Holiday + breadcrumbs + pumpkin and feta pie
Weekend dawn has surrendered to lazy rain and on our kitchen counter French toast soaks as the remainder of the house sleeps.
A week ago we spent some time near the beach well away from the routine of our city life. Time spent on beaches and flying kites in the salted seabreeze rejuvenates the soul. During sunset walks we stepped over washed up jellyfish whilst gazing at distant whales breaching on the horizon. But most important of all we relaxed.
Back in Brisbane, I have landed some temp work with a design agency which is keeping my days full and my brain busy. It is nice to be challenged and I think the work will reward both my confidence and skills–which is exactly what I need right now.
Ever since I started baking I have always breadcrumbed my leftover bread, and the tempo of its use in our cooking matches the rate at which we collect stale bread–a perfect equilibrium! When grabbing a few slices of desem bread from the freezer for breakfast I noticed that my collection of stale bread ends had snowballed and contained all sorts of treasures like Tartine's Sesame Bread, Danish Rye, Desem, Miche and some Pain au Levain's with bold baked crusts.
These combined flavours in the breadcrumbs adds an exciting strength of flavour to the ready-made flavours available in caramel crusts. A caraway and cumin loaf is an exquisite addition if available!
I have found the best time to approach making breadcrumbs is at the close of a weekend bread bake. After switching off the oven, the collection of stale bread is defrosted, cut into small cubes, spread on a baking tray and left on the cooling baking stone for the night. The following morning I check the brittleness of the bread cubes–there should be no softness at all–then in batches reduce them to fine crumbs in a food processor. Ear plugs are a luxury for this!
The flour milled with my Komo mill is used for more than just bread. I have been trialling shortcrust pastries made with freshly milled wheat sifted down to a dark high extraction flour with delicious results. This recipe is one of our favourite meals and has been made all the better by replacing the standard frozen shortcrust pastry the original recipe calls for. I have never seen children so eager to eat pumpkin as they are when presented with a slice of this pie.
Pumpkin and Feta Pie
200g high extraction four chilled (preferably freshly milled)
100g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
pinch of sea salt
2-3 tablespoons chilled water
Half a butternut pumpkin (squash) peeled and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes
4 garlic cloves unpeeled
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red onions halved and sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
100g (3 1/2oz) crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- Put the flour, butter and pinch of salt in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Add the chilled water and process until the mixture comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Spread the pumpkin and garlic on a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes or until tender. Transfer the pumpkin to a large bowl and the garlic to a plate. Leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the onion is a dark golden colour. Add to the pumpkin and allow to cool completely.
- Add the feta and rosemary to the pumpkin mix and squeeze the garlic out the skins into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Roll out the pastry to a 35cm (14 inch) circle and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Arrange the pumpkin mixture over the top leaving a 4cm (1 1/2 inch) border. Fold over the pastry edges, pleating as you fold.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden.
The rain appears to have really set in and the garden is just soaking it up. So while we are housebound for the time being it seems there is no excuse for not getting stuck into some neglected housework ... before I get into trouble ... eeek!
Happy baking (and milling) everybody.