Month: June 2008

nutty brown bread

nutty brown bread

Soda type breads are a great way to use up old milk, and don’t need yeast.

This recipe comes from an old book of mine entitled the Irish Baking Book – no sign of it on Amazon or anywhere else, but it has a lot of recipes from my childhood in it. I have no idea why this is called “nutty”, but it is gorgeous nonetheless.

We had it with scrambled eggs, the last of the mushrooms, and bacon for Sunday brunch, and then used what was left for lunch today – I had it with egg mayo, and Pete did something with cheese and a kabanos sossidge. Lets not go there.

50g oats
175g wholewheat flour
75g strong white (bread) flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp baking powder
250ml buttermilk (if you don’t have it, just use half and half milk/yogurt)

Put the oatmeal, flours, sugar and baking powder into a bowl and mix together.  Add the buttermilk.  Mix everything with a wooden spoon, and knead slightly (or do what I do – Kitchenaid with a dough hook!)

Place the dough in a small greased loaf tin, and bake at 200C/gas 6 for 30-35 minutes.

The recipe says “eat withiin 24 hours” – you’ll have trouble keeping it that long!

thai vegetable curry

thai vegetable curry

Using up: butternut squash, green beans, courgette

This is vaguely based on a recipe I saw on Come Dine With Me, a television programme here in the UK.  I was very struck by the potato element, which is:

One potato, boiled then cut into dice and deep fried.  Set aside for now.

Made a paste by blitzing a chopped onion, 3 cloves of garlic, about a square inch of ginger, a stalk of lemongrass, a dried chilli,  half a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespooon each of lime juice and  olive oil in a blender, and pureéd until it was transformed into a smooth paste.

veg for Thai vegetable curryPeeled the butternut squash that had been lurking in the fridge for a couple of weeks, removed and discarded the seeds, looked at it and realised it was *way* too much for this curry and returned half to the fridge.  Watch this space to see what I decide to do with the rest! Chopped the flesh of the remaining half into 1/2 inch cubes.  The green beans had been topped and tailed on Friday, and I chopped the courgette into smallish chunks too.

Put the paste into a large pan or wok and fried it gently for a couple of minutes, stirring all the while.

Added the veg, and stirred them about a bit, to coat them with the paste, then hurled in a tin of coconut milk. Put a lid on it, and simmered it for about 20 minutes, then uncovered it and cooked for about another 10. I added the fried spud a few minutes before the end (crystal ball job).

Ate accompanied by noodles cooked with a few drops of sesame oil.  I cannot begin to tell you how nice it was – it was ambrosial, utterly lovely.  The squash had started to break down, and had a texture that I can hardly describe.

This made enough to feed the two of us, with another meal’s worth gone into the freezer.

fennel risotto

some ingredients for a risotto

Using up chicken gravy, feta, salad leaves, fennel

Yes, another risotto^H^H rice based dish. These are just a great way to use up vegetables and so forth, and I love the texture – real comfort food stuff.

The chicken gravy/stock was left from Sunday’s roast chickie!, and was a much thicker liquor than I’d usually use for a risotto, but was none the worse for that.

Chop a red onion, and slice half a head of fennel thinly.  Sauté in some olive oil and a knob of butter until they’re soft, then add 5oz of risotto rice, and stir it around until the rice is coated.  Then add 1 pint of liquid – I just made up the gravy to the right amount.  You can use water, stock, wine, lemon juice – whatever takes your fancy.  Add some salt and black pepper – remember that if you’re cooking with feta, you’ll need less salt; it’s very salty.

Bring to the boil, and cook on gas mark 2 for 20 minutes.  Then I added half a block of feta cheese that needed eating up, cut into small cubes, stirred it around, and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes.

The salad leaves were a remnant from a Riverford bag.  I put them in a bowl, and added – from our little herb garden – chives, lemon balm and some bronze fennel leaves;  I made a dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar and a splash of tamari.  Worked very well – perlmonger kept saying, as he ate it, “this is *lovely*”.  And it was!

green beans with mustards

Green beans, chopped

Another reminder of childhood – my grandparents grew green beans in the garden of their little terraced house in Gosport, on the Hampshire coast.  They trained them up a sort of teepee arrangement of canes, and I can still see their bright red flowers.

Riverford sent us a big bunch (were they a bunch?  Well, plenty, anyway).  Pete and I don’t really eat “meat and two veg” meals, and so it can be difficult to know what to do with such things.  But here’s what we did.

Top and tail the beans, and string them if need be – these were nice and young, and so didn’t need it.  Then I cut them into diagonal chunks of about 1/2″, and blanched them for five minutes.  Drained and set aside.

Green beans, Indian styleeThen, in a wok (I like woks, ok?), I gently fried some black mustard seeds, a finely chopped shallot and some* garlic in groundnut oil.  Tip in the beans, add a good heaped teaspoonful of grain mustard, some tamari, a ground up dried chilli.  Warm it all through thoroughly, and serve with basmati rice.

There’s another bowlful of greenies left, which I shall deal with tomorrow.  I’m thinking feta, and lemon, and pasta, but that might change.  And the wretched slugs have eaten all my basil 🙁

*some being lots, in our case, but you might not want that much 🙂

broad bean wrap

broad bean filling for a lunch time wrap

Using up: broad beans, cashews in salt and black pepper, salad leaves, roast chicken

Riverford brought us broad beans last week (I think these are fava beans in the US).  They’re not something we get excited about, and so they languished in the bottom of the fridge.  Last night I fetched them out and podded them; they took me instantly back to my childhood – the pods are filled with a sort of woolly stuff, and I spent hours podding broad beans with my grandmother, ready for her to salt down into kilner jars (no freezers in domestic houses in those days).  She did the same with runner beans.

