24 September 2014

 An off-centre essay, dedicated to all passionate artisan bread bakers, and especially to Zoë François
and William Wood two inspirational pastry chefs I’ve met and who made me fall in love with bread.

I have felt bread dough in my hands for many years and loaf after loaf I couldn’t stop thinking how much the art of bread is like the art of love.
Bread baking is a wealth of passion and patience.  There are moments when waiting is vital; there are moments when every rushing second counts.
Lovemaking feeds on passion and succeeds on patience and experience.  There are times when waiting gets you further; there are times when you can't catch fast enough the flash...

A good bread baker knows that the secret of success is not a secret recipe.  The secret is  honesty.  Use only honest ingredients and learn to feel the bread - it is alive.  It feeds on love.  It reacts to weather change.  It is moody.  It is snappy and it can spoil when you haven’t been paying attention.
Bread dough is like a woman that knows what she wants and a good baker is like an attentive lover – he can tell how to satiate and indulge her...

Good bread bakers know that bread shouldn’t be rushed and the slower it raises, the better taste and texture develops.
A caring tender lover is not afraid to take his time, for he knows that he will harvest the rewards of sensual devotion…
With time bread proves and develops its flavour.
With time a relationship ripens and matures.
Just like baking bread, love is like a preheated steamed oven and sooner or later we all get burnt.

And if you still haven’t put your hands into wet and sticky dough and shaped a bread, or never jumped into a deep love, here are the basic ingredients -

Organic Baker’s Flour
Natural Sea Salt
Spring Water
Starter (Mother, Bigga, Poolish) or Yeast

Ilva and Simi have joined me in my bread journey.  Please pay them a visit and break a bread with us.

Thank you for visiting!

© 2014 - sophia terra~ziva all rights reserved


20 September 2014

It's Friday morning, just driving away from the house to join the traffic flow of parents dropping off their kids to school.  I had my girls dressed up and beautiful as bonbons - Apollonia has a performance at school and Amadea is pretty in pink for her school photo.
As we were passing the safety bank, Apollonia looked across the road and exclaimed: "Mamma, our chicken is in front of this house!"
"What our chicken?  What front?  Which house?"...  I was throwing questions at her trying at the same time to keep my eyes on the road.  "Look, our chicken is eating grass in front of this house" and she showed the house we were passing by.
Well, well, well!
I'll be damned!
It is really our chicken!
Really! - in front of the house across the road picking the grass next to the fence...
I didn't count the chickens this morning to check if all 9 were there and look at her - took off for a walk.
Why would our chicken cross the road?!...
Couldn't get in deep thinking, the road was busy and we were running late.
As I dropped my oldest daughter to school and about to take the little one to preschool, I really became anxious and curious about THAT chicken.  I made an U-turn and went strait to the house where we saw it last.
There it was, picking something in the grass with not a worry in the world and the busy traffic passing it by.  I parked the car in the driveway and jumped with a big spring in my steps calling the "lost soul" to mamma.  She didn't want to have any of me unless I was coming in peace with hands full of food.  Oh - food!  Say so.  I took the little packet of crisp bread from my younger daughter's lunch box.
"Here, chick-chick-chick-CHICKIES!"
"Here, piew-piew-piew-PIEW!", I started to give her crumbs crisp bread to allure her close enough to catch her.
Darn chicken!  Runs around like a dart and I am becoming more and more dangerous for the passing by morning traffic.  I could feel with the corner of my eye how the cars are slowing and hear few hoots and whoops while running with hands thrown in the air to catch this little bugger.  "Go Indiana Jones", shouted somebody through their car window.  While some other smarty pants was cheering:  "Go Team Chicken!"
Hm!  Sweat, blushing and annoyance were spreading across my face like a rainbow.  "People are having fun", I was mumbling.  "What's next?  An YouTube accidental sensation?"  You want an Indiana Jones, I'll give you an Indiana Jones!
I took my jumper and start flapping it in front the chicken like a matador till I throw it over it and blanketed it completely.  Gotcha!  Phew what a sweat and running!  Now what?  I had no idea how to drive the chicken home since we were on the opposite side of a very busy road.  I scratched my head for few seconds and then just pushed the chicken in my big grocery bag full of beetroot, carrots, leek and parsnip.  She just looked around and started picking the carrot leaves, feeling very much at home amongst the veggies.

