[VERY BELATED POST] Pseudo-isolation, week 17: everything is weird (and quiet)

Note: this post was written almost a year ago, in July 2020! It had been sitting on my drafts for some reason, and it’s a pity because it has some cool stuff we did last year! So out it goes!

Feel free to imagine it is preceded by a whiff of naphtalene or something 😂

This week we went to two (!) restaurants and a pub and it was all weird and quiet. We also ran out of milk but made porridge anyway. And Devvers made Spanish sweets following a Valencian recipe again!

We still can’t walk without the persistent feeling that everyone is going to give us the virus, and many things are still closed, although at least the supermarkets around us are relatively well stocked nowadays.

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Sesame seed bread

Two sesame seed bread loaves cooling down on a rack

Sesame seeds are used mostly as a decorative element in Spanish food, e.g. as topping on burger buns or in “rosquilletas” (a sort of bread-based snack). The dishes with a much stronger presence of sesame seeds were all originating from Andalusia, such as tortas de anís and mantecados—possibly related to the Arab influence, but I’m hypothesising here.

I think I started “sesame seeding” my life after I tried Japanese food for the first time and I wanted to replicate some of the flavours at home. Apparently there was some mysterious ingredient called “sesame seed oil” that provided that extra “something” that my attempts were missing so far (no wonder something was amiss—I was using olive oil to cook Japanese stuff 😅). What a discovery!

Later I progressed to learn how to make hummus at home. It had a mysterious ingredient called tahini…! And once I discovered what it was, I wanted to put it on everything.

Then I started learning about all the sauces and dips you can make that involve tahini: whisk with a bit of water and it turns into a smooth dip. Add some garlic and it becomes nicely punchy. Or you can add lemon and yoghurt and it’s tangy and addictive. So many variations! All of them so tasty!

Of course, I also learned about the Divine Trinity: cumin, nigella and sesame seeds sprinkled on crackers or anything that deserves a good oomph. And there’s also my beloved dukkah, which you might have heard me talk rave about already many times.

But—and this is a big but—neither of these recipes really puts sesame front and center. I wanted to make something that would unashamedly declare its sesameness. Something where “sesame” was in the name of the recipe.

And so I came up with this sesame seed bread!

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A happy accident: freadafels (falafel buns)

Freadafels (Falafel buns)

I was trying to make flatafels, but using yellow peas instead of chickpeas.

Yellow peas, we found out in another attempt to make hummus with them, are sour if you just soak them but don’t cook them. So this time I had soaked and cooked them in the pressure cooker, but it seems that I went a touch overboard with them, and they were too soft. Borderline mushy. Ew.

To make things worse I also blended them in the food processor, as I was sort of just following the normal recipe for falafel.

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Sourdough wholemeal focaccia

Wholemeal focaccia, baked

I like to cycle flours quickly so that they’re always as fresh as possible and don’t go rancid or off (quite important if you’re using organic flours which have not been treated with chemical products and so have more chances to ‘breed life’).

I had a lot of Hodmedod’s YQ wholemeal flour which I wanted to use, but I wanted to try something different to the usual wholemeal loaf.

I thought of making a focaccia, which is very easy to make, but they’re normally made with white flour. Using wholemeal flour might sound like a heresy when the first idea that comes to mind about focaccia is a soft white fluffy dough, but the result surprised me—it was moist and full of flavour.

But I had nothing to lose, and much to find out!

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