Friday, July 25, 2014

Gibassier-A French Anise and Orange Flavored Loaf

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While vacationing in Aix-en-Provence a few years ago, I was too busy enjoying one of the best brioches of my entire life to notice if the patisserie there sold these buttery rich French breakfast breads studded with candied orange peel and flavored with orange blossom water and aniseed. The gibassier. Often called fougasse-prounced "foogass"-, a flatbread that is usually slashed to form shapes, the Gibassier appears to have originated in Lourmarin, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southeastern France.

Not a difficult bread, the Gibassier needs a little more time as it involves using a starter or biga made at least 14-16 hours ahead of making the dough. This adds flavor and complexity and helps to preserve the keeping qualities of the bread. I was lucky to find the orange blossom water, but not so with the candied orange peel, the commercial variety which I do not like, so I used chopped dried apricots as suggested by Aparna, admin of We Knead to Bake, this being the 19th edition. On Aparna's blog, My Diverse Kitchen, you can see step-by-step photos of how to shape the Gibassier. Below is a watercolor version of the Gibassier-a little serendipity!

Gibbasier: A French Anise and Orange Flavored Loaf
Adapted from Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads authored by Ciril Hitz

Ingredients For Starter (Biga)
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup milk, or more to make a slightly stiff, but smooth dough
  • 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
For the Dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup orange blossom water, if not available, either leave it out or use 1/2 teaspoon orange extract. Another substitute might be warm orange juice instead of the 1/8 cup warm water 
  • 1/8 cup warm water (or orange juice
  • 3-1/4 cups bread flour
  • Biga (from above)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons anise seed
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel, or same amount chopped dried apricots soaked in warm orange-drain
  • 1-2 teaspoons orange zest
For Glazing and Dusting the Gibassier
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup clarified butter (ghee), you can make your own ghee by placing unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Let it boil until it turns golden. Strain out the solids. Store in a glass jar.
  • Vanilla sugar or caster sugar
  1. 14-16 hours ahead, make the biga by mixing the flour, milk and yeast together until smooth. If too stiff, add a little more milk to achieve the smooth dough. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and let stand at room temperature for about 14-16 hours. At the end of the time, the dough will have risen some and have a fermented look.
  2. Next day, make the dough with a food processor or a heavy duty stand mixer. I used the food processor so will go with those directions.
  3. Put the eggs, olive oil and orange blossom water in the processor bowl and mix well. Then add the warm water and mix again. Caution your water is not too hot or the eggs will curdle.
  4. Tear the biga up into chunks, add it along with the bred flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Knead with the processor until the dough is smooth. Add the slightly softened butter in increments of three, mixing well after each addition. The dough should be soft and supple.
  5. Add the candied orange peel or apricots, aniseed and the zest. Knead until incorporated into the dough.  Shape in a round and place in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat well. Cover loosely and allow the dough to double in volume, about 2 hours.
  6. When dough, turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 12 equal rounds and let rise for about 20 minutes. To shape, flatten each round into an oval or semi-circle. Make three cuts in the semi-circle, one in the center and two on either side of the middle cut. Make sure the cuts open up into neat slits. Then using scissors, make 4 snips along the arched side of the dough, equidistant apart.
  7. Transfer the Gibassier to a parchment-lined baking sheet making sure to stretch it a little so the cuts open up well and the slits spread apart. Let the dough rise for about 30-45 minutes until puffy.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes until they turn golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and brush the hot Gibassier with the clarified butter. Immediately after, press the brushed side down lightly into the caster sugar. Let cool. Serve slightly warm or a room temperature. Makes 12 large Gibassier.
This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Black and White Wednesday #139-The Gallery

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Welcome to the gallery for Black and White Wednesday #139, a lovely collection of monochromatic culinary images from a very talented group of photographers and food bloggers. Enjoy! Next week, Aparna-Stories of the Mahe Coast will be hosting #140 whereupon Black and White Wednesday will go on summer break and resume on September 3, 2014. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this edition. I'm always thrilled to see your photos!

