Tag Archives: bread

This is why you’re fat

24 Mar

Have you visited the website “This is why you’re fat“?  Well, they sure do have some wonderful ideas on how to turn dreams into heart attacks.

Although my heart has already shown some signs of complaint, after seeing some of the wonderful pictures they have on the site I’ve decided to take my shot on the subject.

To tell you the whole story I have to confess that the final inspiration came from a show by Bobby Flay I happen to have watched on the net a few weeks ago, as he is not presenting his skills on Brazilian television.  That was the first, as well as the one and only show by Bobby Flay I have ever watched (please, don’t ask me for the season and episode number, as I don’t have the slightest idea).  On that show, Mr. Flay and a female guest (famous???????, not on this side of the world) each prepared his/her own version of an American classic:  hamburgers.  Here is my version (clearly inspired on theirs):

1.  A homemade bun. I used a classical and rustic bread recipe – take a look at “Our Daily Bread“. They didn’t mention, but I bet the production bought theirs on a supermarket just around the corner – not as good though;

2.  Butter fried onions to which I added my secret BBQ sauce recipe.  I say “secret” because it seems every American man (and I bet quite a few women too) seems to have his own secret recipe.  Mine is simple: catchup, some water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chilli sauce and some Kentucky Bourbon (after all it’s an American sauce);

3.  Pork and beef hamburgers (1:1) seasoned with some salt and chopped spring onions;

4. Slices of cheddar cheese;

5.  Fried slices of bacon;

6. Lettuce;

7. Tomatoes;

8. Homemade onion rings (flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, 1 well beaten egg with some milk)

8. Freshly prepared mayonese (2 egg yolks – one raw and one boiled – Dijon mustard to taste, few drops of lemon, pinch of salt, whisk oil into the mixture a few drops at a time – keep it smooth).

This is why you're fat - My version of an American classic

Man, let me tell you…that was good, specially considering it was eaten with some cold Mexican beer with a slice of lime.

Hamburgers on FoodistaHamburgers

Eid ul-Fitr

6 Oct

One of the five pillars of Islam is the Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a celebration of the period during which the first verses of the sacred Qur’an were reveled to the prophet Mohamed.  Ramadan is then a period of praying, even more than usual, and of fasting for the sake of Allah.

After this whole month of purification, which ended around 2 weeks ago, fast can be broken (Fitr) and a 3-day period of festivities (Eid) starts, the Eid ul-Fitr, during which the Takbir, an expression of fate, is recited.  Also, as the end of a fasting period, some traditional dishes are prepared, among them the Ramazan pidesi, a kind of Turkish pita bread.

The preparation is rather simple, specially if you’ve tried my simple Italian bread recipe.  Before adding the yeast, see step 2, reduce the amount to around 7 g (1/2 tablespoon) and dissolve it in 1/4 cup of warm milk.  Let this mixture rest for about 15 min before proceeding.  Also, cut the amount of sugar in half, and use milk instead of water. In step 6, while the dough rests, spread some olive oil all over it (1-2 table spoons).  Just before baking, what takes around 15-20 min at high temperature, brush some slightly beaten egg mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of milk over the surface to obtain a beautiful and shinning color, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  This recipe yields 2 average size breads. Don’t they look like focacce?

My Ramazan pidesi

My Ramazan pidesi

By the way,  I’m not a muslin and neither have I ever seen (except for some pictures), or eaten, any real Ramazan pidesi.  But let me tell you, Allaahu akbar (God is the Greatest), as says the first expression of the Takbir, since my friends just loved it.  This is what really matters.


It’s not a pizza! Or is it?