So today, we had them for lunch.

In a bowl went the beans (I should mention that I steamed them for about five minutes first), a finely chopped shallot, some chopped herbs from the garden (mint, lemon balm, chives and flat parsley), some shredded chicken, some cashews, diced cucumber.

Also in went a dessert spoon of mayo, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a good sloosh of lime juice, and a grating of black pepper.  Mix ’em all up, and place into wheat tortila wraps, with some salad leaves on the top.

You can see the finished wraps here.

Made a very nice change from our usual cheese and crispbread!

sunday breakfast

Sunday breakfast

We often have a cooked breakfast on a winter Sunday – although we usually do so much food that we lie groaning on the sofa for the afternoon, and just have some scones or something for supper.

We fancied something more substantial than usual today, but we were more restrained – four eggs scrambled with a little cream and some chopped chives from the garden, four rashers of locally “grown” bacon, and three bagels between us.  I had HP Sauce too – obviously.  Just enough, and leaving room for roast chickie! tonight.

We ate it while watching Turn Left, this week’s Doctor Who episode, which I thought was exceeding good.  And now I’m working, which isn’t, given it’s Sunday afternoon.  Ho hum.

Tesco: Nothing will stop them …

“Tesco has been accused of using underhand tactics after it used a local retailer to “front” a planning application for a massive supermarket development.

The application for an 80,000 square foot store in Barnstaple, Devon, was submitted in the name of local retailer Brian Ford’s, despite Tesco having acquired the independent retailer a year earlier.

No mention was made of Tesco’s involvement in the scheme, which will, if permission is granted, be built on the site of the existing Brian Ford’s store.”

From The Telegraph.

pan gallego

Pan Gallego

This is a Spanish bread from Galicia.  I made it to use up an ounce of fresh yeast left over from the weekend’s foccacia …

350g strong white bread flour
115g wholemeal bread flour
2 tsp salt (I think this was a bit too much myself)
2 tbsp olive oil
20g fresh yeast
275ml lukewarm water
2 tbsp each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1 tbsp polenta

Sprinkle a baking sheet with the polenta.

Combine flours and salt in a large bowl.

Mix the yeast with the water, add to the flours with the yeast liquid and the olive oil, mix to a firm dough, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.  (hint: food mixer with dough hook.  You know it makes sense).

Place in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm, leave to rise for a couple of hours.

Knock back, turn out onto a floured surface, knead in the seeds, and rest the dough (and yourself) for five minutes.

Form it into a round ball, make a twist in the top to form a cap, and place it on the baking tray.  Cover with a large bowl ( I presume this is to constrain the shape) and leave to rise for 45 minutes or so.

Then, in a pre-heated gas 7 oven, place a roasting tray with about 1/2″ of warm water in it, on the bottom of the oven.  Put the bread in above it, cook for ten minutes and then remove the water.  Cook for a further 20-30 minutes (I found 20 was fine). Cool on a wire rack.

The polenta gives it a really nice crunchiness.

Tesco being vindictive?

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has tabled a resultion at Tesco’s forthcoming AGM; he duly obtained the statutory support of 100 shareholders and tabled the resolution before the final deadline on 16 May.

“[This resolution]. would force it to adopt RSPCA standards or renounce its claim to allow its birds a life free of pain. The motion was tabled before a final deadline.”

Tesco, a company not famed for taking such things lying down, has decided that HF-W must pay them £86,888 for the cost of sending this resolution out to its 235,000 shareholders. Interesting that this year they sent out the AGM papers out 2 weeks earlier than last year; *and* his resolution was in in time.

For what it’s worth, I think Tesco – much as I loathe them – are quite entitled to sell chickens that are raised in appalling, yet legal, conditions, to people who don’t want to spend money on better quality food. The fault here is not, I don’t think, with Tesco, but with DEFRA (gosh, really?) and consumers.

But this tactic of theirs with regard to a legitimate shareholder’s legitimate concerns is really not impressive.

More from the Independent.

apricot, almond and lemon sponge pudding

poaching apricots

As always, I was looking to use up something; in this instance, a bowl of apricots that were going a bit wrinkly – I sometimes think this blog should be subtitled “reactive cooking”.  In fact, I think I will do just that!

[later] And I have, if you look at the address bar!

A bit of googling brought forther the fact that apricots are often flavoured with cardamon; I don’t know why I’d never though of it, because I love mixing fruit with spice.

So:  cut some apricots in half, and remove the stones.  Place them, cut side down, in a wide, shallow pan, and add some cardamon seeds (note: you want the little black seeds from inside the pods, not the pods themselves, if possible), a sprinkling of caster sugar (we like our fruit tart, so adjust to taste), a splash of vanilla essence, or a pod or whatever you prefer, vanilla-wise), and about half an inch of water.

Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about five minutes.  Remove the apricots to an oven proof dish, then reduce the liquor to about half its volume by boiling it fiercely.  Pour it over the apricots.

In a food mixer, blitz 110g each of butter, ground almonds and caster sugar, 2 large eggs, and the rind of one lemon.  Pour this over the fruit, and then scatter flaked slivered almonds over the top – I did wonder if this latter might be an almond too far, but it wasn’t.

Bake for an hour at gas 4 / 180C, serve with ice cream or cream.  Truly lovely.