Averil Gomes:

Look what the Dork (Doggy Stork) brought….

It’s a Girl!

And she blogs!

Meet Zara, the newest addition to my family :-)

Originally posted on Woof goes the Beagle:

It was a long ride to my new home … but I finally got there.

First thing I did was to check out the facilities.

Darn!

They had to put the plants up where I couldn’t reach them, didn’t they.

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I’m sure I’ll figure something out eventually.

I must say that car rides can be so tiring. So it was good that Ave had my crate all set up and ready. But there was a bear living in it and we hadn’t even been introduced. So I slept outside.

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I also got to choose from a range of cuddlies.

The rabbit seemed the most chewable with those lovely long ears. Though I would have preferred her slow braised with a side of carrots.

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I think I spoke out too loud!

Because the next thing I got was… you guessed it…

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Say Cheese! … Goan Pao Bread goes Cheddar

039It’s good to be back where it all began, here at ‘The Cook, The Baker and The Clay Boy Maker’.

I’m the laid back sort. I think I’ve said it before. Frankly, I tend to say it every now and then just in case someone out there hasn’t heard it yet and mistakes me for one of those hyperactive, eager-beaver sorts. But then, it’s what I received as part of my heritage, being a good Goan that is (read: person from the beautiful, sunny, beach-kissed land of swaying palm trees known as Goa or “amche Goi” as we like to refer to the motherland, or simply, “our Goa”). The only difference between me and the local ‘poder’ (pronounced po-dere) or baker from Goa is that I would most definitely swap the ubiquitous bottle of fiery Feni that they swig down without batting an eye or twitching a muscle, for dainty sips of a good Merlot or Reisling.

But then, I did pick up a bottle of Feni the last time I visited Goa, only because the bottle was ceramic and had that lovely old-fashioned look to it, and because it would make a nice addition to the pots and bottles sitting in my little balcony garden, probably with a nice money plant growing out of it. The only problem is I haven’t got down to drinking the Feni yet. Perhaps I shouldn’t talk about drinking, given that it’s Lent and the very least I can do is not talk about alcohol even though I did have a glass of wine recently. But then so did my priest at mass.  

So back to the good old pao which we Goans so love and cannot do without, that Goan Christians in particular have come to be named after it. So we’re referred to as ‘Macs’ by all and sundry, which comes from the Konkani “maka pao di re” or “give me bread”.

Pao is nothing more that a pillowy soft and fluffy, pull apart bread. In the old days when I was very young and Goa was on the family annual holiday list., toddy (sap which is tapped from palm trees) was used to ferment the dough and give it that lovely aroma and flavour which is missing from the pao you get in the market today. I haven’t used it in my recipe either but I decided to elevate the humble pao in my own way and used a lavish sprinkling of Sharp Cheddar both in the dough and on top of the bread just before baking.

Flavour??? Yup!!! There was loads of it.

017So here’s the list of ingredients -

3 cups AP Flour (+ extra for dusting etc)

2 tsps active dry yeast

1/2 cup tepid water (+ extra if required to form a smooth and elastic dough)

1/2 cup milk

1tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup Evoo (+ extra to line your bowl etc)

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (+ extra for grating on top after brushing the loaves with milk)

2 tbsps full cream milk for brushing the loaves

Make sure you prove the yeast for 10 mins in the water along with the teaspoon of sugar. Add the frothy yeast mix to the flour to which you’ve added in the salt. Add in the milk and knead the dough well for at least 12 – 15 minutes. Leave it to prove in a dry place for at least 2 hours. Once the dough has more than doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and knead it lightly. Roll it out and sprinkle on the grated cheese, bringing the dough over in the folding motion. Sprinkle over the balance cheese, ensuring that the dough has been evenly dotted with cheese throughout. Shape into even sized balls and either place on a prepared baking tray or in a baking dish. about an inch to an inch and a half apart. Cover and leave the loaves of pao to prove again for at;least another hour to an hour and a half.

Preheat your oven for at least 20 – 30 minutes at 220º C. Once the dough has doubled or trebled in size, brush the tops with milk and grate on some more cheese, as liberally or sparingly as you like. You could also do an egg-wash instead on the milk, but then the cheese gives the top of the pao such a lovely golden hue when baked, that the egg-wash seems quite unnecessary.

Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes… allow them to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes…

020021… before turning the loaves out onto a cooling rack for an additional 5 to 7 minutes…

024… and go pao crazy.

Cut into it and slather on some butter. Or just tear it apart and dunk glorious fragrant, warm chunks of luscious cheddar pao bread into your favourite gravy or curry. Believe me, it does go with everything.

037Enjoy!

I’m Back!

After a very long hiatus and I’ve finally decided to revisit the place that started me of on my food blogging journey. I may not be as regular as I’d like to be but I’ll try and post as often as I can. Here’s a shout out to Rhonda Sittig from http://thethankfulheart.wordpress.com who wrote in to check if I was still blogging on my other website. Thanks for your thoughtfulness Rhonda. I’ll be dropping by your blog as soon as possible. Hope you are well?

