radish and coconut tarts

I had baked the pastry and mixed together the yoghurt. I opened up the drawer to get the okra and found that it had completely rotted away. So, that’s what happened to these okra tarts for Lina’s Creative Ingredient Challenge…they turned into radish tarts. For this challenge Lina assigned each of us a vegetable. I was excited to work with okra (I could tell from the start it would be either a tart or a cake!) but in the end, I didn’t manage to carry it out. I’m not exactly participating for this challenge as a result, but I’m still sharing what I ended up with. “Informal” participation maybe?

Anyways, imagine them how they should be. Take the okra, slice it into rounds and fry it in a generous amount of very hot oil until almost burnt on both sides and crisp. Toss it in a bowl with some salt, paprika, turmeric and mustard seeds. While still hot, put on top of the tarts along with a bit of sliced radish and fresh mint. Eee I think it would work. I think, but it’s hard to tell without actually making it!turmeric rough puff pastrybaked turmeric puff pastryI’ll try again with okra one day to make them properly, and in the meantime, perhaps it’s good that I ended up making these radish tarts first. A couple things could be improved. I found the radish tarts rich enough, and so having crispy and oily okra might be too rich. Secondly, maybe a food processor instead of a mortar and pestle could be used to make the filling a bit more paste-like, and I could probably play around a bit more with the flavours in the filling.

Lina’s challenge, which I’ve already failed one criteria of, asks us to write about a best friend. Quite a few of my friends know I have a food blog, but they don’t actually know what it’s called or seen it…I always put it off, saying “one day when it’s actually good” and sometimes “one day when I actually write something substantial.” While it’s improved since it first began, at the very least, I have a feeling I’ll keep on putting it off for ages…I was already pretty shy and I decided to go to a high school where I didn’t have any pre-exising friends to smooth the transition. For the first couple weeks it was my biggest regret and I berated myself constantly. Now I realize if I had gone to a different school, I would have missed out on some of my favourite people.

The first day was that bizarre tumble of different people and meandering around and feeling lost. Our high school was always a bit overcrowded, and so I found out I was sharing a locker with two other people. I met them both that first day where the three of us stared doubtfully at the skinny metal box, big enough to hold one backpack and maybe a couple books on the shelf. That was the last day I ever saw them, after that it was only their winter coats, which sort of sums of my first few weeks–I would meet people and then never see or speak to them again.So this is about the first lasting friend I made in senior high school, and who made my high school life a lot more fun. She came into our first class of high school, Social Studies, late, and responded in the best possible way–with a slightly apologetic and rueful but cheerful smile. At that moment I thought she looked like the sort of person I wanted to be friends with. And I’m so glad we did become friends.

I don’t really think these tarts are exactly her thing, and they were too perishable and troublesome to transport, so I fed them to my parents instead. That being said, as she is very nice, I’m sure she would still give them a try.

(And, to conclude: to this day, she’s still occasionally late to lectures…though, sometimes I’m worse!)radish and coconut tarts

Makes about 7 small tarts. Pastry is an amalgamation of Chocolate and Zucchini’s rough puff pastry and Chez Pim’s pie dough. I think both methods work well on their own, and seem to work very nicely together as well.

The filling is inspired by the paste from Lina’s curry.

pastry

112 g cold butter

112 g whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp paprika

1 tsp black mustard seeds

generous 1/4 tsp salt

~40-50 mL cold water

filling

1/2 c dried shredded unsweetened coconut

1 tsp poppy seeds

scant 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1/2 tsp dried crushed red chile

1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

5 green cardamom pods

pinch ground cinnamon, cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1 large slice of ginger

1 small small onion (1/4 c finely chopped)

to top

1/3 c labneh

1/2 c yoghurt (or some other combination of some sort–whatever you need to get the right consistency)

1 thin slice of red onion

a few sprigs of mint

radishes (around one per tart)

black mustard seeds

paprika

To make the pastry, cut the butter into large, thin pieces (big flakes). Mix together the remaining ingredients except the water. Put the flour mixture on the counter, then put the butter pieces on top, turning over to dust completely with flour. Using a metal bench scraper or the heel of your hand, flatten the pieces of butter. Using the bench scrape, sort of fold the pile of butter in flour in half over itself and flatten once more. You will be creating thinner and thinner flakes of butter. Once the butter is flaked throughout thinly, make a well in the centre and mix in the water.

