Saturday, 27 February 2016

Another photo or two

I will get back to recipes, promise!

A wholemeal sourdough loaf, proved overnight in the fridge (in a small pudding bowl lined with a muslin and well floured) which seems to be the way to go as it baked very nicely this morning from cold.

It certainly smells good!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Sourdough bread - just a picture.

Straight out of the oven and smelling wonderful.

No idea how it tastes though!

Edited to add - I do now.  It's delicious.  Nice open crumb too.

A message . . .

 . . . from Google was waiting for me in Blogger this morning.  It said this:

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

So basically, if you don't have a Google account, in a short while you won't be able to follow my blogs or any other Google based blogs.

Obviously, I'm not saying get a Google account, but if you don't have one and enjoy reading Google based blogs including this one, you will need to sign up for an account.

(I've posted the same message in my other blog, Diary of a Teacher)

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Spiced carrot and lentil soup

Google Images
I made gallons of this today - oh, OK, 2 litres of it - to help to use up a big bag of carrots I got for 25p (yellow sticker, of course).
The rest are now diced and in the freezer, 'open' freezing.  Thanks, Diane, for the idea!

It has made a lovely, golden orange soup, smooth and creamy tasting with just a hint of spice about it!

Ingredients to make 2 litres
some oil or butter
half tsp cumin (or a bit more, if desired)
1 good sized onion, peeled and diced
550g carrots (but hey, what's a carrot or two between friends), topped, tailed, any manky bits cut off and discarded, and diced
1 outside rib of celery (more flavour than inside ribs), sliced - no need to de-string as it's all getting blended anyway
a squeeze of both garlic and chili purees (to taste)
100g red lentils
1 litre of hot veg stock - I used 4 tsp Marigold vegan vegetable stock powder (because that was what I had) with a litre of hot water.
125mls milk
a grinding of black pepper

In a large pan heat up the oil/butter and add the cumin, onion, carrots and celery, stir well and saute for about five minutes or so, stirring to prevent sticking.
Add the garlic and chilli, stir well and saute for another two minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, put the lid on the pan, bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft and the lentils are cooked.

Cool slightly and then blend until smooth in a machine or using a hand held blender.  Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.  I added just a little salt but the stock provided most of what was needed.

Serve piping hot with a dollop of yogurt.

The Thermomix way

Add the oil/butter, vegetables and cumin to the bowl and saute on 100, speed 1 for 10 mins, adding the garlic and chilli in the last two minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on 100 for 20 mins or until the veg is soft and the lentils are cooked.
Cool slightly.
Zizz on speed 10 for a minute.  Put a tea towel over the lid in case any splashes through the top.
Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.  I added just a little more salt but the stock provided most of what was needed.

Serve piping hot with a dollop of yogurt.

This will freeze.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Red lentil and potato dhal

 I thought I might make this today, for the freezer, as an accompaniment to a meat based curry.  I've made it before and it was jolly tasty but this time, as I have fresh spuds to use up, that's what I will use. If they mush down, tough!  Also I will probably add some chilli as I have some frozen chillies from the garden.
Not too hot, I hope, but with plenty of flavour.
1 smallish onion, peeled and finely chopped
a knob of butter
100g - ish of red lentils
4 or 5 value tinned potatoes, more if they are small, (they don't have to be value or tinned, of course, but that's what I used) finely diced.

1/2 tsp each of crushed garlic, crushed ginger, turmeric, garam masala
a good pinch each of cumin, coriander and cinnamon (all ground)
4 or 5 cardamom pods, slightly squashed with a knife blade
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp marigold bouillon powder
a little splash of white wine (needed using up) - optional

Melt the butter and saute the chopped onion gently until soft.  Add the potato and the red lentils and stir well.

Increase the heat a little and add all the spices.  Cook them out, stirring continuously.

Add the bay leaf, some salt and pepper, the marigold powder and some water to cover.

Bring to a simmer, almost cover and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until everything is very soft and thickened.  Add more water, if necessary.  Check the seasonings and add more water if necessary.  Long, slow cooking is the name of the game.

Before serving, remove the bay leaf and the cardamom pods (if you can find them)

Monday, 22 February 2016

An easy pizza base

I first heard about this on Facebook, looked it up on Google, watched the video and had a go.  It's very nice and no hassle at all.  Quick too, compared with the yeast based base

The original states Greek yogurt.  I didn't have any, just my home made 'normal' kind, which changed the proportions.

