Monday, 3 October 2011
Would you look at that: Small Perfect Clouds is pacing up and down on the terrace. Nothing particularly interesting, you might say, but look closer. It is pensive, restless, but not agitated. It is calm, yet somehow disturbed. Something is the matter. It treads up and down, down and up; light-footed and light-minded. Small Perfect Cloud is at a loss. Something is missing, or something is feeling different. Somehow, Small Perfect Cloud is not itself today. And that is because it has had a dream. As any felinologist will tell you: a dreaming cat is a worried cat (especially since most cats dream of taking over the world but find it increasingly hard to actually do it due to the ever-expanding, all-encompassing Mouse Conspiracy that rules the underground). But the true reason why they're so worried is that cats' dreams are not like other, normal dreams. As opposed to most other beings, cats dream truths, not fictions and fantasies. That's the reason why they are the wisest animals in the world: after all, they sleep up to 16 hours a day; and 16 hours a day of truth will tell you quite a bit about the world. You may even discover why frogs don't fly. Or why lollipops never smell like fireworks.
But Small Perfect Cloud is not concerned with such petty, insignificant matters. Small Perfect Cloud's dream was far more profound. It namely dreamt that it was walking on something it had never seen before, and it was softer than anything it had ever touched before. Also, it smelled better than anything it had ever smelled before, and would it have been able to taste it (a cat's tastebuds are sadly really quite underdeveloped), I'm sure that it would have tasted better than -you've guessed it- anything it had ever tasted before.
'What's the matter with you today?' asked Divine Cherry. A worried look crossed her face, and then it brightened. 'Never mind. I have a surprise for you. Not long ago, Celestial Dragon gave me a recipe he found on one of his travels in the Land of Red Dirt and Dripping Olives. I'm going to make it for you. You'll feel much better, you'll see.' Of course, those were not Divine Cherry's actual words; but I think we're pretty close. Be that as it may, this is what Divine Cherry did:
First, she boiled the potatoes in unsalted water, leaving the skin on them. She then drained the potatoes, peeled them and mashed them in a large bowl with a fork. However, she didn't throw the water from the potatoes away, but kept 250g of it in which she melted a tbsp of coarse sea salt (she's adamant on this: do not try to be creative at this point, do follow the instructions). When this water has then cooled down and has become lukewarm, melt, in another glass with 60g of water in it, a tsp of yeast, as well as a tsp of sugar and a large tbsp of flour (taken from the total amount needed). Divine Cherry now had a drink and left it all to rest for 15mins. You should do the same. (Ed. A white Martini with double olive and lemon zest is particularly well-suited.)
After this wee refreshment, Divine Cherry turned her attention to the bowl in which she had previously smashed the potatoes and, following Celestial Dragon's recipe, poured the rest of the flour in it. In the middle of the bowl she then also poured the glass of water with the yeast. Then she started mixing it all, adding little by little the salted water as well. Divine Cherry added 2 tbsp of olive oil (extra virgin, naturally) at the end of the mixing process only. You should do the same. The next 20mins were spent on working and kneading the dough by hand (Robin the All-Rounder pointed out that 10mins in the electric kneader (i.e. itself) would be sufficient too). The consistency of the dough will remain rather soft, and that's the way it should be. Divine Cherry then transferred the dough into another bowl and covered it with cling film, leaving it to raise until it has almost tripled its size and volume. You may also leave it to raise in the fridge for an entire night, it's really six and half a dozen. In the meantime, take the tomatoes, cut them in slices, salt them and garnish them with a bit of olive oil and a tbsp of water. When the dough has risen enough, pour it gently on a with olive oil covered baking tray. Divine Cherry now awoke the little girl in her and, child-like, began poking holes in the dough at regular intervals. She then garnished it with cut cherry tomatoes as well as the rest of the previously prepared tomatoes (including, obviously, the oil from the bowl). You may find it necessary to add a bit of oil. In case you do, do it. Eventually, add a few grains of coarse sea salt (remember the first admonition) and a bit or rosemary if you like it. Divine Cherry now left it all to rest for another hour. Lastly, after the last waiting time was up, Divine Cherry put the prepared and garnished dough in a preheated oven at 230°C for exactly 24.5671253 minutes. Because she can.