Barro Negra-Shri V
An Idyllic Restaurant Terrace-Rosa
Hot Momos-Aparna
Cesto D'aglio/Basket of Garlic-Simona

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Fresh Chunky Basil Tomato Sauce and Announcing Black and White Wednesday #139

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This chunky slightly piquant tomato sauce is perfect served over a sturdy pasta such as a small penne or rotini. The sauce is redolent with fresh basil and enhanced with a bold red wine reminiscent of  tomato sauces enjoyed while visiting Italy. Not only can the sauce be served over pasta, but makes a delicious and quick sauce for pizza.

Although we are not first-time gardeners, this is the first year we have planted one in coastal Georgia. We are learning from our mistakes, but also enjoying the fruits of our labor. Our tomatoes have done well, especially the Cherokee Purple, its deep purple-red hue brilliant on a simple tomato sandwich. This recipe does not specify a variety of tomato, so I have used a mixture in this sauce.

Chunky Basil Tomato Sauce
Recipe Adapted From Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

  • 8 cups, coarsely chopped peeled tomatoes, about 4 lbs/2kg
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2/3 cup red wine
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 small can (6 oz/156mL) tomato paste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a very large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered , for about 40 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency, stirring frequently. To freeze, cool sauce completely and package in freezer containers. Freeze, using within 6 months. 
  2. This sauce can also be canned. Directions for preparing jars, etc can be found on Ball Fresh Preserving. Process the tomatoes 35 minutes for pint (500mL) jars and 40 minutes for quart (1L).

Cherokee Purple Tomato
The above image is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #138 hosted by yours truly. Rules for participation can be found here.  Looking forward to your contributions to this event! I will be accepting images up to 12 noon, New York time, on Wednesday, July 23. The roundup will be posted shortly thereafter. The image was converted to black and white using Adobe Camera Raw. 

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Demise of the Shrimp Boat "Dammit"-Black and White Wednesday #137

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For the longest time, the shrimp boat "Dammit" along with Po Boy Too was moored in the Vernon River near the mouth of the Burnside River as one turns left on the ICW to head out to Wassau Island.  The shrimp boats were quite productive in their day, but the price of diesel fuel and the rising costs of maintaining the boats led to their demise.  The owners of these books basically abandoned them and they were left to eventually either fall apart and sink, break their moorings and randomly float with the tide until they were washed up ashore or hit a dock or purposely moved to avoid being a navigation hazard.

The Shrimp Boat "Dammit" in Better Days
 "Dammit" Vernon River-Savannah
The once proud "Dammit" Sinks During Move
Derelict Dammit
"Dammit" Vernon River

The black and white image of the shrimp boat"Dammit" is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #137 hosted by its founder, Susan and is now managed by Cinzia

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tamale Pie-Cooking From the Pantry

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We all have busy lives, so I wanted to come up with an easy, yet delicious dish using food that most of us keep in our pantry, freezer and refrigerator, such as canned cream corn, cornmeal, green olives, jarred salsa and raisins, along with everyday spices and the ubiquitous boneless chicken breasts that I'm never without. 

Making proper tamales is no easy task.The tamale pie was created to have all the flavors of a real tamale, but not the work or the expense. There are a zillion recipes for tamale pies out there, meat versions, vegetarian, all with a flavorful sauce , but consistent in the dish is a cornmeal topping or crust. In my tamale pie, I first sautéed  boneless chicken breast strips seasoned with a Southwestern rub, then gently cooked them in beer. The alcohol cooks out in the process, but you prefer, you can substitute chicken broth or water. Chicken cooked this way is also delicious for tacos, enchiladas and burritos. This flavorful chicken was then combined with a jar of tomatillo salsa, whole kernel corn, chopped green olives and golden raisins. The raisins were a perfect foil to the spicy mix. A soft polenta like cornmeal topping finished it off and made it ready for the oven. There is no cheese in this tamale pie, but crumbled queso or feta can be dotted around the top after the pie comes out of the oven. For serving, sprinkle cilantro, chopped avocado and green onion over the finished pie.