SR flour and natural yogurt in the proportions two to one - e.g. two cups flour to one cup yogurt (if it is Greek yogurt it is 1.5 to 1)
Pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together to form a dough.
Knead the dough gently on a floured surface until the gluten has developed and it feels 'doughy'.
Divide into however many bits you want, shape each bit into a round and roll it out thin.
(my two cups to one cup made two pizzas)

Place on a baking sheet (I put mine on baking parchment too), add the toppings and back at around 200C for 10 to 15 mins, until done.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Barley bread

I found a recipe, fiddled about with it, reduced the quantities by half with a bit of jiggling and had a go.  Dead easy and very delicious, so here it is.

First of all I ground pearl barley into flour as barley flour in bags is flippin' expensive and pearl barley is cheap.  Because it was being used for bread, I didn't sift it.
Then I used ordinary salt and ordinary sugar (the recipe said sea salt and caster sugar).
Also I used ordinary oil, not olive oil.
All in the interests of frugality. of course.

The most different thing was that the original said it was best baked in a Dutch oven.  I had to look that up and they are like those Le Creuset casserole pots.  I don't have one but I do have a hob-to-oven pot so I used that and it was fine.

It's a free form, rustic looking loaf and when my sourdough starter is ready I shall have a go with this recipe because I reckon it will taste even more wonderful.

Ingredients to make one smallish loaf
135g pearl barley, ground into flour as fine as it will go
80g strong wholemeal flour
75g strong white flour
5g instant dried yeast
just under 1 tsp sugar (about 4 mls)
15mls oil
under half tsp salt
175mls warm water

In a bowl, add the flours, the yeast and the sugar and mix well.  Make a well in the middle and add the oil, the salt and the water.  Mix into a rough dough and knead until you have a pliable dough that is not sticking to either your hands or the bowl but which is still slightly sticky to the touch.
(or do it in your mixer/processor/Thermomix as I did!)

Shape into a ball, drop into a bowl, cover with cling film and place in a warm place until doubled in size.

Just before the dough is ready, turn on the oven to 225C and place the Dutch oven in to heat up.

When the dough is ready, take it out of the bowl, knead it for literally just a few seconds, gently, on a clean, unfloured surface.  Shape it into a ball.

Take a large piece of baking parchment, scrunch it up, wet it, then open it out and shake off the droplets.

Place the loaf on the paper,  and carefully slash the top, gently place the paper and dough in the Dutch oven, put the lid on and put it in the oven.  Immediately turn the heat down to 180C.

Bake the bread, covered, for 30 mins, then remove the loaf from the pot, place it on the middle rack of the oven,  and bake for another 25 to 30 mins, until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Place on a cooling rack until cold.

You can bake it on a baking sheet but be careful the bottom doesn't burn.

I had it warm with butter, Beth had it cold with butter, I had some with my lunch soup (ham and veg) and I had some more with butter and cheese and it was, believe me, absolutely gorgeous with  a crusty outside and an open crumb.  Nothing tight about this loaf.  It has a nutty, rustic flavour that would go well with savoury toppings and accompaniments.
I don't know about sweet spreads because I didn't try, but I bet that would be nice too.

Another one to go on the list of bread to make again.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Boiling a ham the Thermione way

There's no magic about this one, I just did it using my Thermomix, it worked a treat so I am sharing.

I had a small gammon joint (from Aldi, of course, where else) that fitted nicely into the basket.
I popped a few bay leaves into the bowl, put in the basket with the gammon in, added enough boiling water to just show at the bottom of the basket and then cooked it on 100, slow reverse speed (because I didn't want to chop up the bay leaf) for an hour, adding a bit of water to replace the evaporation half way through.

Not only was the ham absolutely delicious, the stock wasn't too salty and was perfectly flavoured to make a bean and veg soup.

I might try other aromatics next time - perhaps a star anise or some juniper berries.

I love my Thermione!
Thank you, Google!

Jardaloo boti (lamb with apricots)

This is a recipe from my latest indulgence, 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi.  I made it yesterday and it was straightforward for even me, a beginner in curry cooking.

Fortunately, I found a link to the recipe as I wasn't sure about reproducing it here.
Here it is!.

I made half quantities using some very reasonable stewing lamb from Aldi.  I left the fat on for flavour but cut off what remained before serving.  Much just melted down into the sauce which had a real depth of flavour.  I didn't have cinnamon sticks so I used powdered instead and I used ordinary dried apricots from Sainsburys.

