Monday, July 26, 2021

Make your own ciabatta bread


This is my recipe for a simple yet foolproof ciabatta bread loaf, one of my favourite loaves! The recipe is straight from my book Savour (now available as an ebook from Kobo and from Barnes & Noble, and also from Amazon for Kindle), where there are many more bread recipes, and more. In the meantime enjoy this one!



300ml warm water

2 teaspoons active yeast granules

14⁄teaspoon sugar

300g high-grade flour, plus extra for dusting

pinch of salt 

Makes 1 loaf

Place the warm water in a large bowl, add the yeast and sugar and set aside for 5 minutes. When the yeast starts to bubble, add the flour and salt and work into a dough for about 5 minutes using your fingers. This dough will be too sticky to roll on the bench or table so knead it in the bowl (although it feels more like mixing). Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about 2 hours. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and turn out the risen dough onto the tray bottom-side up. The dough will be sticky so you will need to scrape it from the sides of the bowl; it is also likely to be runny – prop up the outside edges of the baking paper with a couple of small ovenproof ramekins to avoid ending up with an extremely large flat loaf (the ramekins can be filled with water to create a steam oven effect - image 1)). Dust the top of the loaf with the extra flour. Bake in a preheated 180 ̊C (350 ̊F) oven for 25–30 minutes.

 Remove the bread from the oven, wrap in a tea towel, then place in a plastic bag and seal. Leave the bread in the bag for 30 minutes so that the steam will cook it further and make it soft and deliciously chewy. If you prefer a ciabatta with a crunchy crust, eat it while it’s still warm – yum!



Tips and variations

Although some recipes add 1–2 tablespoons of olive oil to the dough, I prefer an oil-free version so I can drizzle olive oil on it when it is freshly cut and ready to eat. I also like to dip ciabatta slices in a little oil flavoured with crushed cumin seeds and salt or basil leaves.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Beautiful Brown Lentil Salad with Edible Flowers



500 g brown lentils
1 leaf bay
water and salt for boiling
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
salt to taste
Cucumber, half
Rocket salad
Edible flowers 

A fresh lentil salad for summer! Soak the lentil overnight, then rinse well, add plenty of water, a bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Cook until 'al dente', or as soft as you like (but not mushy). Drain and briefly rinse under cold water. Place in a mixing bowl, add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt to taste, and half a cucumber chopped into small pieces. Mix well. Line a serving plate or large shallow bowl with rocket salad leaves, spoon the lentils on top, then sprinkle with petals and small edible flowers (I used borage, verbena, dianthus, calendula and cornflowers).
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, March 8, 2021

Vegan Inari-san sushi with flowers


Wash the sushi rice (or Japanese rice) several times in cold water, until the water runs clear, and then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. 

This was for a large party so I cooked 1 kg of rice. I divided the cooked rice into 4, to one I added Japanese preserved mushrooms, to the second toasted black sesame seeds and salt, to the third sakura furikake, and to the fourth shiso furikake. But you can just add sushi vinegar if you don't have furikake or other ingredients. Then I used the rice to fill inari pockets (available in Japanese and Asian store, and many supermarkets. I decorated the sushi pockets with dianthus, calendula, cornflower and violets. I also added some cutting of carrot paper (like nori sheet, but made of carrots), chives, and little mushrooms. I also added some calendula petals to the soy sauce. 

 Photos and recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©