Then bring the dough together. Dust the surface with some additional flour, and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough into an elongate rectangle. Fold up into thirds like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and roll out into an elongate rectangle again, and the fold up once more. Repeat this 3 or so more times (somewhere in the range of 2-5 more times) such that you will have repeated the folding process 5 times. Wrap in plastic and chill.

To make the filling, dry toast the coconut in a small pan until nicely browned. Remove and set aside. Then toast the seeds, chile and cardamom (crack the pods to remove the cardamom seeds). Place in a small grinder and grind until quite fine and set aside. Mince the ginger and finely chop the onion. Combine everything in a mortar and pestle (perhaps in two batches if need be) to break the coconut until smaller pieces and begin to bring everything together.

To make the tart base, roll out the chilled dough, around 0.5 cm thick, or a bit thicker if desired, onto a floured surface. Cut into seven rounds using the fluted rim of a small tart pan. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and chill.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Prick the pastry with the tines of a fork and bake for around 10 minutes. Then spread a generous spoonful of the filling over the centre of each partially baked tart. Bake for another 15 or so minutes at 350F or until each tart is baked through. Let cool.

To prepare the topping, Mix together the yoghurt and labneh. I did this to get a desired consistency of quite thick, but use whatever you have on hand to achieve the desired consistency. Finely chop the red onion and thinly slice a handful of mint leaves and mix into the yoghurt.

Slice the radishes in half and then slice thinly. Lightly toast the mustard seeds in a pan. Slice some additional mint leaves. To assemble, spread a generous amount of yoghurt on top of each tart. Arrange a generous amount of sliced radishes on top. Sprinkle with mustard seeds, a bit of paprika and sliced mint. Serve immediately.

curry buns

curry bunsMost years, it was, reliably my worst mark: physical education.

The sole highlight of my gym experience was making it once and only once onto the track and field team for the supremely unpopular 600 m (it seems all the true long distance runners preferred the 1000 or 10 000 m).loaf of milk bread

I was never good at sports or had any particular coordination, strength, or sense of balance. Gym class was about trying to not ruin the game for other people—it involved me trying to choose independent sports as much as possible, and if that was not possible, strategically moving to locations that would be least likely require me to reach for the ball. I usually volunteered for defense and somehow would always end up on the far side of the field when the ball made it back to our side. And strangely enough I ran very slowly. And sometimes would end up backing away instead.That being said, most people didn’t care at all, and if they did, they were very considerate. It was rare and pretty much unheard of to be lambasted for my inabilities. One time it was because someone thought I wasn’t trying, and not for actual lack of trying—it turns out that I just couldn’t pull down xx kg (I think for sake of my pride, I will censor the actual number). It was some kind of horrible point-system game in teams with workout equipment in the fragrantly sticky workout equipment room. To make up for it, I did as many jumping jacks as I could when we reached the jumping jack station, though I don’t think my team member was particularly impressed by that either.Even when I wasn’t being scorned (which pretty much all the time–everyone really was very nice), I was convinced that I was being regarded with either a bit of (imagined) disgust or uncomfortable pity.

Now that it’s been over four years since my last mandatory gym class I wish that I had taken advantage of it. I wish that I hadn’t been so scared and worried about others’ need to win and competitive spirit—because it wasn’t actually them that was making me hang back, it was really just me and that rather pervasive idea that if you aren’t good, you just shouldn’t try.sliced milk breadThe same goes for social dance—after five years of the jive and the Beach Boys (I don’t know why that was always a major part of the curriculum), I wish I had just tossed out the awkwardness and tried to enjoy it.

