Homemade Bread - Ciabatta Bread Recipe

Homemade ciabatta bread is delicious. Light textured, crunchy-crusted and gobbled up before it has chance to go stale.

But it's tricky to get right. There are a few potential stumbling blocks in the process.

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Don't let that put you off, though. I'm here to help.

Homemade Bread - Ciabatta Bread Recipe

This ciabatta recipe gives you all the insight you need to make your own, homemade ciabatta and get it right, first time.

So, what is ciabatta?

Ciabatta (Italian for 'slipper') is a square, flattish bread, designed to be loaded with toppings. Usually made with white flour, it has an open texture, with large air-bubbles.

The dough is extra-fermented, for a slightly sour flavour and is often coated in cornmeal (although in this recipe I substitute semolina because it's easier to obtain) to make the crust extra crunchy.

It's tricky but I'll show you how.

It's tricky to make because of the extra fermentation needed to achieve the authentic ciabatta flavour. Also, it is awkward to work with the wet dough necessary to achieve the open texture. At the same time, you want the crust to be crunchy without letting the thin bread become too dry. A lot to think about, but perfectly easy to achieve, when you know how.

Here goes...

Ciabatta Recipe

You will need:
250g plain flour
3g dried instant yeast
A large pinch salt
Approximately 180ml hand-hot water to mix
Semolina to coat (optional)

Mix your dough well in advance. I suggest doing this the night before you want to eat the bread.

1. Combine the flour and instant yeast in a large bowl.

2. Add the water, little by little, until you have made a slack dough.

3. Leave the dough to ferment overnight. The longer you ferment the dough, the sourer the bread will taste. If you prefer a milder flavour, shorten this stage to an hour.

4. When you return to the dough, mix in the salt. I usually do this by hand as it's easier to squeeze and knead the dough, rather than using a spoon.

5. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until your dough has a smooth, stretchy texture. It should still be quite wet, which makes it tricky to handle. It will stick to the work surface and to your hands. Try not to add too much extra flour as you need the wetness in order to achieve the characteristic open-crumb texture.

6. Divide your dough into four pieces. Stretch each piece to a long, thin strip and fold it into three. The folding helps to incorporate extra air into the dough, for that all-important texture. Try to not squash the air out of the dough at this stage. Repeat the stretch and fold process if necessary, to create an oblong bread about 3cm thick.

7. Gently coat the bread in semolina and place it on a greased baking tray.

8. Leave it to rise again for about half an hour before baking at 200oC for 20 minutes.

Now, to achieve that crunchy crust

There is one further stage to this process.

Use a (clean) plant mister to lightly spray the bread with water before you put it in the oven. Repeat this spraying process a couple of times in the first few minutes of baking.

Your bread is cooked when it can be lifted off the tray easily and sounds hollow when you knock on its bottom.

Serve immediately - ciabatta doesn't keep well, which is another good reason to bake it yourself.

Homemade Bread - Ciabatta Bread Recipe

There are more bread recipes on my site, including my guide to Fresh Bread In 20 Minutes which is the quickest way I know to bake homemade bread for lunch.

Vegetable Recipes Your Kids Will Beg For

Vegetables are a great way to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to your family. However, how many times have you told your children to eat their vegetables? Probably a lot.

For some reason, children have an aversion to vegetables. They will cry and sit for hours before you finally give in and send them from the table.

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Vegetables do not always have to be the enemy. The key is to find a creative way to prepare them and your family will become vegetable lovers rather than vegetable haters!

Vegetable Recipes Your Kids Will Beg For

Do you remember when you were a child and your mother dropped a soggy green lump of cabbage on your plate. Did you want to eat it? Almost certainly not.

There are various ways to encourage your children to eat their vegetables. You might even need to trick them! Broccoli is an example of a vegetable, which is high in vitamin and mineral content, and there are plenty of ways to prepare it. Here are some tips:

Try it raw. Leave a plate of raw broccoli in bite-size pieces in the refrigerator for your children as a snack. Offer some salad dressing so they can dip it and this is often a hit. Leave the tips of the broccoli on the plate and encourage your child to eat them. You can even make a creative game of this. Grilled vegetable recipes are not the only way to serve healthy vegetables.

