Sunday, July 21, 2013

Basic Bread recipe

Basic Bread recipe

400g Strong White Bread Flour
100g Wholemeal Flour
15g Dried Active Yeast
Sugar or Honey
10g Salt
350ml Tepid Water
Olive Oil

1] Put the Yeast in a small bowl, add some Sugar or Honey and a dash of tepid water. Let it sit in a warm place until it froths up nicely.
2] Measure out your Flour and add the Salt, mixing it in.
3] Add the Yeast and mix through, and quickly add the Water. The Salt will kill the Yeast, so move fast.
4] Stir with a fork. You can use your hands, but it gets a bit messy.
5] When it starts coming together, turn it out onto the work surface. Add a glug of Olive Oil into the mixing bowl.
6] Using your hands, start working it into a ball, adding more Flour or Water as needed.
7] When the dough has lost it stickiness start kneading and stretching the dough for about 5 minutes.
8] Form the dough into a ball.
9] Roll the dough ball around in the Olive Oil and cover it with Cling Film.
10] Let it rest in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
11] Pull the dough out and gently knead it again for a minute or so.
12] Oil or Flour whatever loaf tin/tray/saucepan you are going to cook it in, dust the top with Flour and cover it with a tea towel. Place the pan/pot/loaf tin in the oven. This is important, as when you take the tea towel off the colder air hitting the yeast warmed dough will make it collapse, so it's best to not move the raised dough around from place to place.
13] When the dough has risen under the tea towel, put the oven on a low heat for a few minutes, then gently remove the tea towel. Shut the oven door gently and turn the heat up to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and set the timer to 15 minutes.
14] After 15, revolve the pan/pot/loaf tin 180 degrees.
15] Cook for another 10-15 minutes until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with your fingers. Let the loaf rest on a wire rack for about half an hour.

If you have the time, do a second prove in the bowl before you do the final proving in the pan/pot/loaf tin.

Play around with the ratio of White and Wholemeal Flour.

Add in some finely chopped herbs to the dry flour mix.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Clementine & Almond Torte - (with versions)

Gluten Free (no flour)

1lb Clementine (about 6 fruit)
1x 250g pack of Ground Almonds
50g Sugar
6 Eggs (Chicken or Duck, see versions below)
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1] In a pot big enough to fit all the Clementine in a single layer. Cover with water and bring to the boil.

2] Reduce the heat so it simmers gently for 2 hours. Give the fruit a gentle stir every now and then, try not to break the fruit, and check the water level. Top it up with a little boiling water if you want to. You really don't want this pot to burn… It's horrible to clean (from personal experience…)

3] After 2 hours strain the fruit, keeping the liquid, and let them cool.

4] Once the fruit have cooled, slice them in half over the bowl you have strained the cooking juice into as they will drip lots of goodness. Remove and discard any pips. Some have none, some have one, some have two. Drop the cut fruit into a food processor as you de-pip them.

5] Get the oven on, set it to 375°F / 190°C / Gas Mark 5.

6] Whiz up the fruit in the food processor until smooth. Keep whizzing and add in an Egg one at a time, I suggest 5 as we have to judge the consistency. Add in half of the juicy cooking water.

7] Add in the Almonds, Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt and the splash of Vanilla Extract.

8] Judgement time. You will probably want to add more of the cooking water, and possibly another Egg.

9] Grease a 6 inch spring-side-loaded baking pan with a generous amount of butter, or line it with baking paper, greased.

10] Pour the lovely gloop into your baking pan and put in the oven.

11] Check on after 20 mins and turn the pan through 180 degrees. Overall you are looking at a cook time of 45-50 minutes until it gets a nice soft brown colour on the top. You can check this by poking a skewer/toothpick in the middle - when it comes out clean, it's done. If the top crust is burning too soon, slip some foil over the top.

12] When cooked, or even 5 minutes before, turn the oven off and leave the door open for a good ten minutes. I have found that the Torte can collapse with the sudden change in air temperature if you rush it out of the oven.

13] When you are happy with the Torte, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a wire rack.

14] It seems to set/taste better a couple of days after you cook this, so plan ahead.

Version 2 - No Nuts
For an Almond free recipe, add another Duck Egg or two and double the amount of Baking Powder.
The Duck Eggs definitely make for a richer 'custard'.

Version 3 - Added Lime Zing
Throw in a whole Lime to the starting boil off situation - This will obviously need careful handling with de-pipping before you throw it in to be whizzed up with the Clementines.

Version 4 - I bought too many Clementines - Added Zing
The veg guys at the market were doing big bowls of Clementines for £2 - So I boiled off the first lot as above, then mashed/sieved this batch and used it as the cooking water for the second batch - Nicely intense.

Untested - Add into the first boil off:
Cinnamon Stick
Star Enisse
Fresh Ginger
Whole Red Chilli

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Leftover Chicken - Thai Broth

A really simple and tasty use for that leftover chicken and home made stock after you have had a roast.

Leftover Chicken
Homemade Chicken Stock
Vegetable Oil
*Garlic Cloves
*Green Chillies
*Lemon Grass stick
Fresh Ginger
Red Chilli, if you want a bit more zing

*(you can sometimes get these four all together in little packs in supermarkets)

1] Gently fry off the finely chopped Shallots in a little Oil.
2] When the Shallots start browning, add the crushed Garlic and stir for 30 seconds so as to avoid burning the Garlic.
3] Add a generous amount of Chicken Stock and set the heat to a simmer.
4] Add in the bruised Lemon Grass, sliced Chilli, a chunk of the Galangal and some finely sliced Ginger.
5] Simmer until the liquid reduces, add the shredded Chicken and turn the heat off.
6] Let it sit for as long as you like so the flavours infuse the Chicken.
7] Gently reheat and, if needed, reduce the liquid as desired.
8] Serve over rice of your choice, and for a but more zing grate some Red Chilli over the top.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lamb and Yogurt Curry

Serves 4

1 Large Onion - Grated
4 Garlic Cloves - Roughly chopped
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Cardamom Pods, split
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Fresh Bay Leafs
600g  Lamb Shoulder or Leg, cubed
Water and/or Stock
Ground Fresh Ginger
1 Lime
Plain Yogurt

Spice Mix
2 teaspoons of Fennel Seeds
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
2 teaspoons Paprika
Pinch of Ground Turmeric

Dry roast the whole spices, then add all the spices to a mortar and pestle and finely grind them.

