Rich Brioche

Rich Brioche

Brioche is a kind of  bread with butter, eggs, milk, and often sugar added to it. The addition of these ingredients makes brioche more awesome than your average loaf of bread. It is more tender and cakey in comparison, yet still has the fluffy, lightly chewy quality of a leavened bread. This makes it really good for making sweet bready things like French Toast, and I use it to make the crostini for my ice cream sandwiches and for fried doughnuts.

Ingredients:

  • 10g Dry active yeast
  • 100ml Milk
  • 50g White sugar
  • 5g Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 400g Hard flour
  • 125g Butter, softened and divided into 75g and 50g

Method:

  • Warm the milk to no more than 37°C. Sprinkle in the yeast and a scant teaspoon of the sugar portion. Leave it to go foamy.
  • Into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a regular large bowl if kneading by hand), put the remaining bulk of the sugar, the flour, salt, eggs and the larger portion of soft butter.
  • Pour in the foamy milk/yeast mixture, scraping any remaining yeast into the bowl as well.
  • Set your stand mixer kneading, using a dough hook attachment. If you are hand-kneading your dough, mix the ingredients until they have just come together and turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
  • Once the dough has been thoroughly kneaded and has become smooth, add the other portion of butter and let it be worked into the dough.
  • Once your dough has absorbed the extra butter and become smooth and elastic again, place it into a greased bowl and cover it with cling film. Put it in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. It pays to visualise how much bigger it will look when roughly doubled in case you forget how big it initially was.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down and take it out of the bowl to put into your chosen greased loaf pan(s) or to form into the bread shape you wish to bake.
  • Leave the formed dough to rise again. This is the rising that will trap the air that will remain in your bread and make it light and fluffy, so be gentle and try not to mess it around.
  • Once the dough has proved*, you can wash it with egg or milk and bake it at 190°C, until the crust is dark, golden brown. To know more accurately if it is cooked, you can use a probe thermometer to check if the core is 92°C. You can check free-form loaves by tapping their base and seeing if it makes a hollow sound, but this does not help if you are baking in a container.
  • When you are satisfied that your loaf is cooked, turn it out onto a cooling rack.

*The general rule for proofing is that if you can make a dimple in it with a finger and it pops back again, or if it is roughly double in size, it is ready for the oven.

Sometimes when you are using a loaf pan you will have an annoying amount of dough left over. This is what I sometimes do with my extra dough when I make a small loaf for my crostini:

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Divide the dough into small balls of around 100g and push a square of chocolate into them, then reform the ball around them. Let them prove and bake them along with your loaf. Scoff them.

A Blow-By-Blow Account of My Food-Eating Trip to Queenstown

From time to time I am going to do some pretty intensive rambling about my life and what I get up to, revolving as it does around food. Hopefully it gives you, the reader, some insight and connection into who I am and also just interests and entertains you in terms of the food experiences I share with you.

I recently got married, and my new husband’s friend from work gifted us a trip to Queenstown to stay with her  for the weekend and go to Rata, which is the restaurant of Josh Emett, the New Zealand Masterchef judge. He also has another eatery up there called Madam Woo but we didn’t get a gift voucher for it so it was not graced with our eminent presence! If you are unfamiliar with Masterchef, Josh is the one who tends to wear chef jackets that are perhaps a little bit too tight for him, not that I am complaining. Despite me actively stalking searching for him, he was not in the restaurant the night we went. Oh well.

The first night of our stay was spent at home, having a delicious meal cooked for us and being plied with beer. Our hosts had this really fantastic book they were making some dishes out of called Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I spent most of my downtime flicking through this book and mysteriously kept coming back to the section devoted to sweet Jewish breads…

Rad book that I must purchase at some point when I have a job.

Rad book that I must purchase at some point when I have a job.