If all else fails, bribery often works. Tell your child that they will get a special treat if they finish their vegetables. Make sure you have a treat for them afterwards.

Use cheese. Cheese and broccoli go very well together. If you pour a cheese sauce over the broccoli, you are adding texture and changing the flavor. You might find your children eat the broccoli in cheese before whatever else you have served with it.

Lasagna is delicious with broccoli added. Smothering it in cheese can add to the flavor and disguise the broccoli. Children will be too busy enjoying the cheesy flavor to bother picking out the bits of broccoli. Vegetable pizza is another way of sneaking in broccoli. Nearly all kids love pizza so a healthy vegetable pizza recipe will produce something they associate with fun rather than veggies.

Chop it up - if all else fails, pre cook the broccoli and let it cool a little and put it in a food processor. Chop it up until it is not recognizable and add it to whatever dish you are cooking. Your children will not even know it is there.

Shakes - this might sound weird but it works. Make a milkshake with milk, ice cream, and chocolate syrup. Add some broccoli to the shake (make sure the kids aren't watching!) and blend it some more. As long as you use a chunky type of ice cream, your kids will not realize the broccoli is there and hopefully they will drink the shake too fast to notice any stray green bits!

Vegetables are high in essential nutrients, especially for growing kids, so it is great that there are so many ways to get them to eat their veggies!

Vegetable Recipes Your Kids Will Beg For

Believe vegetable pizza recipe have to be difficult then you need to have some fresh off the barbecue grill! While your at it why not have some of our barbecue grilled vegetable recipes.

You can often find me in the kitchen cooking it is a true love of mine and I love experimenting with new and wonderful taste. I like to share these with visitors to my wife's websites on cooking. Why not try one of their recipes like Baked Dijon Salmon just one of the recipes we like sharing with our four young sons.

Christmas Dinner Traditions and Dessert Ideas

Christmas is my family's favorite time of year. We have many Christmas traditions that we've developed over the years.  One is that each year one of us daughters (mother and sister-in-laws) is responsible for a part of the dinner.  My favorite part to make is the Christmas desserts.

Our family is large, there are five sisters, four brothers and both parents still living. We also have a lot of wives, husbands, nieces and nephews mixed in. When we get together there are twenty seven people.  Each year one of us cooks for a different segment. We put the dinner segments in a hat. After dinner, after all the dishes are done and we're relaxing we choose what our dishes will be for the next year. The menu is broken up into appetizers, before and after dinner drinks (for the adults), meat, stuffing/potatoes (starch), vegetables, rolls, desserts. Two people are responsible for meat, two for stuffing/potatoes and two for vegetables. One for appetizers, one for before and after dinner drinks and one for desserts. And, now that there are ten of us every year one lucky girl gets a get out of jail free card, which means she doesn't have to cook the next year!

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As I said earlier Christmas dessert is my favorite. I start cooking about a week in advance. I know everybody's favorites, and like to add a few new things.  I like to make lots of different types of desserts for the family. One of my favorites is Black Bottom Cup Cakes. Another is Greek Almond Cookies. These are super simple. Another favorite is definitely a Red Velvet Cake with Butter Cream Icing. It's my Grandmother's recipe and the family loves it. The Red Velvet Cake is the one thing we're guaranteed to have every year, regardless of who is assigned dessert duty.

Christmas Dinner Traditions and Dessert Ideas

I also make a Cinnamon Crumb Cake, a Chocolate Truffle with Raspberry Sauce and a Louisiana Roasted Pecan Pie.  All of these things make quite an impressive looking Christmas dessert buffet and everyone is able to find something that they really like.

Over the years we girls have shared recipes between us.  We all love cooking, us sisters were all raised to enjoy being in the kitchen.  When a new item is introduced to the table there is also a menu card for each sister for that new item.  When I added Greek Almond Cookies to the dessert table last year everyone was amazed how easy the recipe is. I got it from an actual Greek friend, Valerie.  The Cinnamon Crumb Cake is also easy to make and goes really well with a cup of coffee after dinner.

