Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookies: Love Laugh Bake! Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love, Laugh, Bake! By Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.00, Photography by Rob Palmer

 

BISCUITS, BISCOTTI & COOKIES,
EASY LEMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES 
“When I’m craving a simple yet satisfying cookie, I often turn to my mother’s tried and tested recipe for lemon
shortbread. The dough can be made by hand in minutes, but if you are in a hurry, a stand mixer fitted with
a paddle attachment will do the job for you in a matter of seconds. The almond meal adds moistness and
longevity to these cookies, and the potato starch helps create an ineffably light texture.” p193

100 g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting (optional)
150 g unsalted butter, softened
200 g (1¹⁄³ cups) self-raising flour
50 g (½ cup) almond meal
1 tablespoon potato starch
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (or 2 small ones)

Cream the icing sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or use
a wooden spoon (the old-fashioned way is more laborious, but that’s how my
nonna used to make these!).

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to incorporate. Roll the dough into
a log. Wrap it firmly in plastic film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Take the dough log out of the fridge and cut into 1 cm thick rounds. Place
them on the prepared tray, leaving plenty of room for spreading, and bake for
12–15 minutes or until cooked through and lightly golden.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve as
they are or dusted with extra icing sugar.
MAKES 10–12

 

LLB_Cookies_EasyLemonShortbreadCookies

Focaccia with Peaches, Goats Cheese and Prosciutto: Love Bake Laugh! Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love, Laugh, Bake! By Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.00, Photography by Rob Palmer

“I have included a recipe for focaccia in most of my books and television shows, and I suppose this goes to show
how much I adore this type of bread. Traditionally, focaccia originated in the coastal town of Genoa, on Italy’s
west coast, where the artisan bakers created a soft dough flavoured with local extra-virgin olive oil. The end
result is a soft and bouncy bread, dotted with holes moist with oil and flavoured with plenty of sea salt. The
dough also contains another ingredient often used in Italian bread making: barley malt syrup. This dark brown,
thick and sticky sweetener can be found in most good delis, but if it is too hard to come by, use honey instead.
(Please note that if you make this substitution, your focaccia will not be suitable for vegans.)” p.110

 

BASIC FOCACCIA DOUGH
1 tablespoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon barley malt syrup
or honey
250 ml (1 cup) lukewarm water
400 g (2²⁄³ cups) 00 or plain flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
VEGAN (IF NOT USING HONEY)

Mix the yeast, syrup or honey and water in a large bowl and stand for a few
minutes to froth up.
Add the flour and olive oil and knead for 3–4 minutes, then add the salt and
knead vigorously for a further 5 minutes until smooth and elastic (feel free to
use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).
Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea
towel and rest for 20 minutes.
Using floured hands, stretch the dough into a rectangle, then fold the top and
bottom thirds into the centre, like folding a letter. Place the folded dough on an
oiled baking tray, cover with a damp tea towel and prove at room temperature
for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

 

FOCACCIA WITH PEACHES, GOAT’S CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO
There comes a time, towards the end of summer, when peaches are so cheap it is almost a crime not to buy
them in bulk. This is when I find myself preserving them in syrup for winter or making jams. However, the
flavour of this gorgeous fruit is so versatile that it suits savoury dishes as well, and makes a delightful addition
to the universally loved combination of prosciutto and goat’s cheese.  p.116

1 quantity of basic focaccia dough (see above)
salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
3–4 peaches, quartered, stones removed
150 g goat’s cheese, crumbled
150 g prosciutto, finely sliced

Make and rest the dough as instructed.

Using floured hands, stretch out the dough to cover the baking tray and
sprinkle the surface with salt. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Using your fingertips, press down on the dough to create lots of little indents.
Whisk together the olive oil, water and honey, then coat the peach quarters
with the glaze. Tumble the glazed peaches over the focaccia, letting the juices
run into the holes. Sprinkle with some more salt, then cover and rest for a
further 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Bake the focaccia for 15–18 minutes, then scatter over the goat’s cheese.
Bake for a further 5 minutes or until it looks golden and utterly irresistible.
Take the tray out of the oven and top with the prosciutto. Serve hot or warm.
Any leftovers will be delicious cold too, but focaccia is best eaten on the day
it’s made.