Small Perfect Cloud's truth-dream had (quite naturally) come true.
Again: -Adapted from a Celestial Dragon's family recipe
-300g of strong flour
-200g of plain four
-250g of lukewarm water
-60g of lukewarm water for the yeast
-25g of yeast
-2tsbp of olive oil (extra virgin)
-3 small potatoes or 2 medium ones
-2tsp of coarse sea salt
-1tsp of sugar
-a handful of cherry tomatoes
Boil the potatoes (with the skin) in a bit of unsalted water. Drain them, peel them and mash them with a fork in a large bowl. Don't throw the water away, instead take from it 250g in which you'll melt a tbsp of coarse salt. When the water has cooled down a bit, take another glass out of it (60g of water) and melt in it the yeast, a tsp of sugar and a large spoon of flour (taken from the whole amount). Leave all to rest for 15mins.
Take the bowl with the mashed potatoes and add the flour to it. Also pour the glass with the yeast in the centre of it and mix well, gradually adding the salted water too. Add the 2tbsp of olive oil only at the end of the mixing. Work and knead the dough for 20mins by hand (or 10mins in the electric kneader). The consistency should remain soft. Put the dough in another bowl and cover it with cling film. Let it raise until it has tripled in size (it takes 2 hours usually a room temperature). You may also leave it to prove overnight in the fridge. Now take the tomatoes and cut them in slices, salt them and garnish them with a bit of olive oil and a tsp of water. Let it rest. When the dough has risen, pour it on baking tray which has been previously greased with olive oil. Poke it with you fingers so as to create small holes all over it (see picture). Garnish it with the cherry tomatoes and also pour the tomatoes' condiment on the dough. You may need to add a bit more oil on it. Stray a few grains of sea salt on it and add the rosemary to taste. Let it all rest for one more hour. Eventually, put it in a preheated oven at 230°C for approx. 25mins. Eat cold.
FOCACCIA PUGLIESE- Adattata da una ricetta di famiglia di Celestial Dragon
-300g farina forte
-250g acqua tiepida
-60g acqua tiepida per il lievito
-25g lievito di birra
-2 cucchiai d'olio evo
-3 patate piccole o 2 medie
-2 cucchiaini di sale grosso
-1 cucchiaino di zucchero
-una manciata di pomodorini
Lessare le patate con la buccia in un po' d'acqua non salata. Scolare le patate, sbucciarle e schiacciarle con una forchetta dentro ad una ciotola capiente. Non buttare l'acqua delle patate ma prendere da questa 250 g in cui sciogliere un cucchiaio di sale grosso. Quando l'acqua delle patate è diventata tiepida, prenderne un altro bicchiere (60 g di acqua) e scioglierci il lievito con un cucchiaino di zucchero e un cucchiaio abbondante di farina (presa dal totale). Lasciare il bicchiere a riposo per un quarto d'ora.
Nella ciotola dove si trovano le patate schiacciate aggiungere la farina, versare al centro il bicchiere con il lievito e l'acqua e mescolare aggiungendo l'acqua salata gradualmente. Aggiungere alla fine i 2 cucchiai d'olio evo. Impastare 20 minuti a mano (o 10 minuti in planetaria con il gancio). La consistenza rimane piuttosto soffice. Mettere l'impasto in una ciotola e coprire con la pellicola. Lasciare lievitare fino a triplicare il volume iniziale, ci vorranno almeno 2 ore. Si puo' anche lasciare lievitare in frigo per una notte.
Preparare i pomodori: tagliarli a fettine, salarli e condirli con un giro d'olio e un cucchiaio d'acqua. Lasciarli riposare.
Quando l'impasto è lievitato versarlo su una teglia unta abbondantemente con olio. Con le dita formare delle buchette sulla superficie della focaccia, appoggiare qualche fettina di pomodoro e versare anche tutto il condimento dei pomodori, emulsionato, sulla superficie della focaccia, aggiungere un po' d'olio se necessario. Spargere qualche granello di sale grosso e il rosmarino se piace. Lasciar riposare un'altra ora. Infornare in forno caldo al massimo ( 230°C) per 25 minuti circa.
And Spread the Mess