It was aromatic, both mildly sweet and mildly sour, not too hot because I adjusted the chilli to what I felt I could cope with and, as mentioned above, there was a great depth of flavour that lingered in the mouth.  The lamb was so tender it was almost melt in the mouth.

My half quantities made two portions but with lots of meat.  Next time I will also make a veg dish, something dahl-y, maybe, to go with it and then it should last for more meals.  I made flatbreads instead of rice and it was perfect, requiring just fork and fingers (and a napkin!).

Well worth making again at some point in the near future.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Frugal: sourdough pikelets

I'm into the second stage of my sourdough starter - the discard half and feed half bit.  It seems all wrong to just chuck away something so 'vibrant' and energetic as a good dollop of sourdough starter, however immature it is, so I'm making pikelets (easier to make than their taller sister, the crumpet).

When you take off half the starter, bung it into another bowl and to each cup measure add 1 tsp sugar, half tsp salt and half tsp baking powder.  Mix well and watch the bubbles start to form.
(I need to find out what 1 cup volume looks like in the bowl I use)

Then lightly grease a pan and spoon in portions of the thick batter.  Cook them over a low heat until the tops are set and full of holes.  Flip them over and cook the other side for a short while.  Remove them to a piece of kitchen towel or similar.

Toast your pikelets and enjoy!  They freeze brilliantly, which is just as well given that there are several days of discard and feed to go before the starter can go into the fridge!

If you have crumpet rings, you can use them to make taller ones.  I find the batter sticks to the side of my rings which is a pain but there you go!

Some gloriously home made looking pikelets - not mine and not my photo.

Mine are rather dark and 'heavy' at the moment because my sourdough was started with rye flour but they will lighten as time goes on, especially if I feed with strong white.

When I was shopping in Sainsbury's, I happened to see packets of pikelets.  Six titchy ones in a packet priced 80p.  That makes mine the frugal find of the year, doesn't it?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Lemon barley with ginger

Thank you, Google Images!

Another barley recipe! :-) This time it makes a refreshing drink.

Lemon barley water with ginger
65g pearl barley
the zest and juice of a lemon with extra bottled lemon juice if needed
about 1/4 tsp crushed ginger
600 mls water
25g sugar (plus more if needed)

Simmer 65g pearl barley with some lemon zest, a little bit of crushed ginger and 600mls water for about 20 mins or so, covered.
Sieve and discard the barley/citrus/ginger.
Add the juice of the lemon and maybe some bottled juice if you think it is needed.
Add 25g sugar and stir until dissolved.
Taste and adjust lemon and sugar as required
Cool and chill in the fridge

Lovely as a drink on its own, also nice with sparkling white wine or lemonade/tonic (I've tried it!).

Keep in the fridge, covered.
Best on the day it's made but will keep for three days.

To avoid waste, I read this here: I had already thrown the barley away but will remember it for next time.

The left over Barley is useful for a number of other recipes such as:
  • Bulking out and thickening soups and stews with it
  • Combining it with some chopped nuts, seeds, sultanas, raisins and other dried fruits for an alternative to muesli or porridge.This has natural sweeteners and is high in dietary fiber.
  • Add it to salads to add another texture
  • Pop it in your blender and use it as a thickener for your smoothies
This site also suggests other flavours - orange or lime, mint, maple syrup, cinnamon, etc.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Cooking for one: chicken and mushroom pearl barley risotto

I bought a bag of pearl barley to make some barley flour for pancakes (see what I did here).  Now I have to use it up so I am searching for ideas.  Here's what I made yesterday.

Ingredients to make one portion for a very hungry person
1/2 tbsp olive oil
half a leek, trimmed and finely sliced
a squidge of garlic puree
75g pearl barley
60 mls white wine (or just use more water/stock)
300 mls hot chicken stock.  Fresh/real would be wonderful or use Knorr chicken stock granules which are low salt.
some leftover bits of chicken after having a roast chicken or 1 chicken thigh, chopped and fried in a little oil
65 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced.  Chestnut have a better taste and hold their shape but they are more expensive so ordinary ones would do.
10 mls low fat creme fraiche (says the original recipe that I have adapted - I reckoned some soft cheese would be fine and it was!
some dried herbs such as parsley and tarragon.  Fresh would be better but I wouldn't buy them specially!
a little lemon zest
a little grated Parmesan (say about 7 g) or frugal alternative
Bit of seasoning if wanted

Heat half the olive oil in a pan, add the leeks and garlic and cook for 2-3 mins until the leeks have softened.  Add the barley, stir and cook for 2 mins, the pour in the wine (or a bit of the stock).