One year when my sister-in-law picked the Christmas dessert portion of our meal I gave her a lot of advice on recipes as she really isn't comfortable baking. I went to her home two days before Christmas and helped her make the traditional Red Velvet Cake. She did it really well and is now a pro!

Perhaps if you have a large family you can do something like our family does. We all enjoy our Christmas cooking tradition.

Christmas Dinner Traditions and Dessert Ideas

Catherine Olivia has some tasty and easy Christmas dessert ideas and recipes
at http://www.greenbeansnmore.com

The Best Pizza Sauce

A great pizza dough does not necessarily lead to the best pizza. The quality and freshness of your pizza toppings is important, as well as the taste of your pizza sauce. A great tasting pizza is one that balances these elements.

The pizza sauce is important in pizza making, because it is that which gives the whole dish its unifying flavor. It ties everything together, so to speak. The best pizza sauce is simply a sauce that compliments your pizza toppings and your pizza crust to create a delicious, unifying taste.

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Making a great pizza sauce takes a little bit of time and practice, but it is a skill that anyone can learn with a little patience and practice. Start with a simple, basic pizza sauce recipe and increase the number of ingredients and complexity as you develop your skills, and learn what works and what doesn't.

The Best Pizza Sauce

It All Begins with Tomatoes

The most common type of pizza sauce is a tomato based sauce. Using fresh, ripe, locally grown tomatoes is important for a great tasting sauce. Summer is the best time of year to purchase tomatoes, but often you can find locally Now for the best tomato-based sauce, use fresh tomatoes that you have grown yourself. You should avoid supermarket-bought, fresh tomatoes because these are probably ripened through an artificial chemical process. The best type of tomatoes for pizza sauce making is the plum variety.

To prepare your tomatoes, you should remove the seeds and cut these into small chunks. Use a blender to reduce fresh tomato into paste. Add some water and grind well to ensure uniform consistency and texture. However there's nothing wrong with a chunky tomato sauce if you prefer this type of sauce; as long as the pieces are more or less similar in size, then cooking problems should not arise.

Once you have your tomato base, evaluate its thickness. The best tomato base is a thick one. If you have added too much water during the grinding stage, check now if the sauce is not too thin. Thin pizza sauce will run off and will merely make the dough soggy if so. If you have made an excessively thin tomato base, you should let the lot simmer on low heat to let some of the water to evaporate. Beware that heating your tomato base to get rid of excess water will affect the flavor of your tomato base.

If you don't have your own tomato patch, then just use the canned stuff. It is best to use slightly thick tomato sauce - it is thick, has enough moisture level yet hasn't undergone as much heating (if at all) as tomato concentrate products. On the other hand, you can buy canned tomatoes that haven't been converted to sauce or paste yet. You can use your blender to prepare your tomato base, in this case, adding as much water as you need to achieve desired glueyness.

Then Come the Pizza Sauce Flavorings and Spices

After preparing your tomato base, you should prepare a large, non-stick flat pan for cooking the sauce. To start with, heat some olive oil. Use the extra virgin variety if you want a stronger olive taste; this is especially applicable if you are using olives on your pizza toppings as the olive oil in the sauce will reinforce the flavor of one of the toppings. After heating the oil, you should melt some butter in it.

After heating oil and melting butter, you should start sauteing the usual ingredients: onions and garlic. Mince the onions and garlic if you want the best possible flavor. You can even transform your garlic into garlic paste then increase the amount of garlic used if you want a distinctly garlicky taste. When the garlic is mildly brown and the onion transparent, pour in the tomato based that you have made according to the above instructions. Mix everything but don't take too long. After a few seconds of adding and stirring the tomato, onion and garlic mixture, you should add salt, pepper (crushed pepper works best for a hotter pizza sauce recipe) and when nearly cooked, all the other spices.

