Thursday, September 20, 2007

September 23rd, 2007

Sourdough Cinnamon rolls!!
Okay if you are on a diet of any sort please look away now!!!!! Because I am about to give you the recipe for my gorgeous sourdough cinnamon rolls...
First you must make your dough and I did this in the bread maker on the dough setting and let it go through the paces for dough.....

Take 1 cup of your starter and place in the bread maker pan.
Add 1/2 cup of milk and 3 tablespoons butter and place on a low heat in a small saucepan until it is just warmed and the butter starts to melt. Don't get it too hot or you will kill your yeast. Just warm to the touch.
Add this to the pan along with one egg.
Add 1/4 cup sugar and a 1/2 tsp salt
Add 2 1/2 to 3 cups of strong white bread flour.
And one packet of yeast..... Let your bread maker do it's thing, checking at the start that it isn't too moist or too dry. Add some water if too dry and add some flour if too wet.
Now for the really really bad part........
Cut the dough in half and working with one half at a time roll out I didn't measure the thickness, but sort of like a thick pizza dough. (I only made half and the other half I just made into plain rolls, I was trying to watch the diet a little.)

Take and melt some butter, roughly about 3 tablespoons or so... I used the microwave for this job.

Now brush the melted butter, you can spread on softened butter if you like, but I was again trying to watch the calories just a little.

Now I know some of you out there have little helpers in the kitchen. But I bet I have the first cat that is interested in cooking!!! He loves to watch me cook. And is soooooo funny as he seems genuinely interested in what I am doing!!! Brian had to pick him up for him to have a look at what I was making.

Now sprinkle or spoon on some dark brown sugar. Muscovado would be even better. Sorry I didn't measure, but you want a good coating.

Next sprinkle over some cinnamon. The best cinnamon you can find. Use as much or as little as your tastebuds dictate to you. A really good dusting!!!

Next a sprinkling of pecans. As if there weren't enough calories already!!! And drizzle on more butter.. Not alot, but just a little.

Now along the wide edge start rolling up. I streched it a bit while rolling too. Pinch the edges shut.

Now slice into rounds.... about 1 to 1/2 inches.

Place into a really well buttered non stick baking tray.

Sprinkle on more brown sugar and cinnamon and put a pecan half on top. Drizzle more melted butter over the tops too.

Cover and let rise till double in size.......

Meanwhile here is our good ole friend Herman being fed!!!

Now bake in a preheated 190C fan oven for about 20 to 25 minutes till nicely golden brown. I would put a pan or foil under this pan to catch the dripping sugar that comes off them. You don't want a mess in your oven.

Next take and make the icing. I took about a tablespoon of butter and melted again in the microwave.... Stir in some icing(powdered/confectioners) sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Add icing sugar and stir till you can't anymore and then start adding a bit of milk or cream to get to this consistency.

Turn your rolls out, and I turned my upside down so the gooey bit was on the top. Now drizzle with your icing......

Get a nice glass of milk or cup of coffee and invite some friends over to help you enjoy. Less calories that way!!!


This is another of my kitchen gadgets that I have great fun using.... It does some really great carrot shreds for salads..... It is a mouliex I think that is how it is spelled. Any way you insert the cutting blade disk and then the handle locks that into place. You open it up and put your carrot or whatever in the little hopper part and clamp down on the long white handle and turn the other handle....

And this is what you get..... Just right for a salad and quick!!!

Quick supper dish!

Put on a pan of water to boil and cook some pasta I used fussilli.
Take some chicken breasts and chop into chunks..... Coat in a mixture of ground cumin, chilli powder(I used mild), and smoked paprika. Add some oregano and some chopped garlic. Stir fry in a wok.

Next add in 1 sliced onion, 1 red and 1 green pepper sliced and stir fry.

Add the drained pasta saving some of the liquid if you want more sauce or if your pasta gets too dry, add in some chopped tomatoes and a tin of chili beans. Heat through and serve topped with some shredded cheddar or red leister cheese.