And to my fellow bloggers and all those who’ve continued to follow me here. Here’s to you all…I’m happy to be back :-)

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I’ve gone on record saying that I don’t quite care for chocolate chips. And it was true… up until I saw these little babies staring up at me one day and this recipe took shape.

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It’s simple, it’s scrumptious and the best part is that these cookies are perfectly bite sized.

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Here are the ingredients -

3/4 cup A. P. flour

1/4 cup butter (softened)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup baby white chocolate chips

1/4 cup dried cranberries (chopped and steeped overnight in 2 tablespoons white rum)

1 small egg

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

Get a medium sized bowl and cream the butter and sugar. Add the beaten egg, vanilla, salt, mixed spice and combine by folding the ingredients together. Add in the chocolate chips and cranberries and fold in. Finally add the flour that has been sifted with the baking powder and fold to combine.

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Refrigerate the cookie dough for about 10 to 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and line your cookie trays with parchment.

I wanted small bite sized cookies ( I got 14 cookies from this recipe which I halved from my original recipe), so I used a tablespoon to measure out the dough-balls…

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Bake the cookies for about 15 to 18 minutes till the bottoms begin to brown and the tops of the cookies get a touch of colour…

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Transfer the cookies onto a wire rack and let them cool completely before digging in…

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And since they were so perfectly sized I didn’t feel guilty eating more than one :-)

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A B(r)unch of Leftovers… Cheesy Foccacia Bites and a Rotizza

I should have posted this a while ago but I was away travelling and access to the internet was quite iffy… but well, but late than…

So here they are, a 2-in-1 recipe bonanza on… Leftovers!

Yes, apparently leftovers can make really tasty meals. Or so someone once told me many years ago and I yawned and said boo hoo and bah humbug or something to that effect.

I’ve got to come clean though you’ve probably guessed it by now. I’m not big on leftovers. I simply worked on perfecting the small meal mantra till I got it down to a pat. Or I would pray that a friend would call and say they were coming over and then I’d tell them to stay to dinner, which could be construed as deviousness on my part except that the meals were generally good and went down well with my guests :-)

But what do you do when it comes to something like bread which you’ve baked and couldn’t quite finish and it’s been a couple of days heading into being a week old and it’s still sitting in your fridge with a look that says “You made me and enjoyed me but now that I’m old and not quite finished you’re going to throw me away…” … (gulp!)

Now if you’ve been following this space you’ll know that I baked a Feta and Olive Herb Foccacia  recently, and it was really delicious. So I squirrelled away a bit and hid it away in the fridge thinking that I would eat it the next day and forgot all about it until 3 days had passed and I was foraging around looking for something to whip up real quick for brunch… and then I saw it and voilà my ‘Cheesy Foccacia Bites‘ look shape.

This was a super simple, easy to whip up dish which brought out all the flavour and goodness of the lovely foccacia I had baked earlier and took it up a notch into a realm all its own.

All you need is -

approx 2 cups of cubed leftover foccacia

bulb of one spring onion (minced)

green stalks of 2 small spring onions (minced)

2 small green chillies (de-seeded and chopped fine)

1 tomato (blanched, de-seeded and chopped fine)

6 button mushrooms (sliced fine)

1 tablespoon EVOO

1/4 cup shredded mozarella

squeeze of lime juice (optional)

Start by sautéing the chopped up spring onion bulb, green chillies and tomato in the olive oil till softened (3 – 4 mins). Add the sliced mushrooms and the spring onion greens (reserve some for garnishing) and cook them down till the mushrooms are soft. Add a pinch of salt at this point (you don’t need more than just an itsy-bitsy pinch). Now add the cubed foccacia and toss well.

Finish by adding the shredded mozarella. Cover and turn off the flame. The mozarella should melt into the bread. 

Serve the Cheesy Foccacia Bites hot, garnished with spring onion greens and a squeeze of lime juice (optional). 

P.s. This recipe also works well with any other left over bread (except for fruit or sweet bread varieties). Just add in some zataar, or if you don’t have any zataar some mixed dried herbs with a squeeze of lemon and some freshly pounded cumin should work quite well.

And now to the 2nd part of the double leftover brunch bonanza and the… ‘Rotizza’.

I sometimes find myself stuck with a few leftover rotis/chapatis (Indian flat bread) from an Indian meal made the previous day and try and use them in different ways to freshen them up and excite my palate. Now if you’ve been following this space for a while you’ll probably know that eggs are one of my all time favourite foods and I can eat them at breakfast, lunch (that includes brunch) and dinner… and yeah, as part of dessert as well. So it really didn’t take too much for me to come up with this Egg-Roti recipe… in fact I went to town with it and came up with a pizza of sorts and decided to name it just that… a Rotizza. My version of an Indian style pan fried pizza using leftover or even fresh roti/chapati.