SERVES 6–8

LLB_Breads_Foccacia_

Pretzels: Love Laugh Bake! Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love, Laugh, Bake! By Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.00, Photography by Rob Palmer 

 

THE BREAD BASKET
PRETZELS
“If you have travelled around those magnificent lands in the north of Italy, right on the border with Switzerland
and Austria, you may have wondered if all of a sudden you had crossed the frontier! Fair enough too, as
the first language spoken up there is German, and the culinary traditions of the area borrow more from the
neighbouring countries than the rest of Italy. This is where local restaurants offer wonderfully rich cabbage and
pork stews, spaetzle soup, apple strudel and the much-loved pretzel to accompany pints of Weissbier.
The traditional recipe for pretzels is a tricky one. It’s not complicated but in order to achieve the unique chewy
crumb and bronzed caramelised crust you need one crucial ingredient: the very caustic and abrasive lye. It is
true that you only need it at 3% of its strength, but after reading that I would need to protect myself with
thick gloves and safety goggles and (knowing how accident prone I am) I had to come up with an alternative.
Using bicarbonate of soda may make some purists cringe, but I am very happy to say the pretzels taste divine
and my hands and eyes are burn free! ” (p.52)

PRE-FERMENT
375 ml (1½ cups) lukewarm water
2 teaspoons dried yeast
225 g (1½ cups) 00 or plain flour
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup

DOUGH
375 g (2½ cups) 00 or plain flour
40 g unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
salt flakes, poppy seeds or sesame
seeds, to coat

To make the pre-ferment, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl to
form a wet dough. Let it stand for 2 hours or until it looks very bubbly and has
doubled in size.

Add the flour, butter and salt to the risen ferment and knead for 6–8 minutes
or until smooth. Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook if you have one
handy. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and prove at room temperature
for 1½ hours or until more than doubled in size.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Gently scrape the dough out of the
bowl onto a floured surface and form into an oval shape. Cut it evenly into
eight pieces and roll each piece into a long thin rope. Twist the rope around to
form a pretzel shape and gently press the ends into place.
Place the pretzels on the prepared tray, leaving plenty of room for spreading.
Cover with a damp tea towel and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
The pretzels will grow by about one-third during this time.

Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the bicarbonate of soda
and barley malt syrup. Working with a few pretzels at a time, drop them into
the simmering water for 1 minute on each side, then lift them out gently with
a slotted spoon back onto the tray. Sprinkle liberally with salt, poppy seeds or
sesame seeds and bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden. Remove and cool
on a wire rack for 30 minutes before eating.

MAKES 8

 

                  

An Evening of Fine Wine and Floral Fantasy

A night on the town tonight; we attended the opening night showcase of Laurie Bullied’s floral art celebrated with fine wines and vermouth by Bettenay Wines and Margret River Nougat and a grazing table presented by Gourmet Food Merchant of Cowaramup – what a lovely evening.

 

 

Review: Love Laugh Bake! – Silvia Colloca

Love Laugh Bake

Love Laugh Bake!

Silvia Colloca

Pan Macmillan Australia

Plum

ISBN: 9781925481457

RRP $39.99

 

Description:

For passionate home-cook and baker Silvia Colloca there is nothing more satisfying than baking – combining the simplest of ingredients and seeing them transformed into the most delicious creations to share with others.

 

In Love, Laugh, Bake! Silvia shares more than 120 of her must-have recipes: breads, pizzas and focaccias, tarts and pies, cookies, simple cakes and also baking for special occasions. There are recipes for new and experienced bakers alike, from the easiest one-bowl cakes to crusty sourdough loaves and flaky jam-filled cornetti. Learn how to make the perfect pizza base, fluffy focaccia and deliciously rich tarts. Standout sweets include hazelnut brownies, blackberry and pear crostata, and plum and red wine upside-down cake. Silvia is well known for her fresh take on gluten-free baking and in this book she shares more than 50 of her most popular gluten-free and vegan recipes that you will want to bake again and again.

 

This is easy, generous food for every day. Silvia’s baking is simple, classic and is always enriched with her warmth and a unique sense of joy and abundance. Love, Laugh, Bake! will inspire you to discover the delights of baking for yourself, so grab your trusted rolling pin and roll up those sleeves!