And I actually did enjoy it sometimes (how can you not enjoy the octopus?), but I made sure to pretend very hard that I didn’t. Because that’s what awkward youth like me did… right?

Now that I’m a bit older and at least cognizant enough to reflect, I should probably take these regrets with me, try to step a bit out of my comfort zone, and embrace some awkwardness right now instead.

(Well, maybe.)slice of milk breads&b curry powderI spent most of high school eating curry buns. They’re still my bakery staple. They always taste nice and curry-ful, so it’s hard to go wrong!

Anyways, I decided it was about time I try to make my own bakery favourite. They didn’t quite turn out how I was hoping. As always, my sourdough bread is pretty tough (time for some instant yeast bread maybe!), but the filling wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I think it was too dry and didn’t have the sort of ambiguous mushy and moist texture I was hoping for. I’m thinking that maybe a potato and curry bun might be a good alternative…

curry buns

curry buns

milk bread

Adapted from Woks of Life. I only used half the dough for the buns, and then baked the remaining as a loaf.

sponge:

50 g whole wheat flour

50 g sourdough starter

50 g water

dough

~500 g flour (520 was just perfect for me)

3 g wheat gluten

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

180 g milk

150 g heavy cream

1 egg

50 g sugar

 Mix the sponge and let it sit on the counter overnight.

The next day, combine all the ingredients for the dough (start off with a bit less flour–say 450 g and reserve the remaining on the side) in the bowl of a mixer (or go at it with a wooden spoon) until a dough forms. Add flour as needed until the dough is satiny, very tacky and soft. Continue kneading for 15 minutes.

Cover and proof in a warm place for ~8 hr.

 

filling

oil

225 g ground pork

small knob ginger

1 onion

1 small handful enoki

1 tbsp oyster flavour sauce

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder (I used S&B brand)

2 green onions

handful cilantro

Mince the ginger. Chop the onion. Chop the enoki into short 1-2 cm lengths. Finely chop the green onions and roughly chop the cilantro.

Heat some oil in a pan and cook the pork, breaking it up and cooking until just cooked but not dried out. Set aside.

Add some more oil to the pan and then the ginger and the onion. Cook until the onion turns translucent, then add the curry powder and cook for a few moments. Add the oyster sauce and cook until the smell dissipates. Add the enoki and cook briefly, then return the pork to the pan and mix to combine. Add the soy sauce and taste for seasoning. Mix in the cilantro and green onions, then remove from the heat.

 

assembly

To fill the buns, divide half of the risen dough into eight pieces. Roll each into a ball. Divide the filling into eight portions.

Take a piece of dough and roll out into a circle, keeping the centre thicker than the edges (it will look like a sunny side up fried egg). Mound the filling on the dough and pinch the edges together. Set seam side down on a tray.

Let the buns rise until nearly doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the buns with the egg and sprinkle with some black sesame seeds.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until well browned.

baking tins

lemon and anise easter bread

italian easter bread easter eggitalian easter breadanise and marscapone easter bread

It has been so, so long (a couple years?) since I last made bread using commercial yeast. It was like a dream. The dough rose in an hour! I would look away, and then look back and it was already bigger. The second rise was even shorter.

My sourdough starter has acquainted me well with long fermentations and rises at a snail pace. I’ve become fairly patient, but the need for an overnight start, then a 6-8 rise, and a last 4-6 hour rise means that it takes some careful scheduling to ensure it works out.It was a couple weeks ago that I made a rye and caraway bread. It, by the end, had no gluten left to support the structure. You see, I intended to take out the dough, I ended up going out and forgot. For the next three days I was spending well over 10 hours away and so leaving my dough out overnight would result in a longer bulk fermentation than would be required. It needed to be a day where I ended early enough to come back, form the dough and set it aside for the final rise.