1 Sep

Well, I’m not so sure about that.  Maybe it’s just a flat bread.  But, isn’t pizza a kind of flat bread too? After all, what is the difference between pizza and focaccia?  Gregory Heinz, a customer at Ray’s Pizza in Greenwich Village, says that “the difference between the two is about a buck”.  Maybe you should read “Pizza It Is, and Pizza It Isn’t” by Moly O’Neil, in the October, 6 1993 edition of “The New York Times” and decide for yourself.  A few things SEEM certain though:  (1) The name of this bread appears to be derive from the Roman expression “panis focacius,” which referred to a flat loaf of bread cooked upon a hearth, over a hot stone, or under the ashes of a fire; (2) It’s much older than pizza, maybe 2,000 years older.

The original recipes have originated along the Mediterranean coast, where the air is incredibly salty, and the focacce (plural of focaccia) tended to rise on their own.  Nevertheless, the use of small amounts of yeast, or other leavening agents, are quite common these days.

I used my basic bread recipe, jumping stage 8 and flattening the dough down to about 1-1.5 cm (around 0.5 inches) thickness at stage 9.  I then spread a mixture of olive oil and rosemary over the top, waited until it doubled in size, and then baked it at high temperature for about 20 min (in fact until it reached a light brown color).  It’s important that you don’t pay much attention to shape, as focacce are rather rustic meals. As soon as I took it from the oven I once again brushed the surface with olive oil and rosemary and covered it with a generous amount of course sea salt.

Rosemary and sea salt focaccia

Rosemary and sea salt focaccia

Get some Gorgonzola cheese, some sliced salami, a bottle of a good red Italian wine (a Chianti, for example), and you are ready for a wonderful and quite simple meal.  The above focaccia was offered to some friends, along with a selection of cheeses and wines, last Saturday night.

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Italian Focaccia on Foodista

Sunday Lunch

12 Jun

On last Sunday’s lunch menu:  lamb shank grilled over wooden fire and potato salad.  The salad is simply boiled potatoes mixed with a homemade mayonnaise.  The mayo recipe is rather simple:
– 2 egg yolks (one hard boiled and one raw);
– 1 ts of Dijon mustard, 1 ts of Tabasco or other similar hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste;
– 1 squeeze of lemon;
– while constantly whisking the yolks slowly add a mixture of olive and corn oil (half and half) until the right consistency is obtained.

Add some chopped green olives and parsley to the final product.

The lamb was given to me by the father of my daughter in law.  He is a cattle rancher (a typical Brazilian “gaucho“), who is particularly proud of his animals.  The lamb was not only raised in his ranch, free ranging and feeding only on natural grass, but was killed and cleaned by himself.  Thus, it was a very special and most prised gift.  I got the whole animal, what means that you are going to hear about lamb once again in the near future.

In order to preserve the meat taste as much as possible it was rubbed only with a mixture of sea salt and some minced rosemary right before grilling.  It was then set over a wooden fire and  kept about 1 meter (a little over 3 feet) from it.  Cooking time was around 2,5 hours.  The meat was juicy and tender.

To go along with that I decided to take my bread experience a little further.  So, I repeated the previous recipe with minced rosemary, thyme and basil, as I was sure the result would be nice, and also tried some ciabatta bread (the same basic recipe, with some extra olive oil after the first rise and flour over the dough just before baking).  The result?  Judge by the following images.

Ciabatta bread and homemade potato salad

Ciabatta bread and homemade potato salad

Sunday lunch

Sunday lunch

Lamb Shank on Foodista
Ciabatta on Foodista

Our Daily Bread

21 May

It’s believed that man has been baking bread for at least 8,000 years, one of the oldest prepared foods dating back to the Neolithic era. At that time bread consisted of a mixture of flour and water, which was then roasted on fire to furnish a rather hard product. According to a legend, at some point around 1,000 BC (maybe even earlier), probably in Egypt, someone forgot to cook the dough and, as it ended up fermenting, accidentally produced the first leavened bread. If you mix a bit of such dough with a knew one you can duplicate the process (as in what is today known as sour-dough). Nevertheless, lets not forget that unleavened bread is, even today, quite common in several cultures. The idea behind leavening is to create gas bubbles in the dough, to make it soft, and yeast is quite good in producing carbon dioxide, as long as you create a nice living environment for it. Such environment should have water, adequate temperature and fast utilizable food (usually in the form of sugar), nothing much different from what is needed by most known life forms.