1) Heat the Oil in a wok, or big pan with a lid, over a moderate flame.
2) Add the Cardamom, Cinnamon and Bay. Swirl them around in the Oil for 30 seconds or so.
3) Add the grated Onion, lower the heat and cook until nearly browned.
4) Add the Garlic and fry for 30 seconds.
5) Add the Lamb and stir until the meat is browned all over and any water from the Lamb has reduced. Add the Spice Mix stirring to coat everything.
6) Add enough hot Water or Stock to just cover the Lamb. Bring the heat up so it just reaches boiling then immediately reduce the heat.
7) Stir in some of the Yogurt. It will might separate/curdle - don't worry, it will cook down fine.
8) Grate in the Lime rind and Fresh Ginger to taste.
9) Get the heat so it just bubbles away. Cover and stir occasionally.
10) Cook until the Lamb is tender, about 20-30 mins, and the liquid has reduced.

Serve over Fragrant/Plain Rice topped with some more Yogurt.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Perfect Sautéed Potatoes

Serves 4

4 Medium Potatoes (Maris Piper/King Edwards)
2 Tablespoons of neutral Vegetable Oil
Fresh Sea Salt/Black Pepper to taste
20g Unsalted Butter
Chicken Stock (optional)

A quick tip from Raymond Blanc - from his book Kitchen Secrets.

1) Peel the Potatoes and cut into regimented dices.
2) Rinse under cold water and leave to drain.
3) Blanch the Potatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain them in a colander to drain and cool off.
4) Heat the Oil in a large flat pan on a high heat and add the Potatoes, Salt and Pepper.
5) Sautée for about 5 minutes until they are golden brown.
6) Lower the heat and add the Butter and Stock. Stir to emusify and serve.

If you over blanch the Potatoes.
It happens. Boil the Potatoes for more than 30 seconds and they will be way too wet to sautée. Here is a tasty fix that I threw together.

1) Sweat off some finely chopped Onions in Butter and Oil. Let them cool.
2) Finely dice some cooked Beetroot.
3) Mash up your over blanched Potatoes.
4) Mix it all up and season with whatever you fancy.
5) Form into cakes and gently fry in Vegetable Oil/Butter until they get a nice crust.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Flaky Pie Dough

315 grams all purpose flour
15 grams sugar
5 grams table salt
225 grams unsalted butter, very cold
Ice cold water

To Make in a Food Processor:

• In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.
• With the machine running, quickly add some of the water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream; stop when the dough holds together without turning wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time (preferably mixing by hand so as not to destroy the lumps of butter).
• Divide the dough ball into two, and flatten each half into a rough disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum 1 hour (this time increment allows for the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that's easier to roll out).

Makes 2 pie dough rounds, or enough for one double-crust pie or two single-crust pies.

- You can make this dough either by hand using a pastry cutter, or in a food processor, but it's harder to overwork the pie dough when using a pastry cutter.
- It's very important to keep all of the ingredients cold throughout the assembly process. If the butter starts to soften, stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes to allow it to firm up.
- If not using the dough within 2-3 days, wrap the plastic-wrapped discs in tinfoil, or place in a heavy-duty resealable bag and freeze until needed. Thaw in the fridge overnight before use.

Adapted from here:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Roast Pork Shoulder and Pears

Time - 6 hours approx

    •    2 teaspoons Fennel seeds
    •    1/2 teaspoon whole Black Peppercorns
    •    Sea Salt
    •    One 4 1/2-pound boneless Pork shoulder
    •    4 to 5 large Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
    •    5 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
    •    6 to 8 medium whole Shallots or 1 large Onion cut into 6 wedges or a Leek chopped chunky
    •    3 Carrots, cut into large pieces
    •    2 large Pears, cut into quarters
    •    Cornflour or all-purpose flour
    •    White Wine,
    •    Chicken Stock
    •    Freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

1) Grind the fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt.

2) Place the pork shoulder into a roasting pan and cut the rind into cross hatches. Rub the spice mixture into the meat and put it in the oven for 4 hours.

3) Arrange the potatoes around and under the meat and put it back into the oven for 1 hour.

4) dd the garlic, shallots and carrots around the pork. Cook for 30 minutes.

5) Add the pears. Cook for another 30 minutes

When the meat is tender and flakes with a fork, remove it and the vegetables and keep warm. This will give the pork time to rest and become more tender. If the pork rind is not crispy, put it under the broiler for a few minutes until it is really crunchy and crispy.

To make the gravy, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the roasting pan. Stir the flour into the roasting pan, add the wine, put the roasting pan onto a burner over medium-high heat and cook until the wine is reduced by half. If not using the wine, do this with the stock. Now add the stock and scrape off any bits of meat and vegetable on the bottom of the pan. Taste and add any seasoning if you think it needs it.

If the gravy is too thin, make a paste in a bowl with 1 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon flour. Add some of the hot gravy to the small bowl and stir. Add this to the hot stock, stirring constantly and bring to a boil. The gravy will thicken slightly.