They made us a sort of rice salad thing with basmati and wild rice, chickpeas, currants and crispy fried onions with heaps of fresh coriander, parsley and dill tossed through it. I was super impressed, and our hosts were pretty happy with their effort because ‘it ended up looking like the photo’, which I recognised as a totally legit measure of success because I definitely do that too. One of the reasons why I never look inside my copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking or Larousse Gastronomique is that they have no pretty pictures.

After a night in the guest room/cute caravan on the lawn we went to the gondola so that my husband could do a spot of downhill mountain biking. Plenty of people rode past us wearing a concerningly large amount of protective gear. I made plenty of whiney indications that I was unhappy with the whole ‘imminent danger’ aspect of the situation.  In the end I just went shopping and was pleasantly surprised to find that when I got back the husband was still intact and in fact no one had been scraped off the tracks that day at all. We got a pretty average mango sorbet at Lick to celebrate.

The next day was Rata day! We went to Patagonia Chocolates for some churros and croissants first, a nice healthy breakfast on the shore of the lake. The sparrows in Queenstown are next-level; one tore the chunk of croissant from my hand as I was moving it to my mouth. Unsettling. We spent our day in nearby Arrowtown, exploring my old stomping grounds from when I was a little girl and my grandparents lived there. I peered over the fence into their old house and narrowly avoided detection by the new homeowner. Then back at Queenstown, after an appallingly cold swim in the lake, we got ready to go to dinner.

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The first course was goat’s cheese profiteroles with rata blossom honey and rosemary. They were like little tiny balls of wonderfulness. They were also stuck to a rock which was kinda cool too. I could have eaten SEVERAL more of those.

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This is just my favourite .gif ever.

I was pretty ambivalent about the main course; it was beautifully cooked and presented but I just wasn’t that into it. I was already thinking about dessert by that point. I had a roasted Cervena (farmed venison) loin with osso bucco, celeriac puree, roasted beets and crispy kale. The plates they served each dish on all seemed to be different and inspired by stone or other natural elements and they had the salt in adorable little river stones.

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Dessert was pretty much mind-blowing. There were so many different textures going on and they all interlinked so smoothly. Each one was based around a Central Otago orchard fruit; I had the cocoa-spiced plums with an aerated coconut mousse, pistachios and Valrhona chocolate brownie/cookie ice cream sandwich thing. It also had little blobs of intense plum goo and slices of greengage.

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After handing over our voucher we watched the sun set behind Walter Peak; I’m not a big fan of this town because it has changed so much into a bloated tourist pit even since I was small, but the combination of having a delicious meal cooked at our hosts’ home, good clean (and free!) fun swimming in the lake and a night out at an outstanding restaurant that pays simple, pure homage to its natural surroundings was the perfect time spent in Queenstown.

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Book image retrieved 24 March, 2014, from http://www.ninareschovsky.com/can-hummus-solve-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/

‘Yummm’ .gif retrieved 24 March, 2014, from http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/easy-a-gif

Potato Salad With Crispy Croutons

Best one

Potato salad is the most non-salady, blatantly unhealthy specimen of all the salads. The only thing I can think of that comes close is Insalata Caprese, which, roughly translated from the Italian, means Cheese Salad*. When mayonnaise starts becoming not only a major player in a dish but pretty much the ONLY thing that even matters about it apart from huge amounts of carbohydrate then you’ve got to reevaluate even calling it a salad; however, I am not the person to bother to do that.

In terms of poor decisions about what to consume it is already crossing some kind of line, so in these situations I often think ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’, because I’m irresponsible and also tend to say quaint, old-timey things a lot. I really enjoy salads with some crunch or crispy textural element to them that makes them interesting to eat, so I used fried potato as a sort of crouton-style addition.

I haven’t included it in the recipe, but last Christmas my husband put some of his freshly-picked own-grown peas in it, a moment of rare genius in a salad-making experience that was otherwise just me telling him what to do. So if you have access to fresh peas during pea-time, think about adding them!