By the time that happened, the dough had spent five days in the fridge. It had puffed a little bit, but had also disintegrated (overly acidic sourdough starter problems again? still in hypothesis stage though…)Slow rises aside, another problem? I tend to have a tougher crumb when I make sourdough. I’ve made breads with higher fat and egg content than this, and ended up with something much drier and tougher. This bread was fluffy and very soft and very tender. My grandparents expressed enough appreciation of the fluffiness to make me wonder whether they particularly like the sourdough I normally make.

And of course, there is the taste. I think just plain breads taste best with sourdough, but in my more sweet-oriented baking experiences, sometimes sourdough just does not work. For example, sourdough baba au rhum. The combination of sweet rum syrup and a very strong tasting and acidic sourdough bread is not the best.

This is a bit dangerous actually–I already neglect my sourdough starter enough and having rediscovered the convenience and ease of commercial yeast….

Anyways, I quite unequivocally recommend this bread. It is adapted, with some additions of lemon and spices, from the Italian Dish. The eggs have been coloured with sumac (sumac is my new favourite colouring agent–more to come on that in later posts!), and I also made a big mascarpone-and-raisin stuffed braided bread. The mascarpone cooks down, but the raisins are plump and the whole bread is rich.

I’m bringing this bread to Angie’s marvellous Fiesta Friday. Angie is the most welcoming host I know. After all, she always puts on such a fun and warm party every week. Lately I have not been attending too much, so I’m glad to be back this week.

This week is cohosted by the absolutely wonderful Sonal from simplyvegetarian777…and me! So I hope to meet a lot of you–as I’ve sort of lost touch with FF recently, I think there are a lot of bloggers that I have yet to have encountered.

lemon and anise easter bread

Adapted from the Italian DishEnough dough and filling for 3 egg breads, and one big mascarpone-filled bread. The nonpareils melted a bit and the dragées (which also happen to be marked as “only for decoration”) didn’t, so it is up to you!

kamut, lemon and anise dough

280 mL warm milk

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

generous pinch salt

zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp ground anise

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

75 g sugar (~1/3 c)

120 g Kamut (~3/4 c)

464 g all purpose flour (~3 1/2 c), or as needed

2 tsp instant yeast

75 g butter, room temperature (~1/3 c)

for the eggs

eggs

sumac (or hibiscus would be another option)

for the filling

150 g mascarpone

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp milk

1 generous capful of Sambucca (or Amaretto)

zest of 1 lemon

40 g raisins

to bake

1 egg, beaten

pearly dragées or nonpareils (if you like)

To make the dough, mix the milk and vanilla together. In a bowl, combined the salt, lemon, anise, nutmeg, sugar, kamut, and 150 g of the flour. Beat in the milk and eggs. Add the butter and beat until combined. Then mix in flour as needed to form a nice soft dough that is on the sticky end of tacky.

Let rise for around one hour or until doubled.

While it rises, prepare the eggs. Heat up enough water to cover the eggs and a spoonful of sumac in a saucepan. Let the water cool before submerging the eggs. I let them steep for around two hours before removing and drying off the eggs.

Also prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients except for the raisins and beat until smooth. Let the raisins soak in hot water for 5 minutes to soften before draining and adding to the filling.

Use half the dough to make a big mascarpone-filled bread. Divide the half portion of the dough into three pieces and roll each into a long snake. Flatten each into a wide strip (the wider, the easier). Fill a piping bag (use a big tip or no tip to let the raisins through) and pipe a stripe of filling over each piece of dough. Wrap each one up to completely encase the filling. Braid the three strands gently and form into a circle or spiral. Place on a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let proof for an hour or until nicely puffed.

Use the remaining half of the dough to make three egg breads. Divide the remaining dough into 6 pieces. Roll each into a thin snake. Twist two of them together and then form it into a circle. Repeat for the remaining 4 pieces of dough. Place on a baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let proof for an hour or until nicely puffed.

Preheat the oven to 380F.

Just before baking, brush each bread with beaten egg and scatter with some dragées if desired.

Bake at 380F for first 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 for another 25-30 minutes for the big bread and another 10-15 minutes for the small breads.

Let cool on a wire rack–especially let the mascarpone bread cool completely before slicing open.