The evening before Kiwi Big Brother and his lovely wife flew out across the ocean, we grabbed the chance and fired up Big Bill the clay oven and ‘played pizzas’ again. It was a very warm and balmy night, making it all the more pleasant to be enjoying pizzas and hanging out in the back garden with Big Bill.
Big Brother got really good at shoving pizzas in and out of Big Bill, and down the mouth. Somehow that did not seem to have any impact on how much he talked 😉
Diego the puss in boots watched the pizzas with very hopeful gaze, despite the vegetarian selection for the night.
After we sufficiently stuffed ourselves with pizzas, Leila and I made three batches of tabouna (Tunisian flat bread) because the one batch we made last time disappeared way too quickly!
Then in went two loaves of 20% wholemeal sourdough bread. They came out a bit flat because the hydration level was at a high 85%. They came out nice with an open crumb, but I think I’d stick to 80% or less in hydration in the future just because they are way easier to handle, and results in larger loaves too.
Along with the light wholemeal loaves were also two caramelised capsicum, onion and cheese loaves, also made with sourdough. They are made just the same way as the caramelised onion and cheese bread.
After baking the bread, I stuffed Big Bill with 3 pots of goodies for slow cooking. They stayed in Big Bill for the whole night, basking in the gentle heat (temperature went from ~150C to 80C over night). There was a pot of pork belly stewed with garlic shoots, coriander and soy sauce.
I also put on a pot of sliced capsicums, onions, and lentils. After I took the concoction out on the second morning, I blended a part of it and added it back to thicken into this lovely soup, which we ate with the wonderful tabouna for lunch with family before Big Brother’s flight.
Lastly, there was also a pot of beef bolar (shoulder) cut cooked with carrots, onions, garlics, tons of parsley, borlotti beans, and red wine. This was inspired by the beef cheek recipe in Stefano Manfredi’s Seasonal Italian Favourites. The stew came out beautifully, right in time for the miserable weather which descended that following day. Again, I thickened the stew in the end by adding extra pureed carrots for extra depth. The first time we served it, we took Stefano’s suggestion of serving on a bed of polenta. However I personally preferred serving it with mashed potatoes, and did that for the subsequent meals. There is one thing to remember when putting a stew with beans or lentils into a slow oven (<130C) for slow cooking – always par-cook the beans by bringing the beans and water to a simmer on the stove stop first, then let it sit for 20-45mins (depends on the size of beans – 20mins for lentils, 45mins for chickpeas etc). Then discard the water and add the beans to the rest of the stew. If somehow the beans aren’t tender already by the time the meat is, just pop the stew on the stove and actually bring to boil and let it simmer for 15-20mins until the beans become tender.