Saturday, May 28, 2011

Olive and pancetta bread

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm not much of a baker. I don't like using yeast, mostly because I'm afraid that the dough won't rise. And I'm usually right. When I try to bake something that requires the dough to double in size and all those other things that doughs are supposed to do I almost always give up and pick a different recipe. What can I say? I'm a chicken when it comes to baking. I'm sure it's all about perfect measures and proportions which, as you might have guessed, are not my forte.

So the only type of bread I know I can bake is the kind that you cook in a plumcake tin, the kind that doesn't require kneading and resting and all that. I think people refer to those breads as "easy" or "quick" breads, which is what drew me to them in the first place. And they were right, they are easy and quick to make and, to top it off, they are also delicious and totally customizable. Once you have the base recipe down you can pretty much put whatever herb or vegetable or meat you like and make a different bread every time. So far olives and pancetta is my favorite combination, but who knows? I might change my mind soon...


2 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup skim milk
3.5 ounces pitted green olives
3.5 ounces pitted black olives
3.5 ounces chopped smoked pancetta
3.5 ounces chopped Swiss cheese
once packet of yeast
salt and pepper
Preheat oven at 350 F.

Spray stamp with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine eggs with oil and milk. Then add flour, cheese, olives and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well, then slowly add yeast. Pour into prepared stamp and put it in the oven immediately.

Bake for about 50 minutes. Let the bread cool before removing it from the stamp.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pane frattau (Sardinian music bread with eggs and tomatoes)

Again  have disappeared and haven't posted anything in what seems like an eternity. Also, I haven't been able to visit other people's blogs, which is even worse than not posting. The thing is, it seems like there's finally going to be a paradigm shift in my life —I won't say more because I don't want to jinx myself— and I have been hoping and wishing and dreaming too much to concentrate on cooking and writing. Plus, my parents just arrived from the U.S., so we have been going to restaurants a lot and we have been visiting family and friends, so there hasn't been a lot of cooking going on in our kitchen.

Sunday, though, my sister came to visit with her kids and we decided to make a special dish my parents used to eat while vacationing in Sardinia before I was born: pane frattau. Sardinian music bread is very thin and very brittle, which is why you have to dunk it in broth briefly before serving it. It's a very satisfying and yet very light dish... its only problem is once you eat it you want to eat it over and over again. 


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half an onion, chopped
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped (such as San Marzano)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 sheets pane carasau (Sardinian music bread), each broken into 4 wedges
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated aged pecorino Sardo
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Vegetable broth 
    • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan, cook 3 minutes or until fragrant, stirring often. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    • Reduce heat to low. Working with one egg at a time, crack eggs over tomato mixture, about 1 inch apart in pan. Sprinkle eggs with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat.
    • Bring broth to a rolling boil. Dunk pane carasau in broth for a few seconds, until soft. Arrange pane carasau on each of 4 plates; spoon 3/4 cup sauce over each serving. Top each serving with 1 egg, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons grated cheese. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reeni's curried chickpea and cauliflower couscous

I should do this more often. And by "this" I don't mean eating wholesome, vegetarian dishes. I mean, I should do that more often as well, but what I was referring to is using other blogger's recipes. The problem is I have so many cookbooks and so many magazines I inevitably fall behind in my "recipes to try" schedule. Especially now that the weather is getting nicer and nicer I often opt to eat outdoors al local grottos (restaurants). Still, I wish I could make more new recipes because I feel that every time I find a new recipe that I like —which happens often— I have widened my horizons a little bit, which is always a good thing. 

This particular recipe was found on Reeni's blog, "Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice". If you have never checked it out before, I strongly suggest you do so as soon as possible. She's a terrific cook and a terrific photographer, so you'll find both beautiful pictures and awesome recipes there. 

As for my version of the dish, I tweaked it just a little, mostly because I didn't have almonds but I had a pint of cherry tomatoes I wanted to use before they went bad. The result? Delicious. I'm going to make this over and over again in the summer, since I ate the leftovers cold and it was still a great dish!

Adapted from Reeni's recipe

1 small yellow onion, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
sea or kosher salt and fresh black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons hot curry powder
1/3 cup golden raisins, chopped
2 cups cauliflower florets, cooked
1 can (14 ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
3-4 cups instant couscous (whole-grain)
1/3 cup green onion, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
plain yogurt, optional

In a large skillet saute onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. Add garlic, saute until fragrant. If pan is dry add more olive oil and mix in curry powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add raisins, cauliflower, chickpeas and spinach. Cook over low heat stirring often until heated through and spinach is wilted, seasoning well with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile prepare 1 + 1/2 cups dry couscous according to package directions.

Fluff up cooked couscous and mix into the chickpea mixture along with the green onion and cherry tomatoes. Serve as is or with yogurt if desired.


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