Kitchen disasters.
Okay This was my failure for the past week..... I made another dish that I thought was a failure so didn't photograph it because it looked really bad, but it tasted really really nice.... The nice dish recipe was....
Take a swordfish steak and spread on some pesto. Pan fry with some sliced onions until done on both sides. Add some black and green olives and serve on some cooked spaghetti... Top with pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan. It really did look horrible, but the flavour was out of this world. We will be having that again even with it's bad looks!!

But not this dish.....Well not the same way I cooked it here.... First you make pancakes using flour and oats and yeast. It is a german recipe. These were really nice. Then take some vegetables and cook adding a teaspoon of curry powder(mistake one) And then my second mistake I added quark to the hot vegetables. It separates and looks rather disgusting!!!!!! So don't cook Quark!!!!! I should have just spread it onto the pancakes. Would have been much nicer. Then top with slices of tomato and then the veg. I will be doing this a whole different way next time. So I have learnt from my mistake.

But it looked okay.... Much nicer than the swordfish dish!!! Oh well just goes to prove you can't always tell until you taste it!

There is an UPDATE to the Garden blog the garden in a box has been installed!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

September 15th, 2007

It still feels a bit like summer time here so enjoying the fresh salads and sweet corn as much as we can. I keep hearing this talk of food miles and carbon foot prints and all the damage we are doing to our environment. So I have decided to buy some things from the farm shop a bit more. The food there is mostly local and I will be doing my little bit for the local economy and environment. Although I will still need to do a grocery store shop for some things. And tonight I ordered my garden kit for next year. Now to get the seeds. So keep an eye out for info on my grow my own veg...

This is a rather quick and easy supper but is packed full of flavours. First take a chicken breast for each person and marinate in a dash of olive oil and lemon with a tsp of grainy mustard and a tsp of honey. Let marinate at least an hour if possible.
Heat your grill(brolier) up to just below the max and cook the chicken about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Make sure it is cooked all the way through. Then pop on some mozzarella cheese and under the grill till it browns. You can baste your chicken with a combination of honey and mustard. Take your same marinade type of ingredients and whisk together to make a dressing.(Don't use the marinade that contained the raw chicken). Take some salad leaves and choice of ingredients place on plate, top with chicken and drizzle with dressing. Here it is served with fresh corn on the cob. YUM!!!!

Monk Fish
Not only am I trying to do my little bit for the environment, but I am also trying to fix healthier meals for Hubby and myself. So that seems to include more fish in our diets. I have only had Monk Fish once or twice before when we have eaten out. I thought it was nice and not too fishy tasting for my liking. It is a rather meaty fish, but not meaty like tuna or swordfish. So I asked my fishmonger how to cook this new delicacy. His answer and it seems like his answer for anytime I ask how to cook a piece of fish is to pan fry or grill it. But he did mention wrapping it up in some parma ham first this time. So I bought a pack of Parma ham and got the monk fish out of the freezer.... Looked on the internet for a recipe or two, just to make sure I knew what I was doing. I used a recipe I found on the BBC website and adapted this recipe from Tony Tobin Monkfish wrapped in Prosciutto

First take your parma ham and lay side by side. A packet of 5 slices will do two monkfish fillets. Sprinkle on some roughly chopped fresh sage leaves.

Next lay on your clean monk fish fillets. The recipes said to make sure they didn't have any membrane or skin on them. Luckily my fishmonger removed this for me as I wouldn't have known about this bit of information. Besides removing the membrane, he also removed the skin and then cut the fillets away from the bone. I am quite impressed with him so far and am enjoying new kinds of fish.

Next place the fish on the ham and wrap up. You can season with some black pepper if you like before wrapping.

Make sure your layers over lap.... Now heat a frying pan with a little olive oil to really hot and just sear on all sides for about 2 minutes. Next, place into the oven at 220C for about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile I prepared some fried potatoes to go along with the fish(actually started them before the fish) and put together a salad. The sauce for this dish is really lovely and light....
Take 1/2 onion and chop fine, saute in a frying pan with a little olive oil until they become translucent. Add a crushed garlic clove and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and a bit of double cream about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Reduce slightly. Right before serving tear some fresh basil leaves into the sauce.
Take another frying pan with just a sprinkling of oil ( I used a non stick pan) and some baby spinach leaves that have been washed and drained. And just wilt down.... Sprinkling of nutmeg and pepper.
To plate up
Place spinach on plate next to the fried potatoes. Monkfish on the spinach and then cover the fish with the sauce. Enjoy!!!!!

