Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pancetta and Cheddar Focaccia or, an adult Cheese and Bacon Roll

The great Australian Classic - The Cheese and Bacon roll. 
You know the one - Baker's Delight circa 1998. The one with the hard set cheese with semi-to no flavour. The perfect tiny cubes of bacon, gritty and chewy. The soft white roll that satisfies all carbohydrate induced desires after a tough day at school. The little plastic bag they wrap it in, greedily thrown to the wayside. Whose childhood wasn't filled with these after school dreams?

I was reflecting on foods I used to eat as a kid, and why I never eat them now. It seems that with age I become more boring with my food choices - like most evolutions into becoming an adult, the excitement of food can dwindle to just those moments of going out to fancy pants dinners and not much else.

Well I'm bringing the arvo snack back baby, albeit a grown up version. Cheddar cheese + Pancetta Focaccia or, an adult's way of getting away with eating a dodgy cheese and bacon roll from the corner shop (even though we all know that's what we'd prefer to be eating).

Prosciutto and Parmesan Focaccia
Makes one big, crowd-pleasing loaf

For the dough:
7g yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbs olive oil
450g plain flour
For the topping:
1 brown onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Sea salt + Pepper
80g thinly sliced pancetta (8 slices)
140g aged cheddar cheese, broken up into chunks
Bunch of thyme/rosemary
Drizzle of olive oil

Let's get the dough on the go - in a measuring cup add the warm water, yeast and sugar. Leave to let sit in a warm place for about 5 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and smells like a pint of Guinness. Add the olive oil to the mix.

In a bowl add the flour with a small well in the centre. Pour in the yeast/water combo and slowly mix through with your hands to combine. This is where I whack my mixture into a my beautiful baby pink Kitchenaid, but for those of you out there who prefer to sweat it out, knead vigorously for 10 minutes until light and springy. Set aside in a bowl, covered with a tea towel for an hour until doubled in size. 

Meanwhile, thinly slice the brown onion. Add to a small saucepan with the butter, sugar, salt and pepper. Whack the hob on medium heat and start to slowly fry off the onions until they are soft, darkened and delicious - about 10 minutes.

Grab your dough which has now risen. Place on a floured bench top and roll out with a rolling pin/your hands until a rough rectangle of dough appears. Stab the bread with your fingers to create little pockets for the topping to fall into - Jamie Oliver is king of this. 

Grab the onions and scatter on top of the tough, add the cheddar cheese, carefully lay down the pancetta and finish with a sprinkle of thyme + rosemary and one last swig of olive oil. Bake in a hot oven for about 15 minutes, until the dough is springy and the toppings are crusty. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pickled Radishes

We are lucky enough to have a tiny balcony garden at the back of our equally as tiny home in Bronte. We have a small garden with a couple of big, beautiful olive trees too. Apparently a mystery man comes round to pick all the olives to marinate and brine, but so far the only things picking them are the hungry cockatoos.

We live in a shared apartment block with some other interesting characters. There's the grumpy key-cutter handyman downstairs with the broken foot, Tom, a lovely grey haired, vegetarian next door who feeds me life wisdom while I hang out the washing, and the staff of a nail salon along with their naughty, messy kids.  It's a motley crew, but it works.

When we moved in a couple of months ago there was a cluster of pots on our balcony filled with dreary looking remnants of plants that were. We got rid of the duds, planted some seeds, watered them lovingly every day and now we have a range of herbs and veggies on our doorstep.

The growing has been temperamental. Some things work really well (hello basil!) and others have failed miserably. Who knew patty pan squash plants grew to be so damn big and inconvenient.

An ongoing war with caterpillars and snails means a beautiful broccoli seedling can turn into a twiggy stem overnight. As the CEO of a grade four caterpillar club in primary school, I outright refuse to kill the beautiful silky creatures. That's Hugo's job.

One veg that has flourished is the good ol' radish. It must love our salty sun or something because we can't seem to eat them all. With autumn well and truly settling in, we decided to pull them all out to make way for some new seedlings. Ever since I made these quick pickled beetroots awhile back, I've always been looking for new veg to pickle since the beetroots are now a staple in my fridge.

So here's a pickled radish recipe for you, if ever you find yourself in a situation of radish overload. I'm sure this basic recipe would work well with any veg too!

Pickled Radishes
Makes 1 big jar

2 cups finely sliced radish

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Sea salt flakes

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup raw sugar

In a bowl place the radishes, onion, peppercorns, caraway and cumin seeds and sea salt. Combine apple cider vinegar, water and sugar in a pouring jug and stir until sugar has dissolved. Place radish into a medium sized mason jar. Pour over the pickling liquid, out the lid on and whack in the fridge. I'd recommend letting these radishes pickle for at least a week before eating but if you can't resist, go for it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bliss Balls

I know what you're thinking.

Oh great, another bloody bliss ball recipe to clog up the internet. Good one.

My rebuttal? I fill a big container with these every Sunday and by the end of every Friday they are....gone.

Bliss Balls
Makes about 15-20

100g crunchy natural peanut butter (pic's peanut butter is the god)
100g dried turkish figs
50g whole oats
50g cacao powder
50g shredded coconut
30g coconut oil, melted
1 tsp mesquite powder (optional)

Put all ingredients in a food processor and combine until a soft doughy mixture is formed. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and pop into a container to keep. These balls are best kept in the freezer, because that's the way I've always done it and they are perfect so I'm not going to mess with the formula.