I made THE most amazing bread yesterday, if I say so myself. This is going to be one of those ones that I’ll want to play around with and perfect.
Recipe for a good sized loaf: 4 cups plain flour 2-3 cups warm water 1 tsp dry yeast 1 tsp salt
Mix the water and yeast in a large bowl. Add the sifted flour and salt to make a thick, but sticky, dough. It shouldn’t be as thick as regular dough but not runny although it’s this stickiness or wetness that creates the telltale chiabatta “holes”. Do not overwork it. Mix until combined and that’s it. Cover with gladwrap and leave for 12 hours. That’s right, 12 hours!
Preheat the oven to around 180c. Turn the dough out onto a floured baking tray (you can use polenta instead of flour). Bake for around 1 hour – the colour should be a really deep golden brown.
You can add anything to the dough before you set it to rise – caraway seeds might be nice.
This is gorgeously chewy and dense chiabatta!
So that was the success story. Now for the disaster. How could the Australian Women’s Weekly let me down??? I followed their recipe for lamingtons and while they look great (in fact, I reckon they look better than the AWW ones), and they tasted great too, the cake was so thick and dense! Lamingtons should be light… (oh, yes, I MIGHT have forgotten that I didn’t use cornflour – didn’t have any – so maybe it wasn’t the recipe’s fault. Whatever.)
Recently Jeff and I went to the Lindt shop on Collins Street and had their macaroons, that they like to call Delice. Call em what you like, they’re delicious! So yesterday, Jeff and I decided to venture into the newly renovated kitchen determined to make French Almond Macaroons. I found a recipe on taste.com for macaroons with orange blossom and mandarin rind buttercream and another with rose and berry buttercream fillings. It all seemed easy enough, but, visually, the result wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for. Here’s what they’re supposed to look like.
So what went wrong? The piping of the biscuits, for sure – note to self, try not to make biscuits look like dog turds. They were slightly overcooked, looking at the colour. The taste, however, was perfect and the texture was nice and crunchy on the outside and wonderfully squidgy and chewy towards the centre.
Hold the presses! I know, right? I’m the only one.
I can’t believe that I’ve become an avid internet shopper. I mean, what about the sensual experience that you can only get from walking into a shop, trying something on, squishing the new wool, smelling the pure leather, sliding your fingers across the surface of a porcelain plate or noticing the resin drips on the surface of a painting.
Well there’s still a place for that but the veritable enormity of products online means that the world is not just your oyster, it’s your clam, your very own pharmacy and art gallery all at your fingertips.
Sometimes both at once. Take this example. I’ve been looking for an interesting spice rack to go in my new kitchen and discovered this:
But they don’t ship to Australia! So I decided to get creative. Who knew you can buy real test tubes on the interwebs? WHO KNEW?
I mean, I know you can get anything, but test tubes?
And then I discovered all this other stuff I seriously didn’t know I needed.
So this morning I was watching the early bird news. Possibly not so early for many people, including: mothers, shift workers, insomniacs, miaw-miaw tweakers. Anyway, it was 7am and I had sat down to a cup of Brevilles “Expresso” and muesli when I saw this:
My muesli felt rather unsubstantial.
And on Monday, JJ got a bee in his bonnet about joining Costco -that modern-day marvel of convenience stores that stocks everything from Samsung TVs to 100-day grain fed beef and fresh-baked cakes. It’s true. We went for the 60-roll pack of Kleenex toilet paper.
So anyway, being all white trash (because, let’s face it, who the hell pays a $60 annual membership fee so that they can get “discount” shopping? Me and JJ, that’s who) we took our wide load shopping trolley – that was bursting with a big box of zip-lock bags, a huge box of snack-sized sultana packs and ten years’ supply of deodorant and toothpaste – to the “cafe“. I swear I have never seen so many fat people, and I mean, REALLY FAT PEOPLE, outside of The Biggest Loser – and that’s TV!
Don’t get me wrong, as a slightly overweight person, I have a great deal of sympathy for the weight-challenged among us. And a trip to the Costco “cafe”makes it so evident why Americans and Australians are among the FATTEST in the world. How can fresh food compete with a $2.49 hot dog – with all the self-serve fixins – plus a 590ml soda with refill??? Do I have to remind anyone that 2x590ml is more than 1 litre of Coke, or Pepsi or Mountain Dew or whatever… A litre!
Being a little less white trash than most, JJ and I went for the $2.99 pizza slice – no soda included. I’m sorry to say, Melbourne, that it wa one of the best pizza slices I’ve had in years.
How ironic that I went back to Weight Watchers last night.
I’ve been reading Naomi Klein’s No Logo and, frankly, all that talk about multinationals, workers below the poverty line and abuse of corporate power gave me a hankering for a lukewarm piece of fish slapped with thick white pickly sauce huddled between two sugary buns.
That’s right, this pescatarian went to Maccas for a filet-of-fish or, as Jazzy Jeff scoffs, a “fillay” of fish. Those pesky Americans know all the fancy foreign words.
Oh, and I had some fries with that.
Anyway, this pescatarian hasn’t stepped foot inside a Maccas or a Hungry Jacks or any of the fancier fast food restaurantslike Nandos for nigh on two decades. True, there was a time when my feisty metabolism allowed a McFeast here and there, not to mention some fries with that, when I hopped off the bus from Bundoora on my way home from uni, in my 2nd heyday. But that was only during that short lapse – from 1991 to 1995. Up until the hot dog with bacon incident, I’d been a card carrying member of the vegetarian cult since anorexsix- that’s 1986 – the year that my friend Annette and I decided to see who could out starve and out spew each other on our way towards the tightest dresses ever seen at the end of year formal. We both lost 20 kilos in 3 months, which could explain fairly average HSC grades.
But back to the hot dog with bacon. I was at the Chevron with Frank and the others and I might have been a smattering on the wrong side of sober when I announced: “I wanna hoddog wif baco-”
It lasted a while, this carnivorous descent, up until I arrived at mecca – that would be the biggest prawn I ever did see, sitting at a street stall in Malaysia – not literally. But I went cold turkey after that.
Luckily I lapsed again just before the China trip because I was faced with this mother.
It was pretty much downhill from there. Once you’ve eaten a live crustacean, raw, you don’t have such a hard time with rainbow trout or even McDonald’s hake. But I do stop at anything with feet, or hands. Although, given that my fillay didn’t taste anything like my mum’s blue grenadier, I have doubts about its actual ingredients, much like commercial dog food and Macca’s fudge sundaes, so I might have to give it a miss in future. And I may skip the fries as well.