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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Deep Fired Goat's Cheese with Lavender Honey + Win a KENWOOD Deep fryer!!


Photo from the restaurant Alta, NY
by: the girl who ate everything
Lavender and goat cheese are a classic combination that can never go wrong. However - because Lavender is a highly aromatic, very perfumy as well as a pungent flavour - there is an art as to how much lavender! The idea is to accentuate and never to over power the goats' cheese. 

This classic recipe of deep fried Goat's Cheese with Lavender Honey, is seriously good! No I mean, really really good! You are going to love it. The Lavender honey sauce is just Divine, and it pairs very well with this cheese as well as other types of cheese, so you can use it as an accompanying sauce for your cheeseboard. This recipe is very simple to prepare, but the results are amazing.

You can serve these cheese balls at a cocktail party, as an 'Amuse Bouche' for dinner guests, as a snack, on a cheese platter, or even as a salad!! Just lay a bed of assorted leaves on a plate, top with deep fried goat's cheese, and use the lavender honey sauce as an emulsifier for your Salad dressing; as simple as that!! 


For Making the 
Breaded Goat's Cheese Balls
You Need

240g Goat's cheese, brought to room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 cup flour
2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt & black pepper to taste
4 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, roughly ground

For Lavender Honey Sauce
You Need

4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp Dried lavender flowers
1/2 cup hot water
30g butter, chopped

A day ahead Start by steeping the lavender flowers in 1/2 cup hot water. Cover the cup tightly with nylon wrap and leave to steep and infuse over night.

On serving day using a melon baller, scoop out the flesh of the goat's cheese. You want the size to be 'bite-size'. Roll the cheese into a ball, and set over a lined tray with baking paper. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the honey sauce: using a sieve, drain the infused lavender water, reserving the liquid and discard the lavender flowers. Place honey in a sauce pan, add 3 tbsp of lavender water to it, stir to mix. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gently heat continuously mixing, for about 7 minutes - without bringing to a boil. Once heated through, and well incorporated, add butter pieces, one at a time mixing well after each addition - until butter is no longer visible. And repeat, till you have used all the butter. Remove from heat, transfer to serving jug and set aside.

In a flat dish, mix together the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt & black pepper, as well as pumpkin seeds until all are combined. Place the flour in another flat plate, and prepare egg wash: whisk together 1 large egg with 1 tbsp water (room temperature) until well incorporated. Place the three items on work surface ready to dip and coat the cheese balls.

Once the cheese balls have rested for 20 minutes, remove from fridge and roll in the flour to cover, dust off any excess, then dip in egg wash, then roll in prepared bread crumbs mixture. Repeat the process twice for each cheese ball, to ensure a thick crust has formed to protect the goat's cheese as its frying. Place on a lined tray with baking paper. Finish all cheese balls this way.

Fry at 170C setting for 2 minutes or until deep golden colour is achieved. Do not keep them for a long time in the oil, or the cheese will burst and melt! Drain the fried cheese balls on paper towels.

Place the fried cheese balls on serving platter, and drizzle with Lavender Honey Sauce. Keep the honey jug close by for top off if needed.

Serve warm.

I don't know about you, but am making some for me tomorrow!!! Yumm!!!






As you may have heard, I have a giveaway for one lucky winner!! :)
So if you are feeling lucky or want to try your luck at winning a KENWOOD DEEP FRYER from Dima's Facebook Fan Page just follow these instructions, and you might be the lucky winner :)





  1. You must be a fan of the facebook page: Gastronomy by Dima Sharif
  2. You must browse 'DimaSharif' Blog and vote for your favourite recipe. You can vote for any recipe posted before august 2011.
  3. Comment to the thread on facebook fan page naming the recipe you have chosen as your favourite.
That's All :))
Winner will be announced on Oct 10th :)) 
Good luck!



