1. New Camera
2. New Herb garden

Unfortunately, NO TIME!!! ):

^ This photo was taken after about 1.5 hours of dehydrating, because the ‘summer’ sun was rapidly disappearing.

Oven-dried tomatoes

Tomatoes (of any variety)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Herbs (Basil, thyme, oregano would be lovely; I used thyme)
Garlic, bashed with the side of a knife

This is great for when you have way too many tomatoes… or even when you don’t.

Cut the tomatoes into evenly-sized bits. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle some salt on and scatter the herbs. Off into a 200-250 F oven for as long as it takes — for cherry tomato halves, around 3 hours. Warning: they shrink a lot! Don’t go crazy with the salt. Try not to eat too many out of the oven so that you have the opportunity to admire them in salads, pastas and perhaps sauces. Store them in a little bit of olive oil, covered, in the fridge.

Yes: you can make granola in a toaster oven.

I put most things in the toaster oven: Walnuts at 325 F for 3 minutes for breakfast, salmon at 400 F for 10 minutes at midnight for the next day’s lunch.. and raw rounds of bread dough, once (it worked — you can bake bread in a toaster oven!).

Why not granola?

There are a lot of granola recipes out there and I am sure that almost every single one of them is delicious. But most of the time I find the ingredient list to be way too long and impractical (brown rice syrup? hemp seeds? oat bran?), so as part of today’s kitchen experiment I gathered together four of my favorite foods in the world and threw them ceremoniously.. into the toaster oven.

Yummy, easy granola

Oats (rolled, quick or a mix)
Honey
Peanut butter
Olive oil

I’m not sure about quantities, but start off with large handful of oats. I’m guessing around half a cup.

Mix in a small, separate microwave-safe bowl: Peanut butter (~ 2 tablespoons), Honey (1-2 tablespoons.. I don’t like sweet granola though so it’s probably safer to go with 2 for a more ‘normal’ sugar level), and a pinch of salt for good measure. Microwave 20-30 seconds, until the peanut butter has melted into the honey and the whole thing is gooey and delicious. You could spread this on toast and call it a day, but if not, stir in slightly less than a tablespoon of olive oil. This is your wet mix.

Now (as you can probably guess) spoon the wet mix over the oats and stir to combine. I used my fingers because that’s by far the best way, but you could go with a spoon.

Toasteroven the mixture, spread out onto foil or parchment, at 250 F for 15-20 minutes, shuffling the mixture every 5 minutes or so. Enjoy!

You could easily substitute the oats for other flaked grains (barley, rye, etc), the honey for agave or maple syrup, the PB for any other nut butter and the olive oil for canola/sunflower/melted butter. After cooling the granola I added in some chopped almonds and raisins, but it’s really up to you to jazz up your own, exactly how you like it.

Yesterday I bought a punnet of blueberries for a dollar. Upon inspection they seemed mould-free, but still, you cannot buy blueberries for a dollar without being at least a little bit skeptical. So they were put to use immediately.

Lemon, because it makes everything better! Except for knife cuts on your hand!

These are very light, soft and moist with a good crunch. I couldn’t be bothered with the glaze (or rather, couldn’t be bothered to wash extra things) and so left it out entirely, upping the sugar just a teeny bit. It was still half as sweet as anything you’d find in, say, Starbucks. Which is perfect.

Lemon Blueberry Scones
from bakingbites with minor improvisations

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into 6-8 chunks and add to flour mixture, tossing to coat. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until mixture is sandy and butter is well distributed, with no pieces larger than a big pea.

Add in milk, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir until dough comes together. If dough is too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour to the dough.

Either keeping the dough in your mixing bowl, or turning it out onto a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 1 minute. Flatten dough and add blueberries. Knead gently for 30-60 seconds to distribute them. Divide dough into two balls and press each into a disc about 3/4-inch thick. Use a knife to divide each disc into quarters and place scones on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 17-22 minutes, until scones are golden brown.