 

The Author:

Silvia Colloca is an Italian-born food lover living in Sydney, Australia and has claimed the mantle of Passionate Italian Home Cook in Australia since arriving here in 2009. She share unfussy, delicious, recipes that have been passed down through her family for generations. Her food is traditional, authentic, simple, and embedded in it is the legacy of her mother and grandmother. She has authored three books Silvia’s Cucina, Made In Italy and La Dolce Vita and has hosted and co-produced Made in Italy on SBS and the ABC’s Silvia’s Italian Table. https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781925481457/

 

 

My View:

I first meet Silvia when I was scouring the net for hints and advice on making a sour dough starter and sough dough bread. Luckily I came across Silvia’s website https://silviascucina.net  and I proceeded to finesse my sough dough making skills.  So when I had an opportunity to review a book written by this famous author I leapt at the chance. It has not disappointed.

 

This is a great book for all home bakers.  The recipes are simple, elegant and they work! I particularly like that Silvia has catered to a variety of readers/bakers and their differing lifestyle needs; there are recipes that are vegan, gluten free, dairy free…there are breads, scrolls, chocolate dipped coconut macaroons (and I hesitate to make this statement but I think they are even better than my late mother in laws, but we will keep this between us, mother in laws cooking skills should always be respectedJ ), an amazingly easy and yummy gluten free Orange and Blueberry cake ( sorry no pictures we devoured it before I had an opportunity to photograph but I may make this again soon…I’ll let you know), there are brownies (gluten free), pavlova, biscotti, savoury and sweet tarts…there is something here to delight all bakers.

 

Now I have visitors coming for morning tea tomorrow so I best get baking!

 

 

Flashback Thursday: Review – Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane

Since we Fell

Since we Fell

Denis Lehane

Hachette Australia

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9781408708347

 

Description:

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

 

My View:

 WOW!!!!

 I am so sorry that I am late to this party. This book has been sitting on my TBR forever – through no fault of its own it got passed over, left on the shelf, buried by new releases. I am so sorry. Dennis Lehane is a great writer, I was already aware of his fabulous narrative writing skills from a previous read but this standalone takes the rating up a notch or two, it is outstanding.

 

So if you have this book sitting somewhere amongst your To Be Read pile, sitting on a shelf, languishing in the dark – I implore you, set it free, read it, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

Guest Review: Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers

Liane Moriarty

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781743534922

Description:

The ten-day retreat at boutique health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises healing and transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage and absorb the blissful meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages. They are all on a path to a better way of living. Or at least a better waistline . . .

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate these tired bodies and minds. But to what lengths will she go to achieve her goal?

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them.

Brenda’s Review:

Frances Welty, popular romance writer who’d just felt her first rejection, had thought her career and future were assured at fifty-five years of age. The impulsive booking at Tranquillum House, a health and wellness resort (which was expensive), had her questioning her own decisions on the long and tiring drive from Sydney. Her arrival showed her a beautiful old home built in the 1800s, renovated to within an inch of its life, with a staircase reminiscent of the Titanic (in the film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet; which made Frances smile) – perhaps she might enjoy it after all.

Meeting the other eight guests – Carmel, Tony, Lars, Napolean and his wife Heather and daughter Zoe, Jessica and her husband Ben – felt strange. But even stranger was the fact the course started with five days of silence. Not a word to be spoken; no eye contact – five days! Frances knew that would be difficult. Within that period, there were meditation classes, walking, massage therapy, smoothies and meals, plus free time to swim in the luxurious pool. All to be done in silence.

But each and every guest had a secret – and who were the people in charge of the resort? Were the guests comfortable with all that was happening to them? Some were – some most definitely weren’t…

Nine Perfect Strangers is the latest by Aussie author Liane Moriarty and wow! How different, how intriguing, how bizarre – how fabulous! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and even with it being almost 500 pages, I flew through it. I can see this one being made into a movie – it would be fantastic on the big screen. I have no hesitation in recommending Nine Perfect Strangers highly, and wish to thank Pan Macmillan Australia for my uncorrected proof ARC to read in exchange for my honest review. 4 stars