About the deep fryer, Using the Kenwood Deep fryer makes frying a whole lot easier and less messy! It is very convenient, easy to use and takes away the mess that results from deep frying in a pan!! No more oil spatter all over, no more guessing of oil temperature and definitely no more frying smell at your home!! How Fab is that??
The fryer has adjustable heat levels to properly cook different foods, ensuring spot-on results every time. This is really going to become your best loved gadget... So make sure to get in on the action and follow the instructions for a chance to WIN this fabulous fryer :)


I hope you enjoyed today's post. This recipe is one of my all time favourites, you will love it too once you try it. Do let me know what you think as you know I love to hear from you :))

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Pad Thai

Serves 2  | Super Easy



All cuisines are great, and the more cuisines you know, the more creative you can become in the kitchen. The thing about your palate is, it needs practice! The more varieties and flavours you taste the more mature and knowing your palate becomes. When it comes to being creative, and developing the ability to come up with new recipes and flavours, your palate is your best friend. It is therefore worthwhile to approach food with an open mind, and a willingness to try all things new. Getting to know a variety of cuisines will also develop your techniques, and skills as different cuisines use different cooking methods. For those used to cooking traditional  local food, Asian cuisine provides a new playground. Asian cuisine is so diverse and rich. From produce, to flavours, to cooking methods: it is a foodie's practical haven! Besides the technical part of Asian cooking, the cuisine is delicious, especially when done right. By that I mean, the quality of home-cooking, rather than that of the chain's - commercial quality - which tends to be full on MSG and other ingredients that mask the tastes of the better quality offerings of this cuisine.
So go ahead, and experiment with new cuisines, try out new techniques, dedicate some time to learn something new. And what is more rewarding than food? Trust me, you will love it.

Pad Thai - one of my earliest introduction dishes to Thai food - is not only enjoyed throughout Thailand, but is also celebrated throughout the world. It is one of Thai foods best loved offerings. I love digging into these classic sour, sweet and spicy noodles. After a long day working, tucking into a Pad Thai in front the TV is the ultimate unwinding exercise. When cooked at home, Pad Thai is so much better than that taken out. It is customary to use dried shrimps in Pad Thai, but I prefer my Pad Thai with fresh shrimps instead. But feel free to use the dried shrimps, or even chicken if that is your preference. You can also keep it all vegetarian!

Tamarind water, or Tamarind Concentrate

Often in Asian cooking you will have to use Tamarind water or Tamarind concentrate. If you do not have access to pre-prepared Tamarind water/concentrate, or if like me, you prefer to cook from scratch, then here is how it's made:


Tamarind Water
2 tbsp Tamarind stacked with seeds or 1 tbsp paste without seeds
1/4 cup water
Place all in a bowl, and soak for 10 minutes. Squeeze the Tamarind with your hands repeatedly to incorporate, removing the seeds if any. Once the mixture has incorporated, strain reserving the liquid and discarding the fiber.

Shrimp Pad Thai
You Need
A packet of dried rice noodles
250g fresh shrimps, shelled and deveined
1 tbsp Tamarind water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp cooking oil
2 red shallots*, finely chopped
1 bunch Chinese chives, finely chopped
a handful of bean sprouts
1 egg
50g firm Tofu, cut into thin cubes, fried till golden
1 tsp white radish, shredded
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp raw peanuts, toasted and roughly crushed
lime wedges
3 small spring onions, diagonally chopped.

*Red Shallots are similar to red onions - smaller and narrower. The difference is in the flavour, as they are sweeter than red onions, and not as sharp in the onion flavour. If you don't have red shallots, substitute with red onion.


If using ready to cook noodles, follow packet instructions. If using dried rice noodles, soak in water for 2 hours until soft, when ready to use drain.

Prepare the sauce: Simmer the sugar, tamarind water, and fish sauce on medium heat, until the sugar dissolves.

In a skillet, sprinkle a little bit of oil and place on range top. When the oil is hot stir fry the shrimps till just about changing in colour (1/2 coooked). remove from heat and place in bowl, to slow down the cooking process. Set aside.


In a wok and over medium heat, heat the oil, and fry the chopped shallots just until beginning to colour. Crack in the egg and stir to break the egg apart. Add the fried tofu and white radish. Toss to coat.


Add the drained noodles and stir fry, until the noodles are slightly coloured.

