by Ian Parmenter
ABC Books, Adelaide, 1996
Cooking on page 32
Ian Parmenter has a consuming passion for cooking and eating. So it’s no surprise that his successful TV series was named Consuming Passions. The show, which first aired in 1992, includes 10 series and 450 episodes. In 1997, Ian won the Festival Grand Priz for best TV food show.
This book is aimed at inexperienced cooks—hence the reference to L-plates (L for learners). Our daughters were in their teens when I bought it.
Thinking back, I don’t suppose we cooked from it much, but I am impressed by the variety and simplicity of the recipes. There’s also great advice on kitchen equipment, cooking techniques, stocking the pantry, and using herbs and spices.
So let’s check out page 32, which makes good use of some herbs.
Yoghurt and herb bread
2 sachets dried yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp plain flour
water at room temperature
1 kg plain flour plus extra flour for kneading
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp natural yoghurt
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary or oregano, finely chopped
Place the yeast, sugar and the one tablespoon of plain flour in a mixing bowl. Add two or three tablespoons of water (room temperature). Mix well and allow to stand in warm place for 15 minutes or so.
Stir in the one kilogram of plain flour, oil, salt and about 700ml water. Mix all ingredients together. When mixed, cover with damp tea towels and leave for at least 45 minutes in warm room, or up to 1 hour in a cold room. The dough mixture should double in size.
On a floured cutting board or work surface, knead the dough for at least 15 minutes. Add a little flour when required to keep the dough from sticking to the fingers.
Cut the dough into three portions and knead each piece separately. To add more flavour, stir in one tablespoon of pitted chopped olives and one tablespoon of chopped walnuts before kneading.
Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a pizza shape. Then place them on oiled pizza tins, or roasting pans. Spread a little yoghurt on to each piece of dough. Press little indentations into the dough with the fingertips for the yoghurt to settle in.
Sprinkle with salt, rosemary and oregano.
Leave to sit for 10 minutes in a warm place.
Bake in a very hot oven (220°C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden on top.
How it played out
A couple of things surprised me about this learner recipe.
I thought the 700ml of water should be listed in the ingredients, instead of just in the instructions. Also thought there should be mention made of the fact that the dough mixture, before kneading, is extremely sticky. It was so sticky that it was very hard to stir together. In the end, I tipped the dough out of the bowl and did a mini knead (pictured) just to incorporate all the ingredients. I’m an experience baker but a novice might have no idea what to do.
Oh, and a comment about measurements. Australian tablespoons are typically 20ml, rather than the 15ml common in most other parts of the world. Also, a sachet of yeast is about 7 grams, so two sachets equals 15 grams or 3 teaspoons.
My garden has an abundance of fresh herbs, so I added two tablespoons of a rosemary, oregano and thyme combo, and could easily have added more. Oh, and I used a strong and tangy Greek yoghurt.
I took this, along with two dips (baba ganoush and an olive tapenade), to Friday afternoon drinks at work. A complete success. Now that they know about this recipe, I bet I’ll be pressured into making it often.
It is delicious and very quick and easy to make. Hope you try it.
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