Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bakers potatoes

Usually on Sunday the boys like to have a roast of some kind.  However one did ask me a little while ago about making  Dauphonoise potatoes.  Which are lovely, but seemed really rich.  I looked around in my recipe books and online and found variations of bakers potatoes or boulangere potatoes as they are sometimes known and sort of made these up with what I had on hand.  Didn't use herbs but could easily put some herbs through this if liked. I started slowly cooking 2 thinly sliced onions and 3 cloves of garlic in about 65 g butter, strange amount but was end of a pack ;o)  Slowly cooked until they were slightly coloured and meltingly soft. meanwhile I peeled and sliced in my food processor around 6 medium large potatoes.  I did this by eye to how much I thought my dish would hold.  placed a third of my potatoes in the bottom to cover and placed half of buttered and onion mix over.  Seasoned and continued finishing with the potatoes and trying to make the top a bit neater. I made up 500ml veg stock with a cube.  Chicken stock is usually used for this but as I have a vegetarian in the house we used vegetable stock. and poured this in and around potatoes carefully.  it came to just below the top layer of potatoes.

I put this in the oven for around 70-80 minutes I think it was around gas mark 3.  When tested with a knife there was still a little resistance but very almost cooked.  At this point the oven gets turned up and you can dot to top with butter. I decided there was enough butter in there and kind of used a spoon to submerge to top potatoes a little and spoon a little of the buttery juices over the top. Could be why mine looks a little singed in places ;o) I left mine on a higher heat around gas mark 6 for 25 minutes while I got on with the accompanying vegetables.

I know the pictures don't look fantastic but it was a very family friendly, crowd pleasing dish we thought,  very simple and very yummy. The stock was mostly absorbed by the potatoes but the remaining stock mixed with the butter from the onions and left a sauce like quality but not absolutely puddles of it. It's fairly rich. Filling and leaves you feeling you have indulged.  Well it did us anyway.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Meal planning Monday

I usually do a rough meal plan and lose the paper I wrote it on by the end of the week.  I saw Nelly was doing this and had seen other blogs with it so thought I would give it a go, and submit mine along to .  At least by blogging this I can't lose my list ;o) I have a vegetarian in the house so I often am cooking 2 different versions or meals.

Beef stew with rice- Vegetable soup and bread

stir fry vegetables with noodles with left gammon from freezer.

carrot and cumin soup ( from freezer as made double last time) with tiger rolls

macaroni and cauliflower cheese

home made pizza night

home made KFC style chicken ( chicken thighs in freezer from offer in store)

Roast not sure on meat yet as not seen what butcher/shops have, but will include roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, carrots, peas and roast parsnips. Extra stuffing for vegetarian and gravy

Sally continued

After 5 days or so of feeding Sally daily I had a jar full of active bubbly sour starter I was elated.  So I measured out what I needed with rest of ingredients as suggested by the fabulous baker brothers and set this to knead/mix in the KitchenAid mixer.  So plan was I would feed Sally and store her in the fridge until next time.  So I placed Sally on the draining board, measured in my flour added water and gentle stir.  Next thing I know there's a massive chunk missing out the jar and Sally is trying to escape down the sink.leaving me with this.....

Now at this point I am shocked and really flabbergasted.  I had the insight to scrape a few tablespoons worth into the first container I could find and started to feed it and start all over again.  Won't take to long but heart breaking.  Meanwhile  dough is kneaded and left to rise for almost 4 hours while I got kids to bed and watched time team etc.  Came back to the kitchen to domed clingfilm and massively risen dough.

Then I left it to rise again overnight in a well floured mold.  Unfortunately my dough was to wet and ran a bit to much so I had a puddle of dough to cook this morning, But didn't affect the taste.  I really was left wondering why I stopped making this amazing bread and already planning on another loaf really soon and sourdough pancakes at the weekend 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Meet Sally

Many many years ago I used to make sourdough bread and had my very own starter. Today I started a new one. She's called Sally. So far she's a very calm and not bubbly creature but let's hope in a few days she comes out of her shell and shows us what she can do ;-)

Started off with 75g of organic wholemeal rye flour. Was supposed to use 75 ml of warm water but used a little more as it seemed very dough like. So this is Sally in her newborn state. I'll check on her tomorrow and give Sally her first feed after the school run in the morning :-)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Garlicky fondant potatoes

Last night we had Salmon for dinner.  Very nice it was to.  What I was stuck for was a little inspiration of what to go with it. Didn't want to do roast potatoes just because it was Sunday, not that boys would of minded, or boiled or plain new potatoes with butter and mint. Seemed the wrong season for that somehow.  So on our walk to the shop we found Charlotte potatoes on offer.  First problem solved.  Googling came up with the idea for Garlicky fondant potatoes . I halved the recipe as I didn't need to feed 8.  Although my eldest son wouldn't of mind eating a mountain of these. 

