January to February

Well 2010 is well underway and I’ve been burrowed away for most of it. Most of January was filled with Luisa’s holiday with Dave and I in Seattle. It was an outstandingly brilliant holiday – a total treat getting to spend almost 3 weeks of fun with two of my favourite people in world 🙂 I’m currently reliving it as I post pictures from it on Flickr. Dave spoiled us rotten, picking us up and scooting us home to be greeted by a table full of Christmas presents. We had a mix lazy-at-home days watching Biggest Loser marathons and long days out. We expected snow but there was none in the Seattle area. So we drove out to find loads of in Levenworth, a kitchsey fake Bavarian touristy town about 4 hours out of Seattle. We went up the Space Needle and bought golden trouts from the fish throwing fish mongers of Pike Place Market. We walked through downtown and International District many times and had one particularly beautiful sunset walk through the Olympic Sculpture Park. We spend a whole day entranced and fascinated by the Museum of Flight. What else? We shopped a lot more than we’re used to and cooked lots of delicious food like this Spanish bell pepper and anchovy tart:

new year's tart

bell peppers, onions, anchovies and pastry

We made this for the New Year’s celebration at Randy’s house. I was still quite jet lagged so I don’t remember the celebration very well but I think there was hot pot, Dance Dance Revolution and I think at some point we did that very sentimental American thing where people go around the table and say what they’re thankful for.  It was sweet. End-ish January and into February it was back down to work. I worked on a paper and went to back to coding my virtual storytelling prototype. When I left off in December I had managed to build a skinned animated human model in Blender and managed to get it imported into an empty XNA Game Studio environment. I have been working in my safe little yellow study at home, and allowed my inertia to keep me there turning me into a bit of PhD hermit. Some days have been productive and some have been filled with internet trash distractions (wonderful bandwidth has its pitfalls). Apart from some cabin fever and Dave and the bunnies now the only beings that understand me it’s been good. So good that soon I might even post an update on my prototype so far 😛

Now about that tart…

Pepper, Onion & Anchovy Tart (serves 6)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 450g/1lb onions sliced
  • 4 red peppers sliced
  • 4 yellow peppers sliced
  • handful of thyme, oregano and parsley
  • 16-20 canned anchovy fillets

The pastry:

Mix flour and yeast, then mix in milk and egg yolk stirring constantly. Beat mixture for 5 minutes so so until the dough comes cleanly from the bowl. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Then form into a bowl , place into an oiled bowl and leave in a warm place for about an hour (the original recipe says it should double in size but mine never did and still turned out fine).

Meanwhile make the filling:

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick pan and add the onions, peppers and herbs. All of this should cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes so that the peppers and onions are soft but not browned (you can add a few tablespoons of water from time to time to stop ’em from browning).

Back to the pastry:

Preheat the oven to 240C  and lightly flour a work surface. Punch down and flatten the dough on the surface and roll it out into an approx. 30cm circle. Curl up the edge of the dough circle to make a lip and transfer onto a flat oiled baking tray. Spread the onions and peppers over the dough. Lay anchovies over the top of the pie in whatever pattern pleases you. Bake for 25-30 minutes until dough has risen and is crisp and golden. Serve warm.

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