Sunday, 17 August 2014

Banana Coconut Pancakes

Uh, oh, I'm almost hitting the monday blues time again - that one day after a great weekend when everything just calls back to work as usual... But don't worry, I've got something to fix that "problem", something sweet yet healthy, indulgent enough to keep that weekend feeling while preparing for upcoming tasks, meetings, lessons...

Monday, 11 August 2014

Creamy Polenta with roasted bell peppers

It's comforting, it's creamy (yet totally cream free), it gives you a warm hug and still bursts with summer flavours! This creamy Polenta with roasted bell peppers is a keeper ;-).

While summer still shines as bright as it could a couple of stormy and rainy hours got me craving comfort food as of lately. But not too hearty or heavy, just something light and comfortable. After a short chat and check-up with both the refrigerator and our cupboard I settled on using one of my favourite sides: polenta (a coarse kind of cornmeal) cooked in milk and then topped with a vegetable mix, which is heavy on ripe (red) bell peppers - toasted walnuts add a little autumn-y touch while green thyme reminds me of long summer evenings. In the end my cravings were covered and the leftovers taste great the next day as well! Another plus point: it's rather quick and you can work on something else while the veggies are roasting in the oven - a win for midweek-dinners. So enjoy the last weeks of summer!

Creamy Polenta with roasted bell peppers
- serves 2
- 2 bell peppers (I used red ones, but you can use whichever you have on hand/prefer)
- 1 small zucchini
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup dry polenta
- 200 ml milk
- 200 ml water
- 1 medium sized tomato
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- loose handful of thyme (fresh), plus extra for garnish
- loose handful of chopped walnuts
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/440°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil, drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Halve and deseed the bell peppers, slice the zucchini. Arrange the bell pepper halves cut-side-down onto the baking sheet as well as the zucchini slices. Drizzle the zucchini with an additional tablespoon of olive oil then add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the zucchini slices and roast for a further 10-15 minutes until vegetables are fork tender. Remove and put the bell pepper halves in a heat proof bowl and cover with a lid. The kept steam will allow for easy peeling later on.
2. Meanwhile prepare the polenta with the mixed milk and water according to package directions.
3. Now peel the bell peppers, discarding the peel and slicing both, the peppers and the zucchini into small pieces. Set a pan on medium high heat and toast the chopped walnuts until just browned. Meanwhile cut the tomato into cubes. Remove the nuts from the pan, then add in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and fry the tomato until just soft, then add in the tomato paste along with the pepper and zucchini pieces, stir well and add in salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide the cooked polenta into two bowls or on two plates, then spoon the roasted vegetables on top. Sprinkle with the roasted walnuts and garnish with some fresh thyme - serve and enjoy!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Zucchini and Thyme Sourdough Bread

Aaand it's a wrap bread! Zucchini and Thyme 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough to be exact! :-). I'm currently experimenting with all kind of "infused/enriched" breads to use up some of the massive amounts of vegetables that our garden produces. I normally only share some of the pics on my instagram and this time the recipe got requested - so here it is! It's a lovely wholesome bread with just the right amount of moisture and "sour" taste. The hint of thyme pairs lovely with the cheese of your choice or enjoy it plain or with butter or in the only true way to enjoy fresh bread! Either way just do it - you won't be disappointed! 

Zucchini and Thyme Sourdough Bread
- makes one loaf
- Levain (day one):
- 150g whole wheat flour
- 250g sourdough starter (I used my homemade whole wheat one which is at 100% hydration)
- 70g water

1. Combine all the ingredients for the levain in a bowl into a loose mass - cover and let rest for at least 8 hours to overnight.

- Dough (day two):
- 700g whole wheat flour
- 200g water
- a handful of thyme, chopped
- one zucchini, grated (~300g)
- 1 Tbsp salt

1. The levain should be bubbly by now. If not, then let it rest for a further 1-2 hours (only needed if you choose the eight hour path, if it was rested overnight it should be ready by now).
2. Now take all the levain and knead together with the whole wheat flour and water, let the mixture autolyse for 2 hours.
3. Then add in the zucchini, thympe and salt - the dough will be sticky but handeable, if not add in a little more flour (up to 150g).
4. Now it's time for the bulk rise: for four hours you will fold the dough every 30 minutes: take the dough and think of four "corners" (even if your dough is possibly circular ;-)). Now take one corner, stretch it and fold it over the package, do so with all the remaining three corners, then place the dough seam-side down into the bowl. Be careful not to deflate the dough to much while folding. Between the folds cover the bowl and led it sit untouched.
5. When the bulk rise is done remove the dough from the bowl onto a well floured working surface, stretch into a rectangle and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then shape it into a boule and place it back into a floured bowl, cover and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least twelve hours, preferably overnight.
6. An hour before you want to start baking remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Preheat your oven to 250°C/500°F with a dutch oven or alternatively a roaster inside (with the lid on). After 45 minutes of preheating remove the dough from the bowl onto some parchment paper and slash the dough with a pattern of your choice. Then put it into the preheated oven/roaster, put the lid back on and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped. Remove and let it cool for 1-2 hours before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes: The bread freezes well sliced and whole when sealed in a plastic bag.