Naan are by far my favorite kind of flatbread. They are so easy to make, the ingredients are always in my pantry, they are so adorable, but also these beauties are extremely delicious. This flatbread is so elastic, soft and airy, with a lovely buttery and toasted sesame seed flavor. It is such a rustic bread and yet so sophisticated. The technique of making them is quite simple and the active part takes no more than 30 minutes. The passive part, the part when the dough rests or rises is the most challenging part, if you will. It takes about 2 hours to rise, so this recipe isn’t the most suitable if you are in a hurry. But if you have some time to spare, trust me, the result is so rewarding and surely it is worth waiting every minute.
- 300g all-purpose flour + 35g extra (for knidding) – 2 + ¼ cups
- 125ml lukewarm water – 36-40°C – ½ cup
- ½ package active dry yeast (4g)
- 25g brown sugar – 2 Tbsp
- 15 ml milk – 1 Tbsp
- 4g sea salt – 1 tsp
- 1 small egg (35g)
- 30 butter – 2 Tbsp
- 9g black sesame seeds – 1 Tbsp
- In a small bowl combine water, sugar and yeast and let aside for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the mixture should be foamy.
- In a large bowl combine white flour (sifted) and salt and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, the egg and milk and mix with a wooden spatula until you form a ball.
- Bring the dough on a floured working surface and knead it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should be smooth (picture).
- Place dough in the bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size (picture).
- After 1 hour place the dough back on the working surface and knead vigorously to knock out the air bubbles. Form a ball and cut it into 8 triangles (half the ball, half the halves and half the quarters) (picture).
- Take a triangle, connect two angles and form a small ball. Proceed the same with the remaining triangles (picture).
- Place the small balls on a parchment paper-lined baking tray, cover with a clean towel and let it rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- After 30 minutes place a ball of dough on a floured working surface and deflate it with a rolling pin. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (about 1/8 Tbsp) and continue rolling the dough until 1 inch thick. If you sprinkle the sesame seeds when the naan is already flatten, they would not stick to the dough, and they would fall in the skillet.
- Heat a medium skillet on medium heat and place the naan seed side up. Cook for 2 minutes, or until light brown on the bottom, turn over and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Place the flatbreads on a plate, one on top of the other. Brush them on both sides with melted butter. Enjoy with stews or with diffrent kind of spreads.
I love baked apples. They taste like those chilly nights of fall. Like the rustle of those wet leaves, on your way home from school. Like the smell of the hoarfrost on an early October morning. They taste like childhood. Baked apples are exquisite in their own simplicity, they are the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. I can’t imagine an easier dessert, maybe some Nutella spread on a slice of bread (if Nutella even qualifies as a desert).
I woke up this morning with baked apples on my mind, so I took some local sweet and sour apples, I carved them using a melon baller (this step could be easily made using a vegetable knife) and I stuffed them with a date, oatmeal and brown sugar mixture, flavored with cinnamon and vanilla. I dressed them up with a tiny piece of coconut oil (butter would have worked just fine) and I baked them for about half an hour. The result was a stunning vegan dessert, extremely flavorful and so tasty!
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
- 4 large apples (Honeycrisp and Granny Smith work just fine)
- ½ cup rolled oats – about 70g
- 10 pitted dates – about 50g
- 2-3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 4-6 Tbsp water
- Preheat the oven at 190°C / 375°F (gas mark 5).
- Finely chop the dates (picture).
- In a bowl combine the oats with the chopped dates, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
- Using a melon baller or a sharp vegetable knife cut out the stem and the core, leaving a 3cm thick bottom (for the stuffing to remain in the apple during the cooking process).
- Stuff each apple with about 6 tsp of stuffing and press the stuffing with your fingers after the first 3 tsp.
- Take a small ceramic tray and cover the bottom with 4-6 Tbsp of water. Place the apples in the tray and top them with a ¼ Tbsp of coconut oil each. Bake them in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes (depending on the type and on the size). They are ready when they are tender but not mushy and the oatmeal on top is golden.
- Serve them warm with the juices from the tray drizzled on top.
Since fall is basically here and I’ve been shivering for days, I tend to incorporate more autumnal flavors in my dishes. And what would possibly be this glorious season without its vegetables? I simply love fall and its delightful veggies, little pieces of hearty and flavorful jewels. Today I stumbled across some tiny yet flavorful blood-red beetroot so I decided to befriend them with some lovely pumpkin seeds and some grated Grana Padano. The result was a vibrant autumnal pesto. While my beets were gentle roasting in the oven, I boiled al dente some dry pasta. I usually prepare my own pasta from scratch, but now I offered a chance to a box of trofie which was sitting on a shelf for quite some time. The dish was so hearty, and colorful with an extremely interesting taste, a bold, rich, astringent, quite citrusy taste. It tasted like October.
Since Pesto alla Genovese, the original version of this pasta sauce goes so well with trofie, I was so curious to find out if these funny looking pasta resonates with my roasted beetroot as well. They do resonate and every bite is such a rewarding experience! Continue reading Trofie with Roasted Beetroot and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
I’ve always had mixed feelings about eggplants, I haven’t been able to figure out whether I like them or not. They are so big, and shiny and… weird. I try almost daily to find a way to include them in my diet, especially because I personally grew them in my own veggie garden. I find their taste at least interesting but I cannot stand their spongy texture. Yet, there is a delicious Italian dish, melanzane alla parmigiana or parmezan eggplants which is a cross between a lasangna and a moussaka. I don’t know what makes this dish exquisite, maybe the way the tomato sauce’s acidity amplifies the taste of the eggplants or the way the parmesan’s taste dances together with the earthiness of the eggplant. Maybe all the reasons combined, but the taste is simply amazing! Continue reading Melanzane alla Parmigiana – Parmesan Eggplants
I have an almost irritating gastronomical curiosity, a curiosity that often leads to surprising (if not weird) culinary combinations. I love complex, technical and challenging things, but often I find myself yearning for simplicity. I’m not implying that those simple thing are the best, as well as I’m not implying that those complex are. I’m just saying that the simple things tend to fascinate, they tend to mesmerize. You simply get them and they simply get you.