Start off heating oven at gas mark 6 

1/2 teaspoon olive oil
25grams butter
1 garlic clove crushed or finely grated, we used 2 but was namby pamby garlic needed more 
750 grams Charlotte potatoes, halved if large 
500 ml vegetable stock
sprig of thyme, we had Lemon thyme and worked well

heat oil and butter in either a roasting tin or a pan you can use on hob and in the oven. When melted add your garlic on a medium heat and stir in cooking for 2 minutes. Tip in your potatoes and stir to coat in the garlic butter making sure all are glistening. 

Pour in your stock and season with salt and ground black pepper. Bring this all up to the boil and place in preheated oven uncovered for 40-45 minutes, I left mine in for 50 but all ovens are different, The potatoes should be tender if stabbed with a knife and a fair amount of stock left in the pan.  At this point you transfer the potatoes back onto your hob over a medium heat and stir occasionally while the stock evaporates and leaves the potatoes coated in a slightly chewy but delicious buttery coating and the potatoes are meltingly soft and fluffy.  Pick off your thyme leaves from the stem and sprinkle over before serving.

Sure this took a little faffing and careful watching at the end, but it was  worth it :o) One I will add to my list of family favourites and try out on other family members really soon.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

cream of onion soup

We have soup on average of once a week in our house.  Just love it.  my obsession with soup was only fuelled last year when I found these red Le creuset soup bowls/bean pots with lids for sale.  They reminded me of my Mums soup bowls we ate soup out of when I was a young child.  Since then soup has become a more enjoyable meal thanks to these bowls. Usually we have bread with our soup but we still had half the cheese scones from my night time bake the night before and these complimented the soup very well.

This recipe comes from the book that accompanies the series cookery school. And although it is in the book with a gorgeous mini cheese and ham toastie to use as a crouton and a garnish of thyme oil I missed these out.  My older boy seems to have an aversion to green stuff and I think the thyme oil might of just been to weird last night so I left him with grated cheese and cheese scones to adorn his soup with.

I needed

50 g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 kg white onions, peeled and thinly sliced ( was 5 onions for me and many tears)
1 tablespoons marjoram leaves
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
900 ml chicken stock ( I used vegetable stock)
150 ml double cream
salt and fresh ground black pepper

I had no marjoram so I just left it out and just stuck to the thyme and it was fine

heat a large pan on a medium heat and add the butter and the oil, once the butter has melted add in the onions and herbs.  You will need to soften the onions for 10-15 minutes without colouring. Once onions are softened add in the stock, bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes

Blend the soup however you feel comfortable doing, I use a hand blender then put through a sieve if you want a smoother soup.  At this point I left the soup until I was ready to serve.  Then I added the cream and seasoning and heated gently and served.

This soup is great.  you can taste it's onion but it's so sweet but savoury even the onion hater in my house loves it.  Great with cheese or hunks of fresh bread to dunk in.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

cheese scones

Last night we had the joy of seeing another Great British Bake off program start.  This time with celebrities for the charity sport relief.  One of the recipes made was Paul Hollywood Cheese scones.  This had me diving straight into the kitchen to try them out. Quick and somewhat easy as long as the rules of scones are kept. As little handling as possible is one of them

First things first I put the oven on gas mark 7 and lined a baking tray with baking paper, and weighed out

  • 250g/9oz wholemeal flour
  • 250g/9oz plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200g/7oz grated cheddar
  • 100g/4oz grated Parmesan
  • 400ml/14fl oz milk
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten 
    I actually have a vegetarian in the house so I dispensed with the Parmesan cheese and replaced it with more cheddar instead.  It didn't give the tops a crisp top as Parmesan but was still delicious 

    First I took the first 6 ingredients and stirred well to thoroughly mix, keeping back 50 or so grams of grated cheddar or Parmesan if using for the tops of the scones. 

    With a wooden spoon or hands stir through the milk until it just comes together.  Tip out onto a well floured board and knead gently until it has come together in one mass and can be gently rolled out or patted into a 1 inch high shape.  Then using a 2 1/2 inch cutter cut out up to 15 scones.  I went a bit wrong here as I couldn't find my cutters and used a glass.  Which didn't have sharp enough edges so they didn't rise as much as they should of but still very tasty. 