For the Braised Chicken

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces

Spice Rub
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion power
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour

Braising ingredients
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
1/2-3/4 cup beer, chicken broth or water

Combine the spice rub ingredients. Rub into the chicken breast pieces. Let sit for 20 minutes. In a heavy skillet, heat the butter and the oil. Saute chicken breast pieces in batches, removing to a plate when golden brown. Drain off excess oil in pan, put the chicken breast pieces back into the pan, along with the garlic and jalapeno chiles. Add the 1/2 cup beer, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook about 15 minutes. If the broth cooks away before the chicken is done, add a tablespoon or so of the remaining beer. At then end of cooking, the chicken will be beautifully glazed. Set aside.

Tamale Pie
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 14-3/4 ounce can creamed corn
1-1/4 cups chicken broth
The braised chicken, above
1-16 ounce jar tomatillo salsa, mild or medium
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/3 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
Chopped tomatoes, cilantro, diced avocado and, sliced green onion
Crumbled queso or feta, if desired.

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Whisk in the cornmeal. reduce heat. Whisking constantly, cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the creamed corn; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine braised chicken, salsa, corn, olives and golden raisins. Place in a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Spoon the cornmeal mixture over the chicken mixture. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until the pie is heated throughout. Top with garnishes above. Serves 4

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Cantaloupe Rum Cocktail

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Another melon that is so good when bought in season, the cantaloupe is actually a muskmelon, its pastel colored flesh is high in vitamin A. A ripe cantaloupe has an ambrosial smell and tastes wonderful in this cocktail using rum, simple syrup and the juices and zest of a lime and an orange. If you desire a non-alcoholic drink, just omit the rum and add sparkling water after straining, however, I think the rum and cantaloupe go quite well together. Watermelon will also be delicious in this cocktail, however I don't think a honeydew melon has the depth of flavors necessary for success with this cocktail.

Cantaloupe Rum Cocktail
Makes 1 drink
  • 6 teaspoons light rum
  • 3 1/2 ounces ripe Cantaloupe melon, diced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus 1/2 teaspoon grated zest
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice, plus 1/2 teaspoon grated zest
  • dash simple syrup
  1. Process all ingredients with smashed ice in a blender and then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a slice of cantaloupe or thin slice of lime or orange.

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Watermelon Jalapeño Cooler Garnished with Candied Jalapeños

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Watermelon Jalapeño Cooler

Watermelon speaks of summer! It is de rigueur for the 4th of July, to enjoy on the beach, or on a newspaper-lined picnic table outdoors. Watermelons are available year round, but the sweetest, freshest melons are those grown locally. As a child growing up on a farm, I remember the summer my dad planted several acres of watermelon and cantaloupe not for sale, but just because he loved both. He told all the townspeople and farmers to pick whatever that wanted from this huge field of green vining plants dotted with  light and dark green striped watermelons bursting with flavor contrasted with the pastel orange, sometimes gray-green, cantaloupe.

I'll save the cantaloupe for another post. Today's speciality drink is a non-alcoholic watermelon jalapeño cooler made with fresh watermelon, jalapeño simple syrup and candied jalapeños for garnish. A refreshing libation with a touch of heat!  My garden with only a lone jalapeño plant is putting out peppers at a tremendous rate, so I have plenty with which  to experiment.

Watermelon Jalapeño Cooler

  • 5 cups chopped seeded watermelon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Jalapeño Simple Syrup (recipe below)
  • Candied Jalapeños, for garnish
In a blender, place chopped watermelon, jalapeño simple syrup and blend until smooth. Pour over ice and garnish with a few candied jalapeños and a lime slice.

Jalapeño Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds and all)
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and peppers and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let steep 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup and allow to cool. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keeps a long time in the refrigerator. For use with cocktails, add 1 tablespoon vodka to the mixture after it cools. Then, basically, it keeps forever in the refrigerator, if you have it that long.

The black and white image above is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday #137, hosted by Simona of Briciole. BWW was created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and is now managed by Cinzia of Cindy Star Blog.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 
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