This was a first for Brian and he wasn't overly keen on the monkfish. I really liked this!!! And I am the chef soooooo guess who will be having monk fish when he has salmon. Wonder if I could get away with wraping salmon in parma ham.... hmmmm Comments on this are welcomed!!!
As I don't personally care for salmon, but Brian does.

Sourdough Week 3
Okay it has now been week 3 for Herman and he seems to be doing well, and I haven't killed him. I have remembered to stir him every day and say hello to him. And today was his feeding and clean house day.

Lots of air bubbles today!!! And still a very pleasant yeasty smell.

While we were in town yesterday I stopped by Holland and Barratts to pick up a few things like nuts and seeds. I have been looking for some rye flour for ages now and our super markets don't seem to be carrying it anymore. I really don't understand why.... is it that the farmers aren't growing rye anymore??? This does make me worry that possibly we are going to start missing out on a few key ingredients for future meals. It is like the story this past week of the poor Italians and their pasta. I can understand why the farmers are deciding not to plant certain crops and to plant others instead. But what is going to happen to our food in the future??? I still can't find Orzo anywhere in this town and I have looked everywhere I can think of. I guess our next trip to London I will have a look there. Talk about food miles!!!!

Anyway the recipe today was again done in the bread maker to the dough stage. I adapted a recipe from an Allinson Bread cookbooklet. It is for their Caraway Rye Bread.
Take 1 cup of sourdough starter and place in your bread pan
Add 100ml warm water
2 Tablespoons sunflower oil
1 to 2 tsp of sea salt
125 grams of strong white bread flour
200grams of rye flour
1 Tablespoon of carraway seeds
1 pkt of dried yeast
Placed in that order with the salt to one corner and the yeast in the middle. Turn the breadmachine to your dough setting and when done punch down and knead a bit longer. Then shape into an oblong loaf and cut three slashes in it. Let rise until doubled in size about 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Preheat oven to 190C. Brush loaf with water, milk, or an egg wash and sprinkle with seeds if desired. I went for sesamee seeds and water today. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until browned and hollow sounding when thumped. Let cool and then enjoy!!!!

The bread has come out quite dense and I think possibly I need to play around with the ingredients a bit more to get the air bubbles that are traditional with sourdough breads. But overall opinion in our house hold is this is a very nice loaf of bread!!!

As you may well have guessed, I enjoy playing around with new ingredients.(yeah I know food miles!!!) But when I was at the grocery I bought a packet of Farro in the Italian area of the store (a couple of small shelves dedicated to some gourmet goodies such as the likes of pate, and wasabi along with the Italian ingredients). I keep hoping I will see Orzo there. Anyway, this packet caught my eye and I wondered what on earth Farro was and how you go about cooking it. Apparently it is a whole wheat kernel of sorts. I am not real certain if it is spelt or not. But it looks a bit like puffed wheat that hasn't been puffed. So back to the internet I go in search of a recipe on how to use it. I think one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks has a recipe for it too. Anyway after reading about it all, I decided today was the day and so I treated it pretty much like Aborio Rice and made a rissotto with it. So on went the boiling water and the big pan to heat the olive oil. And in goes a good couple of handfulls of farro into the hot oil. Just like the rice I decided to brown it a bit in the oil. Now from what I could tell, you don't want to leave this too long or it will catch and burn. So in goes some of the water.... It immediately starts soaking this up. So on goes the timer for 20 minutes so that I can judge about how long to cook it for. In go my herbs, oregano, thyme, pepper and some chopped garlic.... now for the veg (topping up all the while with the hot water which I have placed a chicken stock cube in, you could use homemade stock and it would be even better) Two stalks of celery chopped, 1 large carrot chopped, 1 small fennel bulb sliced, 1 onion chopped, a handful of sliced mushrooms and one small courgette sliced. The stockpan I have holds about a litre of liquid or maybe 1 1/2 litre, anyway it is nearly full when I start and by the time I am finished with rissotto it is empty. But with the farrow, don't put too much liquid in or you may end up with farrow soup. Mine was a bit soupy. Anyway, back to the cooking, I added the contents of a rinsed and drained can of Cannelli beans to the steamy mixture and then hunted in the fridge for some cheese and 1/2 a lemon that were ready to be used up. I grated a mix of red leister and a strong cheddar into the mix and one last check for seasoning. And then served up with some fresh grated parmesan and basil leaves and some cherry tomatoes. It was lovely. I didn't really notice a taste as my other ingredients had a very strong taste and so the farrow if it had a flavour was masked. The texture was similar to the Aborio rice, but slightly different. More like pearl barley.