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1Kg Waxy potatoes, washed (15-ish) + 3-4 extra
  • 2 Brussels sprouts
  • 2 Slices Rindless middle bacon (or any other bacon, whatever)
  • 1/2 Red onion, diced OR 2 Spring onions, sliced
  • 1 Recipe Really Thick Mayonnaise
  • Large spoonful of wholegrain mustard
  • Small handful of capers
  • Bunch of mint, washed and roughly chopped
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions:

  • If you have a deep-fryer, set it heating at 180°C.
  • Cut your potatoes into halves, then quarter the halves. If any are very small or very big, use your judgement; just get them pretty uniform and easily edible.
  • Peel your extra potatoes, keeping the peel. Cut these up as well but you don’t have to worry about the sizing as much since they are for ‘croutons’.
  • Put your main portion of potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Salt the water and set the pot boiling.
  • Put your soon-to-be-croutonised potatoes in a smaller pot and get them boiling away as well.
  • Peel off the leaves of the brussels sprouts. Steam them over the cooking potatoes until they are bright in colour, then throw them into a bowl of iced water, taking them out promptly and draining them again.
  • Cut the bacon into strips and fry it until it is crispy. Cut it into small chunks.
  • Check your potatoes; when they are done they will be tender when poked with a knife, but remaining pretty firm and not breaking apart or getting waterlogged. Drain them off and rinse them a few times in cold water to stop them cooking further.
  • When the crouton potatoes are cooked, drain them off, put the pot lid back on, hold it tight and shake the pot around a bit. This will break up the potatoes into large crumb-y bits.
  • Chuck your croutons into the deep-fryer to become golden and crispy. If you don’t have a deep-fryer then go out and buy one you will need to shallow-fry them in a pan or pot full of oil. I sometimes fry the potato peel as well. Drain them on a paper towel.
  • Now you are ready to assemble your salad, checking the seasoning and adding some salt and pepper to your taste. Keep the croutons for the top, so they don’t go soggy. Go easy on the mayonnaise: the idea is to lightly coat the ingredients, not dowse them, despite how fricking great that sounds.

Now all you have to do is share and enjoy your ‘salad’!

*It really does not. But the main component is mozzarella so I’m basically correct.

‘Happiness is a Warm Bun’ -John Lennon*

One of the current aims of this blog of mine is to explore and convey my values and the philosophy that drives my work around food. So far I have done some ramblings about the importance I see in simplicity and of letting go of the perfection ideal.

To explore the thought process behind why I create the things I do and what values I hold dear, I had to think about the basic reason why I do anything: trying to be happy. I am a really happy kind of person; I have my stuff to deal with like everyone else, but characteristically I’m smiling and laughing.

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My dog Nancy and me.

Part of seeking and making happiness in my life involves enjoying the happiness of others, and this probably the most fundamental driver behind my food creations. I like to see other people be as amused, entertained or pleased by the things that I am happy about as I am. Very often I am to be found shamelessly eating my way to happiness, so it stands to reason that this is one of the key values I apply to my food design, with the intention of spreading all that happiness around. And also sharing ensures that I don’t eat a whole batch of freshly baked cinnamon buns by myself.

I have previously mentioned that part of being happy is about being comfortable with who you are; which is why my valuing it goes hand in hand with my valuing and embracing the process of refinement by learning to be okay with not being perfect or creating perfect things. A lack of self-esteem, or a fear of failing, will only get in the way of being happy if I let it.

I really feel like eating a batch of a few cinnamon buns right now.

*He didn’t say/sing that at all. But maybe he should have.

K.I.S.S.

keep-it-simple

 

When I first started design as a discipline it was at secondary school with Graphics class, my favourite class after Art! I think that may have had a bit to do with my never-ending obsession with accuracy. One of our first lessons was ‘Keep it Simple and Succeed’. It remains one of the most important lessons I have learnt and I apply it to lots of parts of my life and my creative ventures. Simplicity can be a deceptively hard thing to strive for though.

Image retrieved March 2, 2014 from http://scenturacreationsblog.com/5-reasons-to-keep-it-simple/