Monday, April 30, 2012

Two More Ways With Sourdough

The loaf.

Half the Fabulous Baker Brothers recipe with twice as much salt (their recipe has so little salt it tastes a bit odd), in a little non-stick loaf tin. The tin belongs to the Wildlife Photographer. It is excellent. It does not need greasing. Not all tins are like it, as I discovered when trying to repeat this loaf for my mother. 30 minutes later I managed to get a squashed, cracked, but almost intact loaf out of her tin. Hmmmm.

The breadsticks.

Same basic recipe as the loaf, but knead in an extra 150g of plain flour. Then coat hands and dough with 2tsp of olive oil and knead through the dough. Taking golf-ball sized pieces roll out to roughly 1cm diameter breadsticks (don't worry about making them too even, the knobbly bits add rustic charm!) Brush lightly with water, sprinkle over coarse salt, pepper, grated cheese, smoked paprika, rosemary, or whatever takes your fancy. Bake at 210C for about 10-12 minutes until desired colour (I like mine a little underdone and chewy still). Leave to cool slightly on a wire rack, then consume. If using coarse salt this is about the only acceptable time to make an unsalted dough - the coarse salt will help make up for it.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spicy Speedy Salmon

This is not speedy in the "reach into fridge and consume" sort of way, but in the "Jamie's 30-minute meals" sort of way - you have to do a bit of work, but less than you'd expect. I have done the recipe to serve one, as that's how many I made, but it can easily be scaled up to the number required.

For salmon:
1 salmon fillet
1/4 pot of peri-peri humous

For accompanying veg (inspired by Jamie Oliver):
8 stalks asparagus (British asparagus currently coming in to season - very short season, get it while you can!)
2 tomatoes (British tomatoes also coming into season)
about 10 olives (I had a pack of basil and garlic olives from Graze (nice little website, sends you healthy snacks - 4 portions for £3.79, delivered through letterbox - link will get you a free trial box if you've not had them before - also gives me a £1 off my next box (for the sake of full disclosure))
splash of olive oil for pan

1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. Smear top of salmon with humous - a nice even coating is all that matters, this is never going to win prizes for how it looks)
3. Wrap hummus smeared salmon in foil or greasproof paper, and shove in oven for 15-20 mins (until cooked through)
4. Chop tomatoes into quarters, then each quarter into half crosswise (or chop tomato in half and each half into four... whatever)
5. Chop asparagus into roughly 2 inch pieces.
6. Heat frying pan, splash in olive oil, add a couple of pinches of salt and a few twists of freshly ground pepper.
7. Add asparagus and tomatoes to pan and fry over medium heat for about 5 mins.
8. Add olives to asparagus and tomatoes and stir over medium heat for another 5 mins.
9. Reduce heat to low and leave to stew gently - stirring occasionally, until salmon is ready. The tomatoes will break down to make a sauce.
10. Serve the vegetables topped by the salmon.

Incidentally, when uploading the photos for this post I discovered I did take a photo of the sourdough loaf, but I think I have bored most people enough about Sourdough for the moment, so will post about it at some other time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Thoughts On Sourdough

Firstly (and off the titled topic) I am happyified (yes, I am aware that's not a word, but for some reason "pleased" didn't convey the meaning I wanted) to read that you're interested in hearing more from me. Right now I have so many ideas stewing in my head they might suddenly explode into hourly posting, but I will try to ration them out! So, thank you for your vote of confidence (mind you, if you don't like it, you can always remove me from your blogroll/RSS feed/Kindle/print out delivered by your online neighbour).

But now, onto the main topic. Pigling Bland (can I call you that? Should it be Tales of Pigling Bland?) requested more information about the Sourdough. So I shall oblige.

Almost all my information about starting a starter, baking sourdough breads etc came from Sourdough Home, the method I used for starting a starter was this one. However, I am a stubborn, obstinate (hmmm, tautology), proud individual who believes I can generally make things better, so I did do a little fiddling.

For example - instead of starting with half a cup of flour plus a quarter cup of water I started with a half tablespooon and about three-eights of a tablespoon of water (because it was so thick that i could roll it into a ball otherwise!). And I used very cheap, plain, white flour (not even bread flour) from the start, not rye or wholewheat. Mostly because I only had white flour.

The starter should be stirrable but thick - probably equivalent to "ribbon" consistency, or a little thicker - that is, when stirred, a clear track should be left behind which slowly closes up.