As I got home, I saw 9 young hens running towards me and greeting me with loud chick-chick-chick.  Wait a second - 9?  So who is in my grocery bag?  I've stolen a chicken?  All this circus to catch somebody else's chicken?

So what am I - the Indiana Jones from Kingwood or The Chicken Thief?!...

Always count your chickens.  And stop, look, listen and think before crossing a road.

© 2014 - sophia terra~ziva all rights reserved


9 September 2014

If you've ever spent your summer holiday in Bulgarian seaside, you inevitably have had the opportunity to hear about, smell and even try this delicious snack prepared typically on char grill.  It is a fast meal for children that parents have it ready before the barbeque party gets seriously busy with chatting, drinks and food.
It is a recycled food at its best and finest - about a handful of leftover mince for the kebapche skinless sausage for the barbecue later, old stale bread, herbs and spices, egg and that's about it!  As mamma use to say "with a handful of leftover mince and loaf of old bread we can feed an army"...

It is meant to be a children's snack to keep them happy and full while the grown ups are enjoying slowly their drink, mezze, yarn and slow cooking of the fresh summer meal on char barbie.  The truth is that every one loves them and there is always enough for young and old.

It was one of the first things I prepared for my mother-in-law long time ago, when we invited her to our new place.  However, she wouldn't wait for the meal to be ready.  She wanted to eat right then!  I made "Princess" toasts within minutes and slapped them on the barbecue...  But the trouble was far from over.  Being an Italiana, she wouldn't eat nothing that she is not familiar with or at least doesn't sound Italian.  So I was sweating a rain of sweat and worries over the hot barbecue plate and scratching my brain what to tell her.  I brought her on a plate the piping hot "Princess" toasts and told her: "Here you are, mum, this is bruschetta "Principessa".  It is Italian", I reassured her.  "Really?  Never heard of it!", she cut me and I had to think very fast on my feet.  "Oh yeah, it is from South of La Bulgara, far from Venezia."  She ate it, kissed her fingers and said "Brava!" and added "never been to La Bulgara, but we were very poor then to travel" and that's how the bruschetta "Principessa" was born.

Call it whatever you choose, but don't miss the chance to try it next time you get the barbeque going.  They are really delicious and clever meal for settling hungry little tummies or enjoy them with a glass of wine in a good company of dear friends.

Stale bread slices
1/2 kilo veal and pork mince (or meat of your choice)
1 egg
Green onions finely sliced
Continental parsley finely chopped
Savory (optional but highly recommended)
Ground white pepper
Cracked pink peppercorns

Mix the ingredients and let them stand to marinate for an hour or two if possible .  Spread a thin layer (about 5mm) on the bread slices pressing the mince mixture.  Place the slices mince down on well preheated barbeque grill grate and let it cook on low heat for about a minute or two till charred lines are formed and the meat doesn't appear raw.  Turn on the other side of the bread and slightly toast the bread till crisp and crusty.  Serve with yogurt drink if offered to children or with a nice glass of red wine if for grown ups.

Thank you for visiting!

© 2014 - sophia terra~ziva all rights reserved


9 September 2014

"You know sweetheart", said my husband walking through the door, "I am one very lucky man"!
"I know", I was too busy in the kitchen to get in deep conversation - "You've got me!"
"No, no", he insisted it wasn't me.  "I found a bunch of four-leaf clover, and five-leaf too!"  And he gave me a bouquet of four and five leafed clovers!
Well, that's what I call a special bouquet from the heart!  I think we are both lucky...

Be lucky and stay happy!

© 2014 - sophia terra~ziva all rights reserved

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