Add the prepared sauce and sprinkle with the red chili powder, toss to mix all. Simmer gently for about a minute. If wok content appears to be dry, add a little extra oil.


Add the half cooked shrimps, chopped chives and the bean sprouts, toss to mix, and cook stirring for 1 minute.

Pile the Pad Thai on serving plate, sprinkle with crushed peanuts, chopped spring onions and chives. Serve with a wedge of lime.

Devour!!





Hope you liked today's post and that you too, like me, love Pad Thai. If you do, I know you will try this recipe. If you have never tried Pad Thai before, then this is one Thai noodles recipe that you are going to love, so go for it and give it a shot, you will be happy you did.

Don't forget to leave me a comment, you know I love to hear from you :)


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Monday, 19 September 2011

Kitchen Buzz & a Quick How to Make Fondant


What is a kitchen without a propper Pantry?
& What is Dima's Kitchen without an extra pantry dedicated to
Flavours, Home-made Essences & Mixes?
This is my Flavours Bible!!
Boy, this week is buzzing! But today, was the cherry on top! I had the pleasure to lunch with the crew of Al Tayer Group, the very people behind many fashion stores in Dubai, auto dealerships, and of course the famous and best loved Bloomingdales, Harvey Nicols, Crate & Barrel, More Cafe, Almaz by Momo, Armani Cafe Dubai... among others. They have very exciting upcoming live demonstrations and events that are open for all to enjoy, which will liven up the scene in the city, so stay tuned and visit their stores to find out more! I know I will :)
To top an already full day with the cherry, I just been told that Dima's Kitchen blog will be the Featured Blog on Foodista! Yay :) hence the badge. Will tell you more once the feature is up, so stay tuned.

As you might already know, I have started yet another set of courses, beginning with "All About Cakes & Cupcakes". I am so excited about this course specifically, because joining me is another Dubai-based food blogger Kari Heron from Chef & Steward who is being trained in cakes & cupcakes and will be the judge through her own progress.

Kari with the freshly baked cakes
Also joining me is a Fashion Design student, discovering a passion for food and baking, let's see if we can convert the Fashionista into a baker! Or maybe mix both into a fashionable foodie; kind of like Isaac Mizrahi's Cake collection  (fall 2011), where food and fashion intermingled into one fashionable deliciousness.

Isaac Mizrahi's Cake collection (fall 2011)
There is also one passionate lady, taking this course in order to make dream come true and open up her Cakes Bakery back in Nigeria! She is actually going back to Nigeria, after the course and starting her own bakery :) How sweet is that?

Since I had been caught up with the course, some home works, kids going back to school, parents introduction sessions, reading assignments ...etc, I haven't had enough time to blog! I have been cooking up a storm though, and have been doing a lot of baking, of course! I have been taking lots of pictures as well, and will be posting the recipes ASAP :)

Keeping on the sweet note where we started, it has been requested that I post a Fondant Recipe -Referring to the paste made to cover cakes- for those who do not have access to ready-made fondant, or prefer home-made fondant to commercial types, so I have included the recipe here for you to try. But before I go to the recipe, let me tell you a thing or two about my Flavour Inspirations Pantry: it seems to be fascinating the girls in the cakes course, so I promised them to say a little some about it lol

Home-made Vanilla Essence
Food is flavour, and for that reason I have a designated flavours pantry - staple items that I use regularly to add flavour to my food. Just as I have a pantry, I find that it is only fair to create one for flavours. Because I prefer organic, all natural flavourings, to the commercial chemically produced ingredients, I regularly prepare my own flavourings, essences, spice mixes, herb mixes, bouquet Garni, Flavoured Oils, Flavoured Sugars, Home-made Marshmallows, Caramels and Nougats. This pantry also includes dried edible roses and rose petals, dried lavender flowers, a variety of dried mushrooms, truffles, dried roughly grated coconuts, candied bananas....etc. It is basically my favourite things, and things that I use to add flavour to foods! The pantry regularly evolves and gets influenced by what I am currently crazy about, and the season offerings...etc. I am telling you a Flavours Pantry is life changing. It excites you about creating new food, about trying and being more experimental in the kitchen. If you don't have one, I totally recommend you create one! Don't go crazy though, remember nothing is going to fall off the face of earth and disappear, everything will still be there tomorrow! Get the flavours you are feeling crazy about, and some new flavours to experiment with. Then gradually build on that.