The Farro will need some more experimentation I think. And I will definately be buying it again. But need to find it locally if possible...... Any local Farro farmers in Essex????

Sunday, September 09, 2007

September 9th, 2007

I would like to Thank Patricia over at Technicolor Kitchen in English for her lovely Melting moments recipe . These little beauties do melt in your mouth, they taste rich and buttery with a hint of lime and were super quick to make and bake. They aren't over sweet and you don't need to pipe them as she did. I just dropped mine from a teaspoon onto the baking tray. The flavour matures upon sitting and are great with a cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of milk!!! Thanks Patricia!!!!

I started back to work again this week and it can be tiring when you have had a long break....
So you come home from work and are tired so want something super quick to fix.....
Slice some courgette, onion, mushrooms and put on a pan of boiling water. Once the water boils pour in some pasta stir fry the veg with some cherry tomatoes and a few herbs....

Tip in the pasta and add a bit of pasta water, sprinkle over some dried chicken gravy mix add some grated cheese and stir similar to a rissotto, splash of wine or lemon juice..... And quick as that is supper!!!

Next night on the way home from work I stopped by the farm shop who on a Wednesday and Thursday has a fish monger trailer set up there. I decided I would treat hubby and I to some lovely fish and fresh veg and fruit. Also came home with a goodie to try later once I find some recipes for using it. Amaranth!!! And I got a large bag of spelt flour too!!! The fish I bought was two nice pieces of Halibut (supper that evening), some monk fish fillets and 6 large fresh prawns.
The monk fish and prawns have gone into the freezer immediately upon arriving home ready for next week's meals.

The corn was super fresh and still had the husks and silks on it. I haven't tasted corn this nice since leaving the US. Usually the stuff we get in the super market has been around a bit longer than it probably should be.

For the fish I took and skined the halibut fillets. Take some chopped onion, and garlic and fry in a little oil. Add some bread crumbs, chopped oregano, rosemary and parsley. Juice of half a lemon and some pine nuts. I added just a small grating of parmesan cheese too. You can also use some chopped red chili pepper with the onions. Place your fish into a baking dish which has been oiled, top the fish with the crumb mixture and bake at 200 for for about 25 minutes. While this is cooking make up a salad of fresh leaves and which ever ingredients you like really. Then take the juice of half a lemon and the zest of the lemon, put into a small bowl, add some chopped rosemary and oregano, 1 clove of garlic crushed, some chopped fresh parsley and more chili chopped(optional), add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and whisk all together. Once the fish comes out of the oven place next to the salad leaves and drizzle the dressing over the hot fish and the salad leaves. This can be used with other types of fish too. And is becoming my very favourite way to have fish.

Sourdough Next step.....
Once you make your starter and you have it in the refrigerator you need to check on it every day and give it a good stir. And once a week at least you must feed it..... I combined this step along with making some rolls.

First take out 1 cup of starter from your plastic container... This you will use in your recipe. You can use this in any bread recipe in place of 125 ml of water (1/2 cup) and 1/2 cup or 75 grams of flour.

My recipe I made rolls with is as follows and is for a bread machine. Place all ingredients into your bread machine pan.
1 cup Sourdough starter
1 egg
125 ml warm water
30 grams butter
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons sugar(granulated)
445 grams flour(I used a mix of spelt, strong white and soft grains)
1 pkt yeast.
These I put in the machine on the dough setting and then once it was finished I proceeded to make rolls. You may need to add more flour or water according to humidity and such. This was a really sticky wet dough.

