Caprese Bread

Caprese Bread 7

Summer is drawing to a close. She is taking a step back – gently, leisurely, in that distinctly summer mien that only endless months of scorching heat can evoke – to make way for fall, whom will end the year in a wreath of fire, nature’s last and jubilant shout, a swan song fit for kings.

Yes, I do love fall. It is my very favorite season. I have been yearning for fall ever since July.

It’s so close I can almost taste it.

But the summer heat lingers here on the humid shores of the Mediterranean, and I am resolved to make the best of it.

The very epitome of a summer spent by the Mediterranean is the tomato. Our crowning glory, second only to olive oil, the red jewel in the culinary treasure box of all ancient civilizations.

I also happen to despise it. Profoundly. I find them quite revolting, with they’re oozing liquid and dodgy little seeds and metallic smell. It’s quite a deep loathing I harbor.

But then again, I find it tolerable once it’s been cooked or processed in any way. So we’re going to have to work with that.

Back to summer classics. While debating tomatoes, one cannot help but be reminded of the classic summer salad, simple yet refreshingly delicious, or so I am told. I speak, of course, of the Caprese Salad, which includes tons and tons of fresh, raw tomatoes as its key ingredient.

Now we can’t be havin’ none of that. But the flavor combination appears to be tried and tested and mostly fool proof, even for a professed tomato hater such as myself. And it is so very nearly the end of summer.

So I gave it a spin. Please dig into our…

Caprese Bread 4

Caprese Bread

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 30 minutes baking time

Servings: one loaf

You will need:

  •  2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4oz, or 125gr fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, or sour cream

Caprese Bread 1

Preheat your oven on medium-high. Grease a loaf pan. Set aside.

Combine all your dry ingredients in a bowl.

Caprese Bread 3

Stir in the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

Caprese Bread 2

In a separate bowl, mix all your liquid ingredients, beating well to incorporate the eggs.

Mix into the dry mixture, then transfer into the prepared loaf pan.

I did at several points during this process try taking pictures, but the batter does, once again, distinctly resemble puke. I wonder why this keeps happening to me.

Back to the point. Bake this little puppy for approximately 30 minutes, but begin checking for done-ness at about 20 minutes, as ovens vary greatly.

Caprese Bread 6

Serve piping hot, straight from the oven, or reheated in the toaster. Drizzle with olive oil, or slather in herby Gorgonzola butter, or rosemary Parmesan butter, both of which will appear on this blog two weeks from now 🙂

Caprese Bread 8

Enjoy!

Clara

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Vegetable Cannelloni

vegetable cannelloni

Sóc una fan incondicional de la beixamel. Des de sempre. De fet, una de les meves primeres memòries d’infància involucra una torrada amb un ou dur al damunt tot cobert de beixamel. Mmmmmm

M’agrada calenta, m’agrada quan es refreda i fa aquella capa més sòlida per sobre i inclús m’agrada quan no l’has remenat prou bé i hi queden grumollets de farina amb mantega. I, evidentment, encara m’agrada més si té al damunt una bona capa de formatge fos. Però la beixamel té un problema, i és que, a banda que només mirar-la ja engreixa, acostuma a formar part de plats més aviat pesats, i això fa que durant els mesos d’estiu el seu ús quedi pràcticament eradicat. Penseu-hi: pair una lassanya amb totes les seves capes de pasta i de carn i de pasta i de carn tot recobert de beixamel i de formatge gratinat al bell mig de l’agost? Ja t’agafa calor només d’imaginar-t’ho. Però no trobeu desolador no poder menjar beixamel durant gairebé 4 mesos a l’any per culpa dels seus companys de plat?

Doncs bé, és per això que avui us presento un dels companys més fidels de la beixamel, els canelons, però en una versió més lleugera i estiuenca perquè pugueu seguir-ne gaudint encara que estigueu a 30ºC a l’ombra.

vegetable cannelloni 2

Vegetable Cannelloni

Servings: 20 cannelloni

Prep time: about 1 hour

You will need:

  • 20 pasta sheets (you can use pre-rolled cannelloni too and fill them, but I did it the traditional way)
  • bechamel in abundance, the concept “too much bechamel” doesn’t exist (feel free to use any recipe you have)
  • grated mozzarella (not the fresh one, the “dry” one usually used for pizza)
  • any kind of vegetables you happen to have in the fridge (I used the ones in the picture below). The amount needed is really difficult to say, but don’t worry, the leftovers turn into a great side dish to use another day!

vegetable cannelloni prep 1

Start by cutting all your vegetables into sticks. In fact, you can cut them any shape you want (diced, hearts, stars…) but then the cannelloni’s assembling will be more difficult. Add some olive oil to a large pan and cook the vegetables until just tender (if they are overcooked at this point, you’ll end having a disgusting vegetable-purée inside your cannelloni).

vegetable cannelloni prep 2

Cook the pasta sheets in plenty of water with salt and some oil (just read the package, it’ll give you the instructions) and, when cooked, carefully transfer each and every sheet into a bowl filled with cold water. Let them cool for a while and then place them one by one on a kitchen towel, just like I did in the picture below. Again, do it veeeeeery carefully, think that one broken pasta sheet will be one cannelloni less in your stomach.

vegetable cannelloni prep 3

Now the fun part: wash your hands and get ready for the mess of the day. Put some vegetables on one side of each pasta sheet and roll it trying not to lose the vegetable filling along the way. Sounds easy, but i’ts quite tricky. You’ll probably lose part of the vegetables and your rolls will unroll themselves many times. Sorry, it is what it is. No one said cannelloni making was easy.

Now pour some bechamel (which you made during the pasta-cooking process) on the bottom of a baking dish and play tetris with your cannelloni until you have them all in place.

vegetable cannelloni prep 4

 Cover it with the rest of your bechamel and sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.

vegetable cannelloni prep 5

Bake them until brown and crispy.

vegetable cannelloni 3Enjoy!

 

Pistachio Mozzarella Salad

Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 6

I will keep today’s post short and sweet. Summer is hurtling our way, temperatures are rising and no amount of open windows can coax a breeze into my apartment. To me, summer also signifies a natural aversion towards all things hot. Namely, hair dries, toasters, ovens, and stoves. Oh, and computers.

And since I figured that none of you harbors the wish to sit in front of a toasty PC when the sun is baking the pavement outside, I will cut my post short, and let you dive into this refreshing, no-heat-source-requiring salad which you come together in a flash. I guarantee even the most obstinate salad haters will fall to their knees before this little green gem. Honestly, who doesn’t like pesto? Who doesn’t like pistachios? Who doesn’t like mozzarella?

I know I do.

If you don’t, we have two more lovely salads that will make your summer a breeze:

Provolone Salad

Strawberry-Almond-Brie Salad

 

Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 7

Pistachio Mozzarella Salad

Serving: as many as you like/need/can eat on your own

Prep time: 10 minutes

You will need:

  • mixed baby greens
  • mozzarella balls, halved
  • pistachios, shelled
  • pesto

Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 1 Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 2 Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 3

Place your salad greens in a large bowl. Gently toss in the halved mozzarella balls and pistachios, making sure they don’t end up at the bottom of the bowl. You can mix in the pesto at this point, or serve it in a pretty bowl so everyone can add it to their own taste.

Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 8

And that’s it. No, seriously. That’s it.

Mozzarella Pistachio Salad 5