Savory Baking from the Mediterranean: Focaccias, Flatbreads, Rusks, Tarts, and Other Breadsby Anissa Helou
The Mediterranean is full of varied and diverse cuisines, but the one thing they all share is a basic reliance on bread. From Italian focaccia and French brioche to Lebanese tabouneh (sourdough pita) and Egyptian fiteer (flatbread), bread is the single most important staple in Mediterranean diets, and serves as the foundation for countless other savory dishes. In
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The Mediterranean is full of varied and diverse cuisines, but the one thing they all share is a basic reliance on bread. From Italian focaccia and French brioche to Lebanese tabouneh (sourdough pita) and Egyptian fiteer (flatbread), bread is the single most important staple in Mediterranean diets, and serves as the foundation for countless other savory dishes. In Savory Baking from the Mediterranean, Anissa Helou presents a collection of classic and favorite recipes that will provide home cooks with a broad overview of Mediterranean savory baking, from countless variations on flatbreads like pita, focaccia, and lavash, to raised breads such as French Bacon Bread, Greek Spinach and Olive Bread, and Italian Nut Bread. In addition, she offers recipes for a wide variety of pies, tarts, and savory pastries, such as calzones, empanadas, pizzas, and spanakopitta. Savory Baking from the Mediterranean is illustrated through out with 100 artful black and while photographs of landscapes, communities, and breads.
In Helou's (Mediterranean Street Food) latest, breads that are often overlooked get a star turn: pitas that enfold spicy meats, pillowy focaccia that serves as a platter for rich tomato sauce and flatbreads used to scoop up hummus. Helou draws on cultures from around the region to offer everything from Piquitos (rich Spanish breadsticks) to Sicilian eggplant bread rolls, a lamb-filled Cretan Easter Pie to Moroccan Triangles with Minced Meat, with the similarities between ingredients and preparations demonstrating how much the cultures share despite national divisions. Along with entries as familiar and simple as the aptly named Regular Italian Bread and classic Neapolitan Pizza, Helou delves into less charted territory with recipes like the dazzling sweet Greek Holy Bread and the flavorful Lebanese Strained Yogurt Triangles. Unfortunately for a book about such a colorful region, the accompanying photos of bakers and breads are all in black and white, but home cooks who just want the goods will appreciate the straightforward, easy-to-follow steps and the often detailed remarks about ingredients, history and preparation that preface many of the recipes. Helou has created a paean to the foundation of Mediterranean food. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In Helou's (Mediterranean Street Food) latest, she explores savory baking all around the Mediterranean, from flatbreads, pizza, and focaccia to yeast breads to breadsticks and rusks. She provides more than 125 recipes, among them Tunisian Spicy Breads, Turkish Pilaf Pie, and Pissaladière à la Tomate (French "Pizza"). Helou writes well, and the headnotes provide both context and culinary advice; her recipe instructions are thorough but unintimidating even for novice bakers. For all baking collections.
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Savory Baking from the Mediterranean
Focaccias, Flatbreads, Rusks, Tarts, and Other Breads
Greek Cheese Triangles
These little cheese pies or pasties are popular in much of Greece, so much so that they are widely available in big frozen packages. Freshly made ones are better, of course, and are not much trouble to prepare.
2 cups crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces)
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1⁄8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
Fine kosher salt or sea salt, if needed
2 medium eggs, beaten
6 11 by 18-inch sheets phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Combine the feta, parsley, nutmeg, and pepper in a large bowl. Add salt to taste, if needed; there may be enough salt in the feta already. Stir in the eggs.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the long half of a phyllo sheet with melted butter. Fold the plain half over the buttered one. Place 2½ to 3 tablespoons filling near one end of the folded sheet. Fold the end of the pastry over the filling to make a triangle shape. Brush the top of the remaining, unfolded pastry with butter and continue folding along the sheet, keeping to the triangle shape, until the sheet is completely folded and the filling is completely enclosed in the pastry. Trim any loose ends with a sharp knife. Brush the triangle on all sides with butter and place, loose side down, on a nonstick baking sheet, or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ora silicone pastry mat. Make the remaining triangles in the same way.
3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the triangles are crisp and golden. Serve hot or warm.
Large Italian Crescents
A calzone is basically a covered pizza. Most of the time, calzones are made as small or medium individual crescents. But calzones can also be made large, for sharing, as in this recipe. I rather like the generous size of the large calzones; and it is far quicker to make just two rather than four, six, or more. Here I recommend making the calzones with Italian bread dough, but you can also use the pizza dough on page 42.
½ cup diced salami (about 3 ounces)
¾ cup fresh ricotta, mashed with a fork
½ cup diced fresh mozzarella (about 3 ounces)
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1⁄2 ounce)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe dough for Regular Italian Bread, page 119, through step 4
1 medium egg
Instructions:1. Combine the salami, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Set aside. 2. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured work surface to a large circle about ¼ inch thick. Spread half the filling on one half of each circle to about 1 inch from the edge. Fold the uncovered half of the dough over the filling. Pinch with fingers to seal and flute the edges. 3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Carefully transfer the calzones to a nonstick baking sheet, or to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone pastry mat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. 4. Uncover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp and golden all over. Serve immediately. Savory Baking from the Mediterranean
Focaccias, Flatbreads, Rusks, Tarts, and Other Breads. Copyright � by Anissa Helou. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Anissa Helou is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, she knows the Mediterranean as only a well-traveled native can. Lebanese Cuisine, her first book, was nominated for the prestigious Andre Simon Award and was named one of the best cookbooks of 1998 by the Los Angeles Times. Mediterranean Street Food was described by the New York Times as "a marvelous book." It won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2002 as the best Mediterranean cuisine book in English. Helou lives in London, where she has her own cooking school, Anissa's School. She appears frequently on British television and radio. She has written many articles for the Weekend Financial Times, and has contributed to several other publications including Gourmet, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. An accomplished photographer and intrepid traveler, Helou is fluent in French and Arabic as well as English.
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I collect cookbooks and I love to bake this particular book is a great addition to my collection. Especially if you are a serious baker.