Hope you enjoyed Dima's Kitchen buzz, and that you are inspired to create a flavours pantry in your kitchen. Here is how you can make Fondant, to add to that pantry :)

Fondant & Sugar Paste
Fondant here, is the white pliable paste that is used to cover cakes in prep for decoration. Fondant covered cakes used to be more popular for weddings, but are now popular and demanded for all sorts of occasions. It creates a velvety finish that looks very elegant, and allows for various decorations in order to carry out various themes. Fondant is firm, and can easily be rolled out on a board dusted with equal amounts of icing sugar & cornstarch to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. Once rolled it can then be used to cover cakes, or can be used to cut out shapes (using templates or cookie cutters) which are then used in the decoration of the cake. Fondant can tinted to any shade you like, best using gel-based food colours. It can also be made more pliable, and hard upon setting by adding Gum Tragacanth to it, Kind of a recreation of Gum Paste. This is usually used for modelling, basic flower creations, and decoration structures that need to be hard and hold shape.


Actual Fondant recipe carried out by bakers, is mainly heating sugar syrup to soft ball stage, then turning this sugar over on a marble work surface and working this sugar with metal scrapers (hard spatulas) till it forms a white paste that is smooth and pliable.
Please be cautious when working with heated sugar, to prevent risk of severe burning! 
An easier adaptation of Fondant, suitable for domestic production is Sugar Paste. It is hardly any different to fondant in texture and function, but easier and less hazardous to prepare at home. Sugar paste is treated exactly like fondant, can be tinted, is pliable and used to cover cakes as well as in cutouts...etc
So if you do not own a candy thermometer, or if you are worried about working hot sugar, don't fret! Just make Sugar paste. No one will know the difference! Of course there are many variations and recipes, this one is a simple recipe that you can easily make, it requires a bit of work but works every time...

To make Sugar Paste
You Need
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp Powdered Gelatine
1 1/2 tbsp Liquid Glucose
2 tsp Glycerin
455g Icing sugar, sifted
2 sachets vanilla powder (optional) for flavour

You will need a stainless steel or non stick saucepan (non Teflon coated).
Pour the water into saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin on top and dissolve over low heat. Once dissolved add the glucose and glycerin and stir to combine. Immediately remove from heat.

Gradually add the sifted icing sugar, mixing continuously with a wooden spoon. If you do not continuously mix, lumps will form. Continue to gradually add the icing sugar, until you can't stir the mixture anymore. 

Dust a clean work surface with the remaining icing sugar and flip the sugar paste dough over it. Incorporate the icing sugar - on the work surface - into the sugar paste by kneading it in using your fingers not your palms. Continue kneading, till the paste is smooth.

Your sugar paste is now ready for use. When not in use, sugar paste must be tightly wrapped with cling film to avoid drying out and becoming hard!

You are now ready to transform cakes into artsy masterpieces :) Stay tuned for the post on covering cakes with Fondant, coming soon!!

Meanwhile, go ahead, make some sugar paste, and bake the cake, as we are getting ready to cover it with fondant and carry out a simple SPIDER-MAN THEME!!! Yes, coming shortly.



Hope you enjoyed reading this post and found some inspiration in it. If you too have a dream to start a career in food, then click this link for how to make that dream come true. Remember if you want to learn more about Baking, then join my specialised baking course: All About Cakes & Cupcakes.
Would love nothing more than hearing from you, so leave me a comment before you go <3 b="b">


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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Fresh Strawbery Cupcakes With Hints of Rosemary

Serves 12  |  Easy


Another Recipe for Kari's Fresh Mystery Basket Challenge :), They are supposed to be 7 recipes, but hey, this happens to be one real busy week for me!!