The first ingredient that comes to mind is salt. Another is sugar. The first one is definitely a requirement while the second one is optional; people who love a sweet-tasting tomato pizza sauce can add sugar.

Italian style pizza naturally has basil and oregano. If you are using the fresh leaves, chop them into small pieces. If you are using dried herbs, crush them first using your fingers or a mortar and pestle assembly to release trapped flavors. Add the herbs and spices during the last few minutes of simmering.

The pizza spices used varies. If you want tasty pizza sauce, use fennel seeds and laurel leaves. If you want an even stronger flavor, use lots of parsley or you can use the laurel bark; however, be sure to remove the laurel bark and the laurel leaves after cooking the pizza. If you want a spicy pizza sauce, however, add some cayenne pepper or some paprika to your pizza sauce mixture.

Other pizza sauce ingredients are cheese, beef stock (or the instant variety if you have no time to make beef stock), and mushrooms. Basalmic vinegar and alcoholic beverages, moreover, are great for imparting a slightly piquant taste to your sauce. The same thing can be achieved with pure fruit juice such as lemon juice.

Do not forget that you have the option of adding as many ingredients and spices to your pizza sauce. It's all a matter of taste, anyway. And here's one final tip: if you like a dish so much - say creamy carbonara pasta - try recreating the sauce and using it on your pizza. If it doesn't work, then use it the way it has always been used (e.g. prepare some pasta to use with your carbonara sauce).

The Best Pizza Sauce

Sean Lannin


How to Make a Seafood Pizza

Seafood pizza is really flavorful and if you are a fan of delicious homemade pizza and you also love fish and seafood, why not combine both to make a seafood pizza recipe? There are lots of types of fish and seafood you can use to make your dream pizza, including shrimp, anchovies, tuna, mussels, squid, and crab.

You might like to stick to one or two seafood toppings or you might want to mix and match. If you want to use only one kind of seafood, perhaps shrimp, or tuna, you can use other pizza toppings to complement the taste, such as cheese, pineapple, bell peppers, fresh herbs, and garlic.

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Seafood does not have a long cooking time and the easiest way to make a seafood pizza is to cook the fish first, then arrange it on the pizza and warm the pizza through. If you are using a readymade pizza crust, you will only need to bake the pizza until the toppings are hot anyway. Finely chopped vegetables will cook quickly and if you are using canned fish like crab or tuna, it only needs to warm through.

How to Make a Seafood Pizza

Recipe for Easy Seafood Pizza

This delicious recipe combines shrimp, crab, and tuna with olives, pineapple, mushrooms and more for a mouthwatering pizza recipe. This is such an easy pizza to make and the fact that you are using a readymade pizza crust and ingredients, which do not have to be cooked before you bake the pizza means that it should only take about twenty minutes to make from start to finish.

Feel free to modify the ingredients. You might like to add onion, fresh herbs, tomatoes or red bell pepper to this pizza to make it more fragrant, colorful, and delicious. The garlic oil makes a wonderful sauce.

Sometimes tomato pizza sauces can be very strong but it is nice to keep this one simple so the delicious fish and seafood taste shines through. This delicious pizza serves four to six people.

What you will need:

  • 12 inch readymade pizza crust
  • 4 oz sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 6 sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup flaked, canned crab meat
  • 1/2 cup flaked, canned tuna
  • 1/4 cup canned shrimp
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 minced cloves garlic

How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Stir together the garlic and olive oil. If you have a food processor, you can puree the peeled garlic cloves and oil in it instead. Spread the garlic oil evenly over the pizza crust.

Arrange the olives, pineapple, mushrooms, crab, tuna, shrimp, and green bell pepper on the pizza and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake on a pizza stone or greased pizza pan for about twelve minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

How to Make a Seafood Pizza

If you are looking for gourmet pizza recipe ideas, what about making a tasty seafood pizza recipe? Fish and seafood is fantastic on pizza. If you fancy something sweet instead, a sugar cookie fruit pizza recipe might appeal to you.

GreatPizzaRecipes.com You Make the Pizza, We Help You Make It Great!