Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rosemary Infused Oil Potato Braids for #wbd2014

Rosemary Infused Oil Potato Braids 
2 medium potatoes
2 cups water, lukewarm
5 cups bread flour
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rosemary honey
1/4 cup rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil*

* Pour the oil to a small saucepan and add 2 rosemary sprigs. Heat until it starts to simmer, then turn off the heat and let infuse for half an hour. Just before using the oil, discard the rosemary

Peel and dice the potatoes.
Pour the water in a pot and add the potatoes. Cook until very tender.
Mash the potatoes in the cooking water. Pour into a big bowl or stand mixer bowl.
Add 3 of the 5 cups of flour, the honey, rosemary oil and start mixing all ingredients.
Add the salt and the rest of the flour to form a rough mass, then beat for about 3 minutes with the dough hook until smooth. If by hand, beat with a wooden spoon and then by hand until smooth.
If still sticky, just add a few sprinkles of flour.
If using a mixer, continue mixing , adding flour if sticky until the dough will clean the sides of the bowl and form and elastic ball that will rotate with the hook (about 10 minutes).
If by hand, turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead with the push-turn-fold procedure until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean cotton dish towel and set aside to rise to double in volume, about 2 hours
Punch down the dough and place on a floured surface and divide in 2 equal pieces.
Then divide the one piece into 3 equal parts
Let rest for a few minutes and then roll each part into a strip about 14 inches long. Braid the 3 parts loosely into a loaf.
Do this for the other piece of dough.

Place braids on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with the towel and leave at room temperature to rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400° F 20 minutes before baking.
Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F
(If using a convection oven, reduce heat to 50° F )
Continue baking until the braids are golden brown, for an additional 20 minutes.
If the braids appear to be browning to quickly, cover with foil.
The braids are baked when tapping the bottom crust and it make a hollow sound.
Remove the braids from the oven and place on a rack to cool

With this bread, I'm participating today to the World Bread Day 2014 #wbd2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pan di Ramerino - Vegan Rosemary and Raising Traditional Tuscany Sweet Rolls

I remember when, during Easter, my grandmother would take me to the bakery around the corner during those first sunny and warm days in Florence, and would buy me one of these special rolls. Not so sweet, just right and studded with raisins and sweet rosemary leaves.

Actually, I did not like the rosemary leaves at all and I took them all out before biting into the sweet golden doughy roll. Some bakerys used to sprinkle sugar o glaze on top so the roll would be sweeter and each baker had their own shape.

Considering that I had (have?!!) a wonderful sweet tooth wolfing down chocolate cupcakes with super sweet frostings and candy bars, this roll was something very different and reminded me of the old times, when the only heating system in the house was a chimney or wood stove. When the only treat was prepared and eaten during the holidays or sunday lunch.
Pan di Ramerino can now be found in a few bakeries all year around and in all during Easter.
The shape differ and usuallly are round with a cross cut on top of it (remember hot cross buns?) or braided. I chose the braid
When I announced that I was going to make and bake the rolls, (a part from a roar of laughter) I was told that I could go and buy them at the local bakery.
Instead, I made my own. Vegan too!
These are for you, Nonna!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First Post - Ode to Root Beer and Panzanella Salad

Welcome to Sundown in the Garden!
Now, I was looking for that last can of root beer! I looked in the fridge, in the pantry, in the cellar and in the garage, but nothing!
I can't believe that I drank that last can!
Sure, I have some delicious mozzarella cheese, Parma ham and pecorino from Tuscany, but I don't have a single root beer can.
You would say: go out and buy a 6-pack and stop complaining!
The problem is, you cannot find root beer in Italy, no way!
I have to buy it online and it is extremely expensive, but then, when I open a can and pour that sweet and foamy delight in my tall glass, ahhh...I am smacking my lips!
I would never dream of sharing my precious can with another one, simply because I was told that root beer tastes like untrue!
The best root beer I ever tasted was in St. Louis, MO and will never forget how good it was
But here? Again, no way!
I'll just have to go to my garden and pick some ripe tomatoes and cucumbers: I will try to forget my lack of root beer with a panzanella salad

Panzanella - Tuscan bread salad 
serves 4 
1/2 loaf dry tuscan loaf (without salt)
2 cucumbers
2 big tomatoes or about 10 small ones
1 medium red onion
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves
Water for soaking

Put the bread in a large bowl and cover with water.
Let stand until all bread is drenched with water, about 5 to 10 minutes
Peel off the crust and squeeze the excess water from the bread.
Put in another large bowl and fluff up the bread between your fingers
Peel and slice thinly the cucumber, then add to bread
Dice the tomatoes and add to bread
Slice the onion very thin, then add to bread
Add vinegar, oil and salt
Add torn basil leaves
Toss well and store in the fridge until ready to serve
You may want to add a little more oil
Panzanella can be served as appetizer or main dish