baked tart dough (remember to take out the dried beans and aluminum foil!) and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Now lay your beet slices (I cut mine into half-moons) on top of the ricotta filling in a single layer and bake for another 10 minutes.  Let it cool and eat at room temperature.

It is very filling and great for lunch the next day and many days after!