Pistou

A wanning soup made with vegetables and spaghetti, Pistou (pee-stoo) is given its distinctive flavour by the addition of garlic and basil, pounded together. Serve with crisp bread.

12 pints water

1 teaspoon salt

1 lb. French beans, trimmed, washed and chopped

4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed

14 oz. canned peeled tomatoes, drained

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 oz. spaghetti garlic cloves

1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

Fill a large saucepan with the water and add the salt. Place the saucepan over high heat and bring the water to the boil.

Add the beans, potatoes, tomatoes and pepper. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover the pan and cook the vegetables for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are tender.

Uncover the pan and add the spaghetti. Continue to cook for a further 10 to 12 minutes, or until the spaghetti is ‘al dentc’ or just tender.

Meanwhile, place the garlic and basil in a mortar. Pound them together with a pestle until they are well mixed. Add the oil and 2 tablespoons of the soup and continue pounding until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

When the spaghetti is cooked, stir the garlic and basil mixture into the soup.

Remove the pan from the heat. Ladle the soup into individual warmed soup bowls and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Serve at once.

Pita (pee-tah) is a delicious flat bread zohich resembles a rather doughy flat pancake in appearance. Pita is made all over the Middle East, Turkey and Greece and is usually cut in half and filled with either Falafel or roast lamb and salad.

The secret of making Pita is to heat the baking trays at the same time as the oven is being heated, so that the dough is baked on a very hot tray. This causes the bread to puff up immediately and creates a hollozo flat bread. Pita may be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week or for several months in a home freezer. Before eating Pita, you should heat it in a hot oven for

5 minutes or place it under a moderately hot grill for

5 minutes.

12 BREADS

J oz. fresh yeast

2 tablespoons plus

1 teaspoon sugar

1 pint plus

1 tablespoon lukewarm water

1½ lb. strong white flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mash in

1 teaspoon of sugar with a kitchen fork. Add

1 tablespoon of water and cream the water and yeast together to form a smooth paste. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for

15 to

20 minutes, or until the yeast has risen and is puffed up and frothy.

Sift the flour, the remaining sugar and the salt into a warmed, large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast and the remaining lukewarm water. Using your hands or a spatula, gradually draw the flour into the liquid. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a floured board or marble slab and knead for about 10 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.

With a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth. Set the bowl in a warm, draught-free place and leave it for U- hours, or until the dough has risen and almost doubled in bulk.

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Turn the dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead it for

4 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into

12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls on a large baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth and return to a warm place for

10 minutes.

Place three baking sheets in the oven. Preheat the oven to very hot 450CF (Gas Mark 8, 230°C).

On a floured surface, roll the balls of dough out into circles, approximately 5-inches in diameter.

Remove the hot baking sheets from the oven. Place 2 circles of dough on each sheet. Return the baking sheets to the oven.

Bake the dough circles for 8 to 10 minutes or until the bread is puffed up and golden brown.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Transfer the bread to a towel spread over your working surface to cool and flatten. Bake the remaining dough in the same way.

Serve the pitas slightly warm.

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