*Note: I rubbed the lemon zest together with the sugar separately. I suppose this allows the shards of sugar to cut into the zest and increase surface area or something, but I did it because it looks pretty (lemon sand!) and makes your fingers smell incredible.

**Note: I skipped the kneading entirely because I’m paranoid about overworking the dough. Especially because I had just kneaded bread dough (with slapping on the counter and all). You won’t get the pretty flaky layers but you’ll be assured of lightness.

 

Ciabatta
by Craig Ponsford

Biga:
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons rye flour
3/4 cups water

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, stir, and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. Mix the flours in the bowl of a stand mixer. Measure 1/2 teaspoon of the yeasted water into the flour mixture (throw the rest away—this is only to be able to measure 1/384 teaspoon of yeast). Then add the 3/4 cup water, chilled in the summer, warm in the winter. This dough will be very firm and resistant to kneading, but persevere! Add an extra tablespoon or two of water only if absolutely necessary. Place into an oiled container, cover and ferment overnight (18–24 hours) at room temperature. (Don’t be alarmed if it does nothing for at least ten hours. This is as it should be. It will eventually triple in volume and then flatten out, appearing to have the texture of lumpy oatmeal.)

Dough:
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
fermented biga

Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle or dough hook. Mix on low speed until a rough dough is formed. Increase speed to medium and continue to work the dough until it is fairly smooth, about 5 minutes. (This is a very soft dough—add extra water if it is too firm.)

Place the dough into an oiled container large enough for the dough to double in bulk. Cover and ferment for 20 minutes. Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured bench, carefully stretch or press the dough out to double its size, and do a gentle turn by the folding method. Rest for another 20 minutes and repeat. You will do a turn at 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes, and then let the dough finish proofing for another 70-100 minutes (a total proofing time, with turns, of 2 1/2 to 3 hours). You will be surprised at how much the dough firms up during this process!

Heavily flour a couche or tea towels (I used one flour sack towel for both loaves). Flour the top of the dough and the work surface and turn the dough out. With a metal scraper, cut the dough approximately in half. Gently shape and stretch into rectangles, then loosely fold into thirds like a letter. Place ciabatte seam-side down on the couche or towels, sprinkle the tops with more flour and loosely cover. Let them proof until they are very soft and well-expanded, and barely spring back when gently pressed, about 45 minutes.

After shaping the dough, arrange a rack on the second-to-top shelf in the oven and place a baking stone on it (unglazed ceramic tiles work great, too!). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When ciabatte are ready to bake, place a piece of parchment paper on a peel. Carefully flip the loaves onto the peel, seam side up, and stretch them very gently to make them rectangular. Dimple the dough all over with your fingertips, pressing all the way down to the paper (don’t worry—the bread will recover in the oven!). Slide the loaves on the paper onto the baking stone. Bake them until very dark brown, 35-40 minutes, rotating halfway through the bake time. Let cool on a rack.

Soup
by Common Sense

It feels a bit silly to give a recipe for soup because as long as you get a few basic things in there it’s going to be wonderful. But here’s how I’ve come to make soup after trying lots of different recipes:

AROMATICS:
Couple of cloves of garlic
An onion
A stick of celery
A medium carrot
Olive oil
Dried herbs (Oregano!)

SQUASH:
A nice, big butternut squash
Olive oil

LIQUID:
Stock – about a litre is right (veggie or chicken, bought or made)
Fresh herbs (Sage, thyme, anything)

MISCELLANEOUS THINGS:
Salt, pepper
Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, sugar

Before anything, roast the squash (cut up and brushed with oil) in a 400F pre-heated oven until it’s tender. Once it’s cool, scrape out flesh and set aside.

Heat a large pan on medium and sautee aromatics in olive oil. Add squash and liquid and simmer around 30 minutes. Puree everything and season to taste — a little sour cream/yogurt/cream to serve is nice.

My mum would call this an Alette, not a Galette. Right, mum?

Just an FYI if you are a student of literature at one of my old schools: apparently, this is not alliteration but assonance. A marker once scrawled this in red all across my essay. I don’t really know why vowels cannot alliterate.