I went grocery shopping yesterday and found baskets of fresh strawberries stacked in the fridge! Although strawberries are not in season at the moment, the baskets smelled of fresh strawberries! The aroma was mouthwatering! I could not resist but buy them. Funny how herbs always find me!! I love herbs, and it seems that every time I am at the supermarket, I end up buying a pot of fresh herbs. Again this time it was Rosemary. I like the combination of Rosemary with strawberries, and thought the two will make a refreshing cupcake. This cupcake is light, fresh and aromatic; therefore I did not want to top it with an overpowering frosting. Instead I decided to stay on the fresh light side and go for a simple rosemary whipped cream topping. The outcome was delightful. Believe me, it is the perfect afternoon snack!


I like to cook with my children, and they love to help when I am cooking. This recipe is very child friendly, and is an excellent activity to do with your kids. All you need is a bowl, a wire whisker and the ingredients! I have made the cupcakes out of a one-bowl batter, to make it simple, and to have my daughter help. I have added a little pink food colouring to the batter, because she wanted to try adding colour to the batter, but you can omit the colour.


Here is what You Need
for the sponge
275g self-raising flour
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
4 tbsp fresh strawberry juice

For the Rosemary Whipped Cream
2 cups fresh whipping cream
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely grated white chocolate

For Garnish
6 fresh strawberries, halved lengthwise
fresh rosemary


Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake holes with cups, set aside.
In a large bowl, place all sponge ingredients except strawberries and rosemary. Whisk till well blended and smooth. Add rosemary and strawberries, fold to incorporate.

Fill the cups 3/4 full with sponge batter. Bake for 25 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool completely on wire racks.


For Whipped Cream Topping
Place a metal bowl and the wire whisk of an electric mixer in the fridge for 30 minutes. In the chilled bowl, place the whipping cream, icing sugar, grated white chocolate and finely chopped rosemary. Whip on medium-high speed to soft peaks. Do not over whip or the cream will split.
Place ready whipping cream in a piping bag with a large star tip, and pipe a swirl over each cooled cupcake. Top each cupcake with a fanned half strawberry and a spring of fresh rosemary.
Serve cold. Store, covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.




Hope you liked this post, would love to hear from you so leave me a comment before you leave ;)
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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Mediterranean Focaccia with Rolled Halloumi Cheese For Kari's Fresh Mystery Basket Challenge!

Serves 8  | Medium to hard




I have been invited by Kari Heron from 'Chef and Steward' to join her "Fresh Mystery Basket" challenge in which I am supposed to use fresh produce in making a spontaneous, new and challenging eats. How exciting is that?! In an attempt to be spontaneous, I have gone to shop without a plan in mind, and started with fresh herbs. I love Fresh Thyme, and thought this is one item that I will definitely be using. Since I was at it, I also grabbed a pot of fresh rosemary, thinking to go French with a Provencal mix of herbs. But strolling down the isles of the supermarket, I found some Rolled Fresh Halloumi cheese, which looked delicious, my Provencal thought was rapidly replaced by Mediterranean tones, and with that I decided to by sun-dried tomatoes, which are a favourite of mine as well :) 




I would have very simply bought a baguette and gone home and had those for lunch, but to make it more challenging I thought to make the bread. Bought Strong bread flour and by that time, I had a clear vision of what I was going to make: Mediterranean Flavoured Focaccia with Rolled Fresh Halloumi :) 




One of the rules is to make something new - haven't made before. Although I have made Focaccia many times before, I have never made it with sun-dried tomato and halloumi incorporated into the dough. I was not sure how the dough would react, so I was still in line with the challenge. I got back home, and started working on it :) It turned out Fabulous! We loved it, and could not stop munching. It was great, on its own, dipped in herbed olive oil, or even topped with more Halloumi.... It was truely delicious! Best of all, the whole house smelled of freshly baked bread, and to me that is an added bonus :)


Flavours of the Mediterranean


Before I dive into the recipe, let me tell you more about Focaccia Bread. Focaccia is the Italian relative of the French Fougasse bread, which originates from Genoa. It is essentially a flat bread made with olive oil and traditionally cooked in the Italian Pizza oven (made out of brick and earth). The Focaccia is cooked in this oven right after the fire had been raked out - when it is still too hot to bake other breads without burning the crust. In the South of Italy, Focaccia is eaten as a snack or antipasti, while in the North of Italy, it is more like Pizza. Tuscany's focaccia 'Schiacciata' is the herbed version of this flat bread. There are many regional variations to the preparation of Focaccia, to include, salted, non-salted, herbed and focaccia with pizza toppings. Regardless of the origin and preparation, Focaccia is a delightfully delicious bread that is great on its own or as a side to soups and salads.


