Sunday, February 13, 2011

Living Green

This week I had realized that I, as much as I want to, can't post to this blog on weekdays.  From the time I leave from school to the time I come back, I miss the best lighting conditions for photographs - and seeing as I don't have any lighting eqipment in the house and rely heavily on natural light, this is a big problem.  So please bear with my weekly posting - I hope that this problem will be resolved in the summertime when there seems to be infinite daylight.

Today I had decided to make use of the brussel sprouts in the fridge by preparing a super easy but delightful salad.  What I loved most about it was not it's falvour - but the medley of textures.  The brussel sprouts were chewy, the pecans crunchy, and the arugula firm and peppery in taste - quite lovely if you ask me. : )  I dressed it with a fig balsamic vinagraitte and it paired well with all these greens. My mom whipped up some cute hors d'ouerves before we sat down for our Sunday supper - these are Paris toasts with brie and a port, pecan, and cranberry compote.

Now that I think about it, I was quite an abormal kid growing up.  I've always loved beef liver, and never refused to eat my brussel sprouts - how strange, considering these two ingredients are every kid's nightmare.

I had also decided to bake off a foccacia farcita this morning.  This is the second time I made it this week - my gosh, I can't describe to you how quickly homemade bread dissapears in our household.  There's only 3 1/2 of us (my mom is pregnant), and a giant loaf like the one below gets finished in an evening ! Crazy, isn't it ?

Brussel Sprout Salad
Serves 4

10-15 brussel sprouts, leaves and core separated
1-1/2 cups baby arugula
1 generous handful pecans (or any nuts for that matter; walnuts or sliced almonds will do)
Vinaigrette or dressing of your choice (I used a fig balsamic)

1. Bring a large pot of boiling, lighty salted water to a boil.  Drop in brussel sprout leaves and blanch for a minute or so until soft.  Remove, and shock in ice water.  (Reserve the core of the brussel sprout to use in a vegetable stock).  Drain, and dry very well, to ensure that your salad is not soggy.
2. Lighty toast the nuts.
3. Assemble your salad:  Arrange arugula at the bottom, place brussel sprouts on top, and top off with toasted nuts.  Drizzle vinaigrette or dressing of your choice on top right before serving.

Foccacia Farcita (Stuffed Foccacia)
Yields 1 loaf

For the dough:
2 tsp yeast
1-1/4 cups (250 mL) water
3-3/4 cups (525 g) bread flour
1-3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

For the Filling:
1-1/2 cup total cheese of your choice, sliced thinly or crumbled (I used mozzarella, brie, and cheddar)
1-2 handfuls finely chopped herbs (I used dill, but basil would work wonderfully here)

For the Topping:
3 tbsp rosemary, whole leaves
2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
Two generous pinches fleur de sel (or any coarse salt, for that matter)

1. Sprinkle yeast into 1 cup of the water in a small bowl.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.  With your fingers or a spoon, create a well in the centre.
2. Pour in the dissolved yeast and olive oil.  Mix on low speed using the paddle attachment.  Pour in the remaining water while mixer is running to form a soft, sticky dough.
3. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead on low-to-medium speed for 3 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Knead for 2 more minutes on medium.
4. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel.  Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. 
5. Punch down dough and divide into two pieces.   Chafe each loaf-to-be for 3 minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes.
6.  Roll, or stretch out each piece into a 10-inch (25.4-cm) round.  The dough will be very sticky, so maky sure to flour your hands, cutting board, and rolling pin !
7.  Arrange the filling on top of one round, equally spreading out the cheese and herbs.  Place the second round over the first and tightly pinch together the edges all around.  Cover dough loosely with a slightly damp tea towel and let rest in a warm place as you preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
8.  Using your fingertips, make "dimples" in the dough at random intervals.  Fill each dimple with several whole rosemary leaves.  Sprinkle chopped rosemary and coarse salt on top.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden.  Drizzle with olive oil, cut, and serve.

1 comment:

  1. I love these pictures! I'm learning to like Brussels sprouts. I think having them raw in a salad might be just the right thing.