As the past few months have been filled with travels to catch up with family and friends, I have spent more time in their kitchens, than in mine. I have, however, returned with new inspiration, and have recently been spending more time making more savory recipes than my usual sweets (forcing my few reliable taste testers to reluctantly put their sweet-tooths on hold). My brother, whom is a brand spanking new dad to twins...has still managed to find time to make fresh bread! And so inspired me to give it a go (again)...so I managed to make this simple but perfectly crusty loaf. Which we devoured with a nice Italian olive oil and Spanish manchego cheese.
However, while I was making bread, B was in Italy (for a last-minute work meeting). Pure Torture! As he was off to one of my favorite places on earth, I was left stuck in Abu Dhabi's unseasonably warm spring heat (44C/111F)! So I sat in our flat watching my bread dough bubble and rise in the perfectly humid warmth (perfect for bread dough, not for humans) as I wrote him an email with a long list of grocery items that I recommended that he return with, if he wanted to step foot back in the house. I thought it was pretty simple (i.e no gelato, no truffles, no Versace outfits)...
Artichoke hearts stuffed with tuna
Taralli (little round salty crackers made with olive oil and white wine...and one of my favorite snacks in the world!)
While there are many different taralli from all over Italy, I decided to make the classic Puglian version. I found an Italian video of a female chef making them on an Italian morning talk show, and then I was off!
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
Spices of your choice: i.e. fennel seeds or hot red peppers are the most common. (I used hot red peppers with a bit of chili powder too)
- Mix all of the ingredients above in a bowl and kneed them together until you have a nice smooth ball (just 4 to 5 minutes). Then cover the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
- Next pinch off 1/2 Tablespoon-sized pieces and roll them into little ropes (like in the photo below), then pinching their ends together into a ring shape.
- When you are almost through all of the dough, set a pot of water to boil, and set your oven to 375F/ 200C. When the water is boiling, put about 10 or so rings in at a time (giving them a gentle stir to keep them from sticking) and wait until they pop up to the surface...about 1 minute.
- Then carefully scoop them out and put them on a baking sheet (where they can rest before their final bake off).
- When you have boiled all of your taralli, stick the tray in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.
- Finally, do everything that you can to hold yourself back from eating them all straight out of the oven before they can cool properly. Enjoy with a lovely glass of wine, frizzy craft beer or Italian cocktail (maybe a Negroni?)...but a warning to you that these are addictively delicious!
...And if by chance you were wondering, B did amazingly manage to bring me everything on my wish list...so next time I obviously need to make it more challenging.