One of those mesmerizing simple things are undoubtedly tomatoes à la Provençale, ripe tomatoes stuffed with flavorful bread crumbs. There are 2 tricky aspects about this recipe: the bread crumbs must be fresh, made from day old bread and the herbs should be fresh as well, not dried; dried bread crumbs and dried herbs aren’t quite a match made in heaven, at least not for this recipe. These being said, it’s impossible for me to describe how moth-watering these stuffed tomatoes are. The contrast between the sweet and juicy tomato and the crispy bread crumbs is so delightful and you cannot limit yourself at just one serving! Continue reading Tomatoes à la Provençale
As soon as the first leaf turns brown, I immediately start preparing soups, creams, stews and other semi-liquid and preferably hot dishes. I simply love the idea of having a melting pot on a stove, a pot that simmers quietly and makes the entire kitchen smell like fall. On this chilly Saturday morning, I decided it’s suitable, if not perfect, to make a delicious Tuscan bean soup, a flavorful Italian cannellini bean and prosciutto soup. It is so easy to make, you just have to saute some prosciutto, onion, carrots and celery, you deglaze the pan with wine, you cover the ingredients with cubed tomatoes and broth and you let the soup simmer. Before serving you add the beans and some baby spinach and the soup is ready. Simple as one, two, thee! The most intriguing part of this dish, and the source of its complex flavor profile, if I may, it’s the addition of a parmesan rind. This element gives the soup an unbelievable flavor! Next time you’ll be tempted to throw away a parmesan rind, think again and let the rind elevate a Tuscan bean soup. You won’t regret it! Continue reading Tuscan Bean Soup
I remember watching Ratatouille (the movie, not the dish) when I was a senior in high school and I instantly knew that this veggie stew would become my favorite dish. I was wrong, but only by a few years. The very next day I did the groceries and I made my first Ratatouille, a blend, boring, half-decent stew. So I forgot about Ratatouille and its humble existence. But last year I decided it was about time to rewatch that delightful movie and the dish simply enchanted me. Again. So I did some research, I made the dish and I simply felt in love. Ratatouille is a rustic, almost an austere dish, that kind of dish that makes you fall in love with it over and over again.
There are so many recipes for Ratatouille, you can saute it, you can bake it, you can serve the veggies firm, almost raw or you can simmer them slowly, until tender and incredibly flavorful. My favorite version is so simple but it’s quite time-consuming. After you chop the veggies, you saute them in olive oil, one veggie at a time, until you caramelize them nicely and this creates an amazing depth of flavor. Of course you can saute them all together in a large pot, but the result would be a nice stew, and not a decadent Ratatouille! Continue reading Ratatouille
Confit is a French cooking technique used for preserving poultry (duck, goose, rooster) which also involves roasting the meat in its own fat. The meat is seasoned to perfection and roasted slowly on low temperature in duck fat. The meat becomes incredibly tender, so tender that it simply melts in your mouth. This technique is also used for fruits and vegetables. The main difference is the fact that the cooking liquid is not an animal fat, but a vegetable fat for veggies or a sugar-based syrup for fruits.
Tomato confit is a wonderful way to cook these lovely veggies. The tomatoes are seasoned generously with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs. After that, they are slowly roasted on low temperature until they are tender, juicy and slightly caramelized on the edges. This technique brings out their own sweetness and concentrates their own flavor. This simple and humble ingredient can elevate almost every dish, from pasta, polenta or risotto, to sandwiches or crostini or can even be served as a side dish. Even though the tomato confit can be time-consuming, the effort definitely pays off! Continue reading Tomato Confit
This salad is actually a different approach to the classic “Prosciutto e Melone”, a very popular Italian antipasto. The smoked ham and the juicy melon are a wonderful combination, as the sweetness of the melon balances the saltiness of the ham. This combination is so simple but so complex in its own simplicity. So I took these two elements and I’ve integrated them in a summery salad. I added some juicy cherry tomatoes, some crunchy cucumber ribbons and some fresh mozzarella cheese. The result was a juicy, delicious and very satisfying salad. Extremely tasty and incredibly easy to make! Continue reading Melon and Prosciutto Crudo Salad
Whenever I engage myself in over-ambitious bakery projects, I end up by throwing away the egg whites. Of course I plan on using them the following days, but I almost never do. And I strongly dislike wasting and throwing things away. Lately, to avoid any waste (and all the bad energy that comes with it), I take 2 egg whites at a time, I wrap them in cling film square, I season them with sea salt, olive oil and fresh herbs and I poach them in hot water. This way, you get some flavorful egg white balls, perfect for a weekend brunch.
When you prepare a classic egg white omelette, the dish tends to be a bit blend, but using this technique, the egg whites are full of flavor. Another great advantage is the fact that you can prepare 3 or 4 packages at a time so in 15 minutes, you can prepare a very satisfying breakfast for the whole family. I usually serve my poached egg whites on a slice of homemade bread covered with a generous amount of avocado spread. Simple and so delicious! Continue reading Poached Egg Whites