Schiacciata, Tuscan version of Focaccia
The thing about making Focaccia though, you will have to make a starter called the sponge - kind of like the sourdough starter for making sourdough bread. This sponge is the raising agent of the bread. It will have to ferment overnight (12 hours) before it is ready to use. So make sure you make the sponge ahead of time


Here is how you can make this wonderful Focaccia....
You Need
2 Rolled Fresh Halloumi
6 springs, fresh Thyme, finely chopped
4 springs, fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata Olives, stoned and finely chopped
1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, finely chopped
Flavoured SeldeMer to taste (I used rosemary Flavoured)
Black pepper to taste
up to 4 cups Strong White Bread Flour*
1 cup warm water (105F)
2 tsp Salt
2tbsp Olive oil


For Sponge
1/2 cup warm water (105F)
1/2 cup Flour
1 tsp Active Dry Yeast








Make the Sponge




In a glass bowl, place the flour and yeast.




Add the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, until smooth.






Cover loosely with Nylon wrap, and leave at room temperature to ferment for 12 hours or overnight.




The next day, unwrap the sponge, and stir it with a wooden spoon. Gradually, stir in 1 cup warm water and the salt.




Gradually, stir in the flour till you have a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.




Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gradually knead in the remaining flour until you reach a firm yet smooth and elastic dough . (Total kneading time about 10 minutes).






Kneading


Step 1
Place dough on floured surface. With your left hand, hold the side of dough closest to your body. With your right hand, holding the other side. Push the dough, with your right hand, away from you, while pressing your wrist down towards work surface. Then fold the dough back together by bringing your right hand (holding the dough) back towards your left hand and repeating the process for about 10 minutes.


Step 2
Step 3


Add the finely chopped, Halloumi, Sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and 1/2 the quantity of chopped herbs. Knead into the dough. Knead just until all are incorporated into the dough. Shape your dough into a ball. Lightly grease a glass bowl with the olive oil, and place the dough inside it. Turn the dough once to cover with oil.








Cover the bowl with nylon wrap, and leave at room temperature (if you live in a cold area, leave in a warm place) for 1 hour to rise.


leave dough to rise for 1 hour


risen dough


After the dough has risen - 1 hour - turn it onto a floured baking sheet.




Because at home, we don't have proving rooms, this step will create a kind of proving atmosphere.Place a large bowl over the dough ball to cover it and maintain the same heat and humidity level.


This creates an atmosphere similar to that of a proving room
Leave the dough to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 475F. Once the dough is done proving, remove the bowl, and gently flatten the dough with your fingertips - pulling and pressing gently without disrupting the air bubbles in order not to deflate the dough.




Pressing your fingers into the dough, make indentations all over the flattened dough surface.






Brush the dough with herbed olive oil. Simply combine the remaining chopped herbs with olive oil and use to brush the dough surface.






Sprinkle the surface with flavoured or plain SeldeMer (or salt shavings). Dough is now ready to bake. Optionally and for a more intense flavour, add chopped halloumi, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fresh herbs on top of the brushed dough.




Bake for 15-20 minutes or until its golden and firm. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.




Although, bread making requires a bit of extra work, and has many steps involved; Home-made breads are delicious. Nothing like a home smelling of freshly baked bread... Simply PERFECTION !!
Enjoy :)





Hope you liked this post, thank you very much for reading it through. I hope I have encouraged you to bake your own Focaccia bread, it is delicious! Would love nothing more than hearing from you, so please leave me a comment :)
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