Picnic with a pair of slippers

Last month L and I celebrated our 7th anniversary of our marriage in an unusual way. Instead of going out for a fancy and expensive dinner, we went for a picnic at the Botanical Garden early in the morning.

I can’t tell you how excited I was when we decided to have an anniversary picnic back in January this year because I wanted to have a picnic for so long. I was so excited to the extent that I drew the menu, made everything from my own kitchen including the sandwiches from bread to filling. I guess until now L might be still confused over my excitement.

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A picnic basket I wanted since long ago

 

“Can’t you believe that this is our 7th year?! It sounds so long!” I was amazed when I got my seat belt on in the car.
“Well, it definitely feels much longer than 7 years.” He said.

I am not sure what is the main reason behind his words  (probably because it is a tough and torturing process to him that seems so long lol), but I kinda feel the same way. We have been together for 11 years and we basically spend our time together almost the same way as we were in the beginning. Except for the first two years of our marriage, we had little or even no drama in this 11 years, living our life like those old married couples even just after a few months together. Now when I look back, I find it quite lucky it only took us 2 years to develop our own pace and the unique pattern of our life. Our own life, genuinely, not anything we adapted from our family of origin.

Life is much easier and comfortable afterwards when we move together towards the same direction at the same pace. It is like we are wearing a pair of comfortable slippers that are pre-set to move automatically without us need to discuss where should we head to and how.

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Spinach salad with hard-boiled egg, bacon and toasted pine nuts (I overcooked the egg >.<)
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ciabatta and smoked salmon and baked salmon in mayonnaise

picnic04_scaledApple, beet root and carrot juice

picnic03_scaledMatcha pudding

 

I made ciabatta for our picnic, a type of bread that is broad, flat and elongated in shape which gives rise to its name “slipper bread” in Italian. I like it due to its soft and airy texture. Most of the recipe I found for ciabatta involves biga, a type of pre-fermentation used in Italian baking. Making biga lengthen the bread making process so much that I wasn’t very keen for the wait.

I referred to Paul Hollywood’s rather easy (and lazy) recipe for my ciabatta. The bread has a crispy crust and much softer at the inside as compared to the other bread I have made before. If you find the crust of the bread is no longer crispy after a night on the table, all you need to do is to reheat it in the oven over low temperature like 150-180C and you will get a bread like it is freshly made.

I didn’t bother so much about the flat shape and made it as a big loaf at first. However, I later realised it will be more convenient if they are made it into smaller flat loaf for sandwiches to go.

 

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picnic_ciabatta_scaled

 

As many years passed and more years to come, I do not naively expect things would be only easier for us. Our slippers might be worn out one day due to the challenges ahead and I hope by then we have already got our pre-set hiking boots in our hands.

Happy 7th anniversary to us!

 

Ciabatta (without biga)

Serves 4
Prep time 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 2 hours, 55 minutes
Website Paul Hollywood

Ingredients

  • 250g bread flour
  • 5g salt
  • 5g instant or active dry yeast
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 200ml luke warm water

Optional

  • semolina or polenta (for dusting)

Directions

Step 1
Add bread flour, yeast and salt (on opposite side), olive oil and three-quarters of the water into a large mixing bowl. Set up your mixer with a dough hook and mix the ingredient together. Slowly add in the remaining water along the mixing process until the dough looks smooth and stretchy, which it should take about 5 minutes at medium to high speed.

(Dough hook is the accessory usually comes with the mixer that looks spiral and curvy)

Step 2
Oil a large rectangular container surface with olive oil. By using a scrapper, transfer all the dough into the oiled container and cover with tea towel. Leave it at room temperature to prove at least 1-2 hours until it has doubled or trebled of its original size.
Step 3
Preheat the oven at 220C.

Dust your working top with plenty of flour and/or semolina or polenta. Carefully transfer the dough from the container to the working top. To keep the air inside the dough, do not knead the dough and handle it gently. Divide the dough into 4 parts by using a scrapper and roughly shape each to a wide, flat, rectangular shape.
Step 4
Transfer the dough to a baking tray that lined with parchment paper. Allow them to rest for another 10-15 minutes before bake at 220C for 25 minutes.
Step 5
The bread is done when it has turned into golden brown colour and gives hollow sound when you tap it at the bottom.

Leave the bread to cool down a little bit on a wire rack before serving.

Note

Never mix yeast and salt together because salt will kill the yeast.

Ciabatta dough is sticky and very soft unlike the other breads posted in this blog. To prevent the dough stick to your hands while handling, wet your hand or dust the dough with generous amount of flour/semolina/polenta.

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