French Inspired Antipasto
I know I’m a little late on the Mother’s Day posts but, as they say, better late than never!
For Mother’s Day, forever ago, I made a French-inspired lunch for my lovely mum and the rest of my family.
My mains consisted of chicken marinated in lemon and sage over night and then cooked on the barbeque (easy when feeding masses) as well as roast potatoes and a couple of salads (waldorf sort of and tomato and feta). For dessert I made a French Apple and Frangipane Tart (stay tuned for that recipe).
But this post is dedicated to my entrée – French-inspired Antipasto.
If you’re wondering why French, the answer is that I received a French cookbook for my birthday last year from my brother. It’s Serge Dansereau’s cookbook “French Kitchen”. Which, by the way, is a really great book.
So I spent a lot of time perusing the pages and looking for inspiration for my Mother’s Day lunch.
My French antipasto plate consisted of rosemary fougasse, prosciutto, marinated goats feta and honey roasted figs.
The prosciutto and the goats feta I did not make from scratch. (Hey, there wasn’t time for everything). But the fougasse and honey baked figs I made myself. So keep on reading if you want to see how.
Fougasse, is a French flatbread, traditionally with slits across the top. It was a pretty laborious process with a lot of stopping and starting, so having other things to prepare in the meantime worked out well. Here is the recipe, which I’ve split into phases, from Serge Dansereau’s book.
Phase 1 – Yeast
Place 2 teaspoons of dried yeast into 1/4 cup of warm water. Stir it until it’s combined and then set it aside for twenty minutes in a warm place.
By the time twenty minutes are up, your yeast mixture should be foamy.
Phase 2 – Mixing the Dough
The next step is to mix, in a separate bowl, two tablespoons of olive oil and half a cup of warm water. Then add this to the yeast mixture.
Next, in ANOTHER bowl (lots of washing up coming your way), sift 2 1/3 cups of plain flour and mix in a pinch of salt and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Make a well and pour in your pour in the olive oil/yeast mixture. Mix slowly until everything is incoporated.
Phase 3 – Kneading the Dough
Here is the fun part. I say fun sarcastically because I’m not the biggest fan of physical exercise and kneading dough requires a lot of elbow grease.
Take your mixture and place it on a lightly floured surface – e.g. your bench top or a chopping board.
Then get in there and start kneading!
Tips for kneading:
-Use the bottom of the palm of your hands (where your hand meets your wrist) to knead the dough
-Fold the dough over on itself and knead it out away from you, and then repeat (and then repeat and then repeat and then repeat)
-If your arms are flimsy like mine, place one hand over the other for extra force
-You’ll know it’s ready when the dough is elasticy and feels (I find this analogy slightly gross) like a earlobe.
Kneading took me about 10-15 minutes. Boy was I tired.
Once you’re done, roll the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl which you’ve brushed with olive oil. Brush a little bit more olive oil over the top, cover with cling wrap and then a tea towel and leave in a warm place.
And now, you wait again.
Phase 4: Shaping the Bread
After an hour, come back to your dough. You’ll see it has doubled (or at least majorly increased) in size. If it hasn’t, well, your bread is screwed. I’d start again if I were you.
Take your dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.
You’ll notice it shrinks pretty much straight away. Excitement over.
Now you need to mould your bread.
Serge (we’re on a first name basis now) says to cut the dough into four and to flatten the bread into four pieces the size of your palm. You can do that if you like.
I moulded my bread into one long flat piece of bread, about a centimetre and a half thick. (If we’re being pedantic, the truth is I doubled my dough and so I really had two. But for the sake of the exercise, let’s assume I didn’t double the recipe and there was only one.)
Cut slits along the top of your bread, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and fresh rosemary over the top.
Then, you wait again.
Serge says to wait fifteen minutes to give the bread the chance to rise slightly again.
Phase 5: Baking the Bread
Finally, place your bread in your oven (preheated to 200 degrees). It should take around 20 minutes to cook, but you’ll know it’s ready when it’s nice and crisp.
Honey Roasted Figs
Honey roasted figs are so, so simple but so tasty. I can imagine you could make a variation to use in a dessert, chuck in a salad on a pie or anything. But they are also great on their own. On an antipasto platter. With rosemary fougasse and proscuitto and goats feta.
All you need to do is preheat your oven to around 180 degrees, take some figs (as many as will serve your crowd), cut them in half and place them on a (lined) baking tray.
Drizzle honey and cracked pepper over each fig and place in the oven.
Keep an eye on the figs and when they look roasted to a consistency you’re happy with, pull them out of the oven and leave to cool.
I left mine in the oven for around 10-15 minutes.
I served my honey roasted figs in a bowl which I placed back in the oven just before serving so that they’d be warm. But, of course, serving cold will be just as delicious.
A bit of fig, goat’s feta and proscuitto on some bread is just ridiculously good.
Would I make it again? Bread – yes when I have the time! Figs – definitely!