It was possibly during this period that beer has also been developed, as beer and bread rely on the same basis. The yeast used in the production of both is usually the same, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, meaning “the sugar fungus of beer”. In fact, during the middle ages, the Catholic Church accepted beer as “liquid bread”, allowing the monks to drink it even during the Lenten season, between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, when no solid food could could pass their lips. But that`s another story.

The isolation of the yeast is also attributed to the Egyptians. The technique of mixing flour with yeast then jumped to Greece, and from there easily reached the Romans. The ruins of several Roman cities, including those of Pompeii, reveal the existence of bakeries at those times (bread has even been preserved by the ashes of Vesuvius – see bellow a picture from Wikipedia).

Pompeii bread

Bread found in the ruins of Pompeii

The rest of the story is easy to figure out. From Rome, specially considering the expansion of the Roman Empire, it spread all over Europe, and over world, and for a very simple reason, it is healthy and nutritious, filling the stomach for a very reasonable price.

As Tony Yoward says, the 20th century saw the mass production of bread, with some of the sliced white loaves of the later decades bearing little resemblance to the tasty hand-crafted product. The turn of the 21st century has seen the rise of the domestic bread making machine – a clean effortless way to enjoy fresh wholesome bread baked to one’s own taste. It seems ironic that after so many centuries in which the wealthier citizens demonstrated their status by buying the whitest wheat bread from someone else’s oven, the same sector of society now seeks out mixed grain wholemeal flours to bake in their own kitchens!

Last Friday evening I turned on the TV and a show by the famous English Chef Jamie Oliver was on. It was not one of his usual cooking shows, but one where he tried to turn a bunch of teenagers into first class chefs. At that moment he was teaching them how to make bread. The show was rather boring, so I watched for only a few moments and went to bed. The next morning my first thought was: I have to prepare some bread. And that was something I had never done before.

I jumped out of bed went to look for one of his books (The Naked Chef) searching for a bread recipe. I found it, but it was rather different from the one he was teaching on TV. So I decided I would prepare it the way I remembered, and it was something like this:

  1. Get 500 g of flour and put it on a table as a circle, more or less like the top of a volcano (with a hole in the center);

  2. Put 15 g (1 table spoon) of dried yeast, 30 g (2 table spoons) of sugar (honey may be used instead) and 5 g (1 tea spoon) of salt in the middle;

  3. Add 300 ml warm water (below 40 oC);

  4. With a fork slowly mix everything together working from the center towards the border;

  5. When it becomes hard to work the dough with the fork it`s time to start using your hands;

  6. Work the dough for 5-10 min and then put it rest in a PVC film covered bowl (it`s time to let the yeast do its job);

  7. After the dough doubles in size, which means its full of gas bubbles (this should take from 45 min to 1.5 hours depending on the conditions, specially temperature) work the dough for another 5 min;

  8. At this point I added a mixture of minced rosemary, thyme and basil in a 1 tablespoon of olive oil;

  9. Shape the breads (I made 2 round Italian style breads) and let them double size again;

  10. Spread thin layer of butter sprinkled with flower on a pan and gently place the breads (cut a cross on the top of each one). Be gentle, for we want to keep the gas bubbles inside now;

  11. Bake the breads for about 20-30 min at 230 oC (in fact I was so anxious that I checked the oven every 5 min until they got a beautiful brownish color).

Dough before leavening

Unleavened dough

Leavened dough

Leavened dough

The result was fantastic, specially considering that it was my first experience. I took them to a friends BBQ and both of them were eaten in less than 5 min with grilled and sliced pork sausage. I tried some slices with olive oil and they also tasted just great. I just wish my daily bread was like that. For sure I’ll try new variations, like including some dried tomatoes, for example (the Internet is full of recipes).

My Italian bread

My Italian bread

Have you tried something similar? Please, share with us.

Bread on Foodista

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