    Place cut outs on your prepared baking tray.  Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 15-17 minutes.  Remove from oven and place scones on rack to cool as long as you can manage.  Split and slather with real butter and sit and enjoy with  a smile on your face :oD

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Epic hot chocolate

This was something I had been meaning to make since I saw Jamie Oliver make it in his Christmas with Bells on program before Christmas.  He made it with waffles but didn't get that far yet either. The hot chocolate looked very thick and luxurious.  And it didn't disappoint in flavour either. So I gathered up the ingredients, which were all in my kitchen anyway and added them all into a jar.  I used double quantities and my tablespoons were heaped but the original recipe calls for

• 2 tablespoons Horlicks
• 2 tablespoons cornflour
• 3 tablespoons icing sugar
• 4 tablespoons quality organic cocoa
• 100g quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely grated
• a pinch of ground cinnamon
• a pinch of sea salt  

The dark chocolate and grating caused me a minor headache as Jamie used a box style grater and being I don't have one I used the one surface one I had and chocolate proceeded to go EVERYWHERE.  So change of plan I put my broken up chocolate in my little blender and blitzed it into small rubble and dust.  Turned it a bit paler in colour but taste was still there. Layered up it looked pretty 
Then you do up your lid securely and shake until it's blended well together, fun part the kids like to help with, then it doesn't look as pretty but the taste makes up for it

Jamie says you need around 10 heaped tablespoons of this per 2 pints of hot milk, you warm your milk to almost boiling in a saucepan then add in your mix and stir or whisk with a small whisk until it has thickened. I found 2 tablespoons for one of my big mugs was more than enough but I guess it does depend on the size of your mugs.  Needed to add a little more cinnamon personally. But a pinch is a very vague measurement so it's one of those things you have to do by personal taste I guess.  As a family we have tried many hot chocolate mixes in the past and none of them are that brilliant.  But this one is one we will keep doing.  And it works brilliant with my resolution of cutting down on the processed food and items this year :o)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Easy start to 2012

Some days you just need simple, effective and really good. So a handmade loaf with hardly any kneading was called for.  Now don't get my wrong some days kneading traditionally can be good for stress,  But today I just wanted simple and really good.  So I opted for Dan Lepards Easy White bread from his amazing book Short and Sweet If you haven't encountered Dans method for kneading and making a loaf you really should grab one of his books and start giving it a go.  Pure brilliance. Anyway I am getting a little off track To start with all you need is

First add the dry ingredients into a bowl
add most of your water, you will probably need it all but I always keep 50 ml back at first just in case. And simply either with your hands or in my case a wooden spoon just mix until it is all combined and forming a ball.  A very rough shaggy looking ball but still all sticking together in one lump, mine looked a little like this.
Now just cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave for 10 minutes. after the 10 minutes is up we need to 'knead' the dough lightly.  first though I took a work surface and oiled it lightly just a bit bigger than the dough and rubbed a little onto my hands.  This ensures the dough won't take on any extra flour and have it's texture changed.  Take the dough out of the bowl and place on the board.  You will notice the texture and look has changed already and you haven't done anything yet. Now the kneading is a quick burst of about 10 seconds and no more.  All you should do is take a section from the edge and fold it into the centre of the ball, turn a quarter of the way round and repeat.  I get 8-10 turn ins like this in 10 seconds.  Turn the dough over so the smooth side is facing up and return to the bowl
Cover again with the cloth and leave for another 10 minutes, repeat the kneading twice more and after the 3rd kneading leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes.  It should of risen about half the size again and look a bit like this
Now we do something a little different, we flour a board or work surface and transfer the dough to this, I took the picture below to show you how the air pockets were forming inside. Really need a better camera for the colours and lighting though sorry. 

Pat the dough out to a rough large oval shape, or something similar like so
then roll up almost Swiss roll style and sort of pinch the ends together to a slight point.

Then transfer to a floured tray, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for another 45 minutes.  Meanwhile preheat your oven to gas mark 7.  When the 45 minutes is up and your loaf has risen considerably then dust with flour and slash it.  I usually use a craft knife with a snap off blade as you should use a knife that will cut easily with a sharp edge in one go so you don't knock out the air you have just created with the proving/rising. 
Cook on a shelf in top 1/3 of oven for 35-40 minutes. Mine came out looking like this.

I transferred it to a cooling rack and Youngest son and I waited impatiently until it had cooled down to just warm and ate a slice each with butter while watching Doctor Who on TV.  Life can be good :o) The crumb inside is slightly irregular and holey but very nice texture and taste for such a simple loaf.