It then really does need a lot of love. Warm room. 12 hourly feedings (as long as it is active). And patience. Lots of patience. Do not even think of using it to bake bread unless it is rising on its own - doubling in size between feedings (which you may not always see if it has already collapsed by the time you come to feed it again, but when feeding it should still collapse a little, and you must see plenty of bubbles on the surface). My initial error was trying to make bread with a not-quite-ready starter. My starter also seemed to improve after I fed it, put it in the fridge for 3 days (no feedings during this time) then removed a bit (about half a cup) and fed it up to full size (each feeding used about half the volume of starter in flour - i.e. for half a cup of starter, quarter of a cup of flour and between an eighth and a third of a cup of water to gain consistency described above)

It will smell a little like fresh yeast, or a mild beer, slightly fermented.

My loaf recipe (which I have not posted about yet) was the recipe from The Fabulous Baker Brothers. This produced a lovely loaf, dense, a little sour, but with a good, even texture. I did experience some crust lift off, but this was due to not properly knocking down my dough before shaping. I did not turn the loaf out, but baked it in the tin. I also turned the oven down to 210C and did not add the water, as the crust was breaking teeth when I cooked at 240 and used water.

If you're not interested in Sourdough, I very much doubt you have read this far, but if you have, my apologies for a dull post. I shall tell you about something different next time. Maybe.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Further Adventures in Sourdough

Really, this adventure was what all the other adventures had been leading up to. You see, ever since I had wonderful, Kosher, bagels in New York (no, I cannot remember where, I shall ask the American School Friend at the next opportunity) I have had a hankering to make my own. So, I did.

Granted, I generated so much steam that I set the fire alarm off (at 3am - it's a long story) and gave myself a free sauna. Plus, they're not exactly normal bagel shaped, but they were the best thing ever to eat. All crisp crust and chewy bagelly yumminess. Smothered in cream cheese and thick cut smoked salmon. It was all I could do to not break out in song with pleasure.

The next sourdough adventure was a pizza base (with topping, so really, a pizza).

Both recipes were from Sourdough Home

As an incident point, I currently average 3 blog posts a month, and am unsure of my readership (my stats are currently overrun by search-bots) - so I shall conduct a poll (respond in the comments, I'm too lazy to set a radio-button one up):

Should I blog more often?
a) no - we hear more than enough from you
b) a little more often would be nice, sometimes I like to hear your voice
c) at least daily, possibly hourly, please
d) other - please specify

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

"Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee"
Matthew 28 v 5-7

"Posterity will serve Him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn - for He has done it"
Psalm 22 v 30+31

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve"
1 Corinthians 15 v 3-5

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"
Job 19 v 25-27

"The word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10 v 8 + 9

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday

"But He was pierced for our transgresions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to His own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all"
  Isaiah 53 v 5+6

"From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani'"
  Matthew 27 v 45+46

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?"
  Psalm 22 v 1

"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split."
  Matthew 27 v 51

"Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the Ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place"
  Exodus 26 v 33

"Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away."
  Matthew 27 v 59+60

"We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will turn Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life."
  Matthew 20 v 18+19

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Adventures in Sourdough

I have a habit of becoming fixated on one thing for a while, obsessed, almost, before something new and exciting catches my attention. This month my obsession has been sourdough.

Ignoring all advice about new sourdough creators getting a culture from a friend, or not starting your own culture until you know enough about sourdough, I ploughed straight in. I used SourdoughHome a great deal, though I must admit, despite no experience in the issue, I still did a little experimentation. I started with very small proportions, and fed the culture up, over a week, so that I had to throw out less.

Turns out that sourdough is quite demanding. It needs feeding at least every 12 hours, a warm room, changing of the dish to avoid mould, and lots of love. (Okay, I made the last one up.)

But then, joy of joys, it was time to try it.

I grant you cannot really see the sourdough element of this meal. But that is a sourdough French Bread roll, topped with melted cheese, and chicken wrapped in bacon, marinated in barbeque sauce and oven cooked, with a side of Peashoots and Baby Leaves to make the ultimate chicken barbeque burger.

Then came sourdough chocolate cupcakes. These ended up a little drier than I intended, but I topped them with creamcheese icing (as used on Red Velvet Cakes) and they ended up alright.

As an incidental point, I am a big fan of Asda pastel coloured cupcake cakes - unlike some baking cases I've used, they came out looking fresh, and the colour was not influenced despite the chocolate batter. And they are very good value (48p for 100)

There are two more sourdough adventures to document, but since this post is already too long, I shall post them another day.