Once I turned it out from the bread pan, I knocked it back and with floured hands and board I made it into rolls.....

Placed them onto an oiled baking tray.

Let them raise till doubled in size. I used some scissors to snip a cross in the top of each roll. Just for decoration. Preheat your oven to about 180C (Fan) I would maybe go for a 200 without fan.
I brushed my rolls with a bit of water before baking.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.

And the final rolls. They are very light and tasty!!!

Now while you have your Sourdough out of the fridge it is time to wash Herman's house and to feed him. So place into a large glass or plastic bowl your starter. Always try to do this with 1 cup of starter. And to this add 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Sometimes I add a pinch of sugar as an added food for the yeast. Give it a good stir and let it sit at room temp again for a day or over night. Stirring down a few times. Again if he should turn orange or pink or have a really disagreeable odour then discard and try again. The smell should be yeasty and pleasant.

Don't worry about lumps.....

as they will dissolve as you can notice the little gas bubbles already forming.

This is about an hour after he has been fed....

And after another hour

See the lumps are almost all gone.

Don't be afraid if the flour and water separates a bit. You will get a clear liquid on top of your starter. Just stir it and it will combine again. Remember to make sure and feed him once a week and to stir him every day. And you should have a good friend to help with your baking. You will definately get rave reviews when you bake!!!!
Definately try using this recipe for making cinnamon rolls. I will post that maybe next week, depending on how the diet is going or not... Heee hee.......

I know I really must find a local butcher sometime and soon!!! I am getting tired of the supermarket's meat selection. But one bit of meat that I am really surprised by is pork tenerloin. This piece of meat if I were back home I would be paying a small fortune for and for some reason goes for a few pounds here...... So I was lucky to find a nice one in the store this past week.... I had seen James Martin on Saturday kitchen or some such show cooking some tenderloins with stuffing inside. I have chosen to stuff mine with some fried onion, bacon, apple, pecan stuffing.

Fry off some chopped onion and bacon and chopped apple in a little oil or butter.

In a small bowl add some chopped pecans, chopped rosemary and some dry bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the fried bacon onion apple mixture. Let cool slightly while you prepare the pork.

James had a couple of handy tips... First you must trim off the sinew so you don't get a tough stringy bit.

Then take and cut it down the centre but leaving some of the flesh uncut. And open it up a bit.

Now cut down on either side the same way part way through. Now at this stage I should have beat the meat out just a bit more...... But I forgot...

You want to make sure you don't have any holes. So be careful with the cutting and the beating. He used cheese and a chutney in his tenderloins. So he didn't want the cheese escaping. I didn't have to worry about that.... I next took some dijon and some grainy mustard and spread over the inside of the pork....

And then the stuffing goes in..... I don't know why but I always have way too much stuffing!!!

Roll up as tightly as you can. A tip here would be to use a sheet of oiled foil and then you could just put straight into the oven and roast that way. But I was trying to be a bit chefy so decided to wrap mine in some smoked back bacon and tie with a bit of string. Just remember to take off all the string before serving.

Then he browned his tenderloin in a hot frying pan on all sides and then put into an oiled roasting tin. I added some sprigs of rosemary to the bottom of the pan to help with the flavour. I then deglazed the pan with a bit of cider and a splash of brandy. And poured the juices over the meat in the tin.

I added some peeled halved potatoes to the tin too for roasting at 200 for about 30 to 40 minutes. If it is browning too quickly you can cover with aluminum foil.

Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes covered and make a gravy. I passed the pan juices through a seive into a sauce pan and reduced by about half. Added some cream and a teaspoon of mustard. Check for seasoning and adjust.

While it was resting I also microwaved some Romanesco that I bought at the farm market along with some sliced carrots and a dash of oregano and some chopped garlic.

I just love this vegetable!!! Isn't it just the coolest thing you have seen!!!

And although you traditionally have a roast dinner on Sunday this is our Roast dinner on Saturday along with fresh baked sourdough rolls!!!!