Category Archives: baking

I guess I’m on a ricotta roll…

Crostata with coffee and sambuca-flavored ricotta
Crostata with ricotta, coffee, and Sambuca

A couple of days after I vowed to brave the heat of the kitchen and bake like nobody’s business, the day temps dropped just enough to make life bearable and rainclouds arrived to drench our sun-parched surroundings. I used the broiler element, made pizza, bread, baked a mussel and rice casserole, and lastly, Casatella Terracinese, another crostata from one of my favorite blogs on Italian cuisine – Polenta e Baccala. This one mentions the use of sheep’s milk ricotta but I used the regular type, undrained, and flavored it with the coffee, cocoa powder, cinnamon and Sambuca called for in the recipe. I used my own sweet pie dough pastry as I prefer less sugar.

If you have time, do take a look and read more about this dessert from southern Italy. It is so good that it does not last long in our house.

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If I’m going to ‘bake’ in this heat, may as well go all the way

Sheep milk ricotta and cherry jam tart
Sheep’s milk ricotta and cherry jam tart

Weather alert! We go through this every summer when the digits edge past 30°C, the humidity is up to 70%, and all I can think of is getting through the day without being too much of a grump for dealing with the heat. We don’t have air-con (it’s just not done in your typical Italian home and it is expensive!), and while an inflatable pool brings some relief, the wasps feel the same way and come around for a drink while we’re in it.

What to do then? Well, for awhile I was content to do the minimum of household work, garden stuff, and catching up on tv series, but that gets old real fast for what is morning coffee without homebaked goods to go with it? For the rest of the month I intend to try recipes, be it sweet or savory, from a long list of bookmarks. The only criteria is that it must include turning on the oven.

First off: a delicious sheep’s milk and cherry jam crostata by Polenta e Baccala. A crostata is equivalent to a tart, and if you don’t have sheep’s milk ricotta, no worries, regular ricotta works fine too. Recipe/post in english.

It’s a bread, it’s a bag, it’s kaak!

Kaak

I know the title sounds cheeky but it’s better than WTF that crossed my mind when I learned about this purse-shaped loaf studded with sesame seeds. A bread that you can tote around and eat it too? How cool is that! It all started when I was looking into the round-shaped kaak (middle eastern version of Greek pita), and from there I discovered that kaak/ka’ak is Arabic for cake and comes in both sweet and savory variations. Apparently the bread bag version is a common sight around the streets of Beirut as vendors suspend them from food stalls or trucks.

The best thing to come out of this is that I am now hooked on getting the hang of baking in a Weber. It’s a steep learning curve, but bread done in a kettle grill has its own particular flavor and gets me spending more fun time outdoors before summer comes to an end.

Kaak bread
Round ka’ak pocket breads baked in the kettle