Sunday, 27 November 2011

Finally cooking again: Roasted Tomato Focaccia and Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Sorry blog for abandoning you! For the past few months I have been interning in London at (check out their great new website that I helped on!). This meant long hours, plus living with family friends (who cooked me delicious meals every night), plus using spare moments to apply for jobs, resulting in little time to cook or blog myself. But now that I am back ensconced in the countryside I can get cooking again and this weekend I got round to do some baking, namely some quick focaccia and the Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook which I’ve been wanting to make for a long time - although my topping is more fruits of the forest cream than raspberry cream. 

While in London I managed to go to some great restaurants (when my intern budget allowed!). Working in Notting Hill I discovered a newly opened deli called Menoo Eclectic Food on Kensington Church St which was Ottolenghi in style but cheaper and with a lovely relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff – their huge cheese stuffed risotto balls are delicious! I did a return visit to Polpo and it was just as good as last time. I also managed to get to Cambio de Tercio on the Brompton Road, as it had got a great review by Matthew Norman in the Telegraph. It was absolutely fantastic – the best Spanish food I’ve tasted, beautifully presented and with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

But back to baking, and this Focaccia is the perfect bread to make when you want a lunch of cold meats, salads and cheeses to go that bit further. Although it is drizzled in olive oil, you can scatter it with lots of delicious roasted vegetables to keep it healthy rather than cheese-laden like a pizza.

Focaccia with Basil, Slow-roasted Tomato and Parmesan.
Makes 12 pieces
  • Firstly, slice 5-10 Large Vine Tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray lined with parchment. Season with sea salt, drizzle with oil and put in the oven at 120˚C for 3-4 hours (or until they look semi-dried).
  • Make the dough by mixing together 250ml Water, 3 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1½  Tsp Sea Salt, 400g White Bread Flour and 2¼ Tsp Dried Yeast. When it has come together in a ball, knead for 5 minutes. You can do all this with a dough hook too.
  • Place in a greased bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour until it has doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 190˚C and lightly grease a 33 x 23cm baking tin.
  • Chop up half the tomatoes. Knead the dough on a floured surface and add the chopped tomatoes, a small handful of chopped Basil and knead again to combine.
  • Now stretch the dough out over the surface of the baking tray – you can be quite rough, the more rustic the better – and finish by sprinkling over more chopped basil and the other tomatoes. Drizzle over more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Place a tray filled with ice cubes at the bottom of the oven and then the prepared dough on the shelf above (this creates a steam). Bake for 25minutes until golden.