When the wine has been absorbed, add just over half of the chicken stock and allow to simmer gently for 40 mins or so until the pearl barley is tender.  Add more stock if necessary.

Add the mushrooms, stir gently and cook for another five minutes or so.  Add more stock, if necessary.  If using dried herbs, add these too

Stir in the chicken, creme fraiche and any fresh herbs you are using.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Reheat, if necessary.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with lemon zest, black pepper and Parmesan.  Serve immediately.

Look up how to make a risotto in a thermomix and do it the easy way!

It was absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Cooking for one: Jack Monroe's barley pancakes

I read this recipe while I was backtracking through the Live Below The Line section of Jack's blog.  I don't remember seeing it last year but I must have at some point.

I made them this morning and had them with pineapple, yogurt and a dash of maple syrup.  Absolutely delicious!  I did what Jack advised and ground some pearl barley to make the flour.  Like Jack, I now have a little pot of barley bits and I shall add them to my lunchtime soup or to today's bread dough.

I also have a big bag of pearl barley to use up!

Barley pancakes 
Makes 4 small pancakes, just enough for one!

20g barley flour (pearl barley, ground in blender and sifted)
20g natural yoghurt
1 egg

Make the barley flour by pulsing pearl barley in a blender or clean coffee grinder until it becomes flour. Put through a sieve. Blend any broken bits again and re-sieve.
Keep any tiny bits left to add you a soup, bread dough,etc. Don’t waste them!

Combine 2 rounded tbsp. (20g) of flour with the egg and half of the yoghurt to form your batter.
Heat a non-stick pan (I brushed mine with a little oil to protect it) and dollop the mixture on a tablespoon at a time. Cook for 2minutes each side, then remove and serve with more yoghurt and whatever fruit you fancy.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Cutting edge . . .

Here we are.

My groovy, new, high tech cook book holder.
No expense spared in my kitchen as you can see!

Well, it works!!!

Quick and easy poached egg

I've never done this before but I always will from now on.  I absolutely agree with those of you who say that the best poached eggs are those swirled in a little salted water, etc, etc, but it isn't quick and it is far from easy (I think)!  This way is different but very nice all the same.

So, this is what you do.

Very lightly oil or butter a teacup (one suitable for the microwave).
Crack the egg into the cup.
Pierce the egg yolk (essential to prevent explosions).
Cover the cup with cling film and pierce that too.
Cook in the microwave for between 30 and 40 seconds*.

It is best to wait until your toast has popped up before starting to cook the egg.  There's just enough time to butter the toast and get a plate to put it on before the egg is done.  It's that fast.

*The original idea (I found it in a thread on a closed Facebook group so can't give the link, sorry) said 30 seconds, someone else said they needed 40 seconds, I find 35 seconds is perfect for my current microwave!  I have no idea how long to do two.

The outcome is very nostalgic for me.  Because my teacups have rounded bottoms, what comes out looks very similar to the poached eggs my mum used to make in her old poacher.

It looked very like this but had four poachers, not two.

This is going to be a breakfast regular from now on!

Done it!

No, not a recipe, more a cry of triumph!   At last, at long, long last, I have managed to make pastry that I enjoyed eating!  It was short, lovely texture, not at all hard or card-like.

It was floppin' hard to roll out but I don't care, it tasted brilliant.

Thank you, Mum (she demo-ed how she makes pastry on my last visit there).

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Cooking for one: basic curry

Thank you, Google Images
It called it 'basic' in the book but it still had a list of spices.  Fortunately I had them all in although I wouldn't swear to the age of some of them!!!

I made it to have yesterday, should my friends not arrive, but they did, so into the freezer it goes.  It will be more flavoursome after a time in the freezer anyway.

I cut the ingredients down to make it for one because I wasn't sure how it would turn out and didn't want another portion left, should it not be very pleasant.  However, it was tasty and a lot easier than it looks.

It's very adaptable with versions for chicken, meat, fish or vegetables although the only thing different is the protein and how much water you put in.  It doesn't say pulses but I reckon chick peas would go well.
I used two small boned thighs, trimmed off all the fat and sliced them.