For a single serving you’ll need -

2 rotis

3 eggs

6 – 7″ piece of leek (sliced fine)

1 cup of thinly sliced zucchini

1 large bell pepper (thinly sliced)

salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil (1 tablespoon per roti)

2 tomatoes (for grilling)

Sauté half the leek in a tablespoon of olive oil, spreading it out evenly across the pan as it cooks down and softens. Layer half the zucchini over the cooked leeks and top with half the thinly sliced rounds of bell pepper. I only had the green variety (aka capsicum) on hand but a combination of green, yellow and red works even better visually. Sprinkle over a little salt and allow the veggies to cook down a bit.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs, adding a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. You could add a splash of cream if you like into the egg mix (I didn’t) and pour half the egg over the veggies. Let the eggs cook for about 2 minutes on low. Do not cover the eggs… so the top remains a bit runny. Place the roti over the egg and gently press it down with a spatula. Cook for about a minute, then flip the rotizza over and fry it on the other side (roti side down) for a minute.

Remove the rotizza from the pan and repeat the procedure for the second roti. Plate up and serve garnished with grilled tomatoes and bell peppers.

Saturday Night Treats (Part 3 of 3)… Potato Salad

I’m down to the last part of my Saturday night dinner, a delicious Potato Salad to accompany my Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli and a Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia. And even though this is a rather simple Potato Salad, it took the most time in terms of preparation from the three dishes on the menu, because I made everything from scratch, apart from growing my own veggies.

Speaking of growing your own lovely fresh veggies you must pop over to Val’s blog over at 100 Square metres. Now Val grows his own veggies and quite an array of them too, the unfortunate part for me is that he lives across the seas in a completely different country and so I don’t have direct access to any of those delicious vegetables except through the pages of his blog.So do visit his blog and feast your eyes… the black and white photos he took recently are just amazing.

For my Potato Salad, I started out by making a Mustard, Pepper Mayonnaise, using 2 egg yolks, lime juice, white wine vinegar, salt, sugar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, freshly milled black pepper and water.

For the dressing -

1/4 to 1/3 cup of my home-made Mustard, Pepper Mayonnaise (I forgot to measure…sorry!)

1/2 cup hung yoghurt

1 tablespoon honey

a large pinch of salt

a level teaspoon of dried parsley

Blitz all the above ingredients in the food processor till well incorporated and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the salad.

For the potato salad… which serves 2, you’ll need -

3 medium potatoes (boiled, peeled and cubed)

2 spring onions (bulbs and tops of the stalks only)

1 stalk celery (chopped)

1 small cucumber (de-seeded, sliced and chopped)

a handful of roasted walnuts (chopped)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

about a 1/4 cup of the dressing

Add the potatoes, spring onions, celery, cucumber and paprika to the bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Everything… but the walnuts and the dressing

Meanwhile roast, cool and chop the walnuts and keep them aside in a separate bowl (also refrigerated).

Just before serving, mix the walnuts in with the salad and spoon over at least a 1/4 cup (or more) of the dressing.

Saturday Night Treats (Part 2 of 3)… Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia

… to continue where I left off from my previous post (Skewered Prawns with Zataar, Cumin and Red Chilli) I’ll move on to part 2 of my dinner…

A Feta and Olive Herb Focaccia

The baker’s wage… a mini focaccia… all to myself.

I spread out the dough a bit thinner than I normally would (do take a look at my earlier post on Cheesy Herbed Focaccia with Sun-dried Tomatoes) and I spritzed the oven with water just to get that crusty finish to the top and sides of the bread.

Look at these plump olives… delicious!

Here’s a list of ingredients for the focaccia -

3 cups A.P. Flour

12gms fresh yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup + 2 tablespoons tepid water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (+ extra for sprinkling over the focaccia b4 baking) dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 cup olive oil (+ extra for lining the bowl and brushing over the top of the focaccia)

3/4 cup chopped olives

3/4 cup feta (cubed)

pinch of sea salt (for sprinkling over the focaccia… not too much as the olives and feta are both salty… you can omit the salt too coz it’s not necessary in this recipe. But I love salt… and I have low blood pressure, so salt is often my best friend.)

Prepare the yeast the usual way (I used fresh yeast) … water, sugar and leave it for 15 minutes till it gets nice n foamy.

In a separate bowl sift the flour and add salt and the dried herbs. Mix it with the yeast, adding the 1/4 cup of olive oil and knead to form a soft dough. Leave the dough to prove for about 2 hours then knock back and knead again, dividing the dough into half. Using your hands shape the focaccia into the basic shape you like before transferring it onto a parchment lined baking tray. I made one oblong, one rectangular focaccia and a mini focaccia (I call it the baker’s wage :-)). Then using your fingertips punch and jab the dough to give it its dimpled look.

Generously sprinkle on the olives and dot the focaccia with feta, before leaving it to prove for another 1 1/2 hour, covered with a towel. Once the focaccia has risen, brush the top with olive oil, and sprinkle on some dried parsley and whole sea salt (optional).

Bake the bread in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for about 20 – 25 minutes…

Allow the focaccia to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into it. I used a pizza cutter and we ate almost an entire focaccia right then and there… dipping it into some extra virgin olive oil mixed with a combination of zataar, parsley, oregano and whole salt. I should send this over to YeastSpotting

And served the rest with my platter of skewered prawns and potato salad…