The sauce (for one portion)
2 tbsp oil (I cut this down to one and it was fine)
1 small/medium onion, finely chopped or very thinly sliced
1 garlic clove or half tsp garlic puree
small piece fresh ginger, chopped (or half tsp 'lazy' ginger
third tsp ground coriander
pinch turmeric
eighth tsp cumin and garam masala
half tsp paprika
1 tomato, chopped
coriander leaves to garnish (I didn't - I don't like them)

Make the sauce:
Heat the oil, add the onion and gently fry for about 20 mins until the onion is deep brown.
Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 min
Ad the coriander and fry, stirring, for one min
Add the turmeric, cumin, garam masala and paprika and saute for half a min
Add 100 mls water and cook for 10 mins.   Keep checking and stirring.
Add the tomato, stir in and cook for five mins.
Add salt to taste.

Protein - the bits in brackets are my comments
1 breast fillet (sliced)
2 small thighs or one larger one (sliced)
2 drumsticks
(or turkey steak)
+ 150ml water

150g stewing lamb
+ 250mls water

1 fillet of cod
1 salmon steak
(I think these would be too fragile and would break up.
100ml water

110g mixed, diced veg
(chick peas - I would say two or three tbsp)
+ 200 mls water

Add the protein and the water.  Cook until done.  The water evaporates away and the sauce thickens.  Add more water, if necessary.
Eat with flatbread or rice.

Taken from '50 great curries of India' by Camellia Panjabi.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Cooking for one: a pot of deliciousness (aka lemon curd)

Ages ago I shared my recipe (well, my mum's really) for microwave lemon curd.

Today I wanted to make some but just a small amount, one small pot, as I had one lemon and an egg to use up.

So I looked around, dug up the old recipe, did some calculations and here we go . . .

One pot of lemon curd
75g sugar
1 lemon and enough bottled lemon juice to make 75 mls
1 egg (large is best, if you have medium, reduce the sugar and the juice by about 10 (g or ml))
35g unsalted butter (if I don't have unsalted, I use the ordinary kind and it is absolutely fine!)

Sterilise your jar and warm it up (I pour in boiling water and leave it while the curd is making, then tip out the water and dry with a clean cloth)

Grate off the lemon zest, then squeeze out the juice and add bottle lemon juice to make it up to 75 mls (or you could use lime juice for a citrus mix)

Cube the butter.

In a microwaveable bowl place all the ingredients (sugar, lemon juice and zest, egg and butter) and give it all a bit of a whisk to mix the egg, juice and sugar.

Microwave on around 600 to 700 for one minute.  Stir well.
Then continue to microwave for thirty seconds at a time, stirring or whisking well in between.
When it starts to thicken (you can tell!), reduce it to about 15 seconds before stirring.
When the mixture has thickened, it is done.   There should be no lumps and it won't split unless you let it boil.  If you're worried, pass it through a sieve before jarring.
It will appear quite runny still (it pours easily) but will become more solid as it cools.

Pour into the clean, warm jar and seal immediately.

Use on toast, read, mixed into natural yogurt (a fave of mine) in jam tarts, as a filling for a cake . . .

Keep in fridge and use within three weeks which, frankly, is not difficult!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Jack Monroe's mushroom rogan josh

Here's the recipe:

And this is what I did and will do next time because, yes, there will be a next time . . .

I added some peas because I had them leftover and they needed using and I made half amounts because of the peas and because I didn't want more than one portion to freeze (because I am trying to use up freezer stuff, not add to it!)
I used coconut milk and added it to the tomato while simmering.

Next time I will up the spices a bit.
I will have replaced my chilli powder which is horrendously old and I think the flavour has gone walkabout!
I will crush the cardomom seeds in my pestle and mortar - they got a bit stuck between my teeth!
I will use more coconut milk.  I love coconut milk.
I will add other veg - definitely red/yellow peppers for a start.  Spinach at the end would be great too.

It was so easy, so tasty, such a great idea, easy to halve and very adaptable.  My idea of a good recipe.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The best breakfast porridge ever

Yes, it was, it was gorgeous.  And quite frugal.  And used up leftovers.

What's not to love?

I had some coconut milk left over from yesterday's curry . . . and this is what I did.

Ingredients (no amounts given, sorry) to serve one hungry person
enough porridge oats for one
leftover coconut milk
water to make up the liquid if necessary
pinch of salt
some pineapple bits*
a drizzle of maple syrup

In a saucepan mix the oats, salt, milk and water.  Add the pineapple bits and a bit of the pineapple juice, if you have it.
Slowly heat to simmering, stirring now and again.

Pour into a bowl and drizzle over some maple syrup.

Easy peasy and mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . .

*  I use Savers tinned pineapple from Morrisons which I share into five portions and keep in the fridge.  I add it to yogurt, porridge, into casseroles when appropriate, and so on.  One of my 'wouldn't want to be withouts'.