Sunday, 19 November 2017

Let us be brave!

Starting this post on Wednesday and hoping to have a finished result by the weekend...

After a successful bread, the very first item in the book, I am now moving to page 124, Christmas Buns, well you might ask why? and aren't you afraid that this will be a total sugary disaster, and my response is a simple shrug and a "because I can".

OK, it is now Sunday and I just finished cleaning the kitchen, had a good FaceTime session with my mom and off I go to the shops to buy the ingredients for the Christmas Buns.

So back from the shops with icing sugar, cranberries, apricot, brown sugar and a whole bunch of other stuff. In our house we shop once a week and hence today the fridge was absolutely empty. Lunch was whatever that was left over which included eggs, lettuce, pepper, ended up being nice really.  So as a result of having a very light lunch we ended up ordering a pizza and eating it outside, in the supermarket's parking lot. I don't know why, but my husband feels a bit more adventurous and its actually fun seeing people going towards their cars with a purpose and then shocked by us munching on our food...

The dough was very wet, and when I melted the butter in the milk, because I am generally an impatient person did not wait until it was lukewarm, so it was pretty hot to mix and then I remembered, there is this thing called spoon... adding the egg to the mixture happened after I was sure that the dough is cooled. After the dough was prepped, I kneaded for a good 10 minutes, it was very wet and had to really add flour at different stages of the kneading, then I left it in the corner of the kitchen to rise and rise it did.

2 hours later I ended up with a nice dough, without taking the air out, just laid it and rolled it and started adding the lovely christmassy ingredients.

After everything was added, I started rolling the dough, I had to add a bit more flour as some bits were stock to the working surface.

and then cut the dough into 9 pieces and laid them over the tray ready for the second rise.

25 minutes later they were ready, I added the glaze, the recipe said apricot jam, but all I had in my fridge was orange jam and I reckon that is also very Christmassy, so added the glaze and let it cool down and then added the icing.  I guess my adding the icing skill is not very good. but it did the job I guess. Here's the finished product.

The taste was really good, so good that there are only 8 left now and I cannot wait until it is morning and I am planning to wake up 6:30 am to get my coffee and bun.

Will see what the book calls for next week...

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

When there is a will...

So last week's attempt at bread 101 was a total disaster, I figured it was because I used dried active yeast without mixing it in the water first. So this past weekend I repeated the recipe and went for it again, on Sunday after a nice 4 hours road trip to Portsoy ice-cream and filled with happy thoughts, I started mixing and kneading with high hopes. Around 11 pm the hopes were shattered and I was once more left with a flat dough. At this point you can imagine how I felt... maybe I should stick to cake and perhaps its better to just buy from the shops and support the food manufacturing industry instead.

Monday night, a day of working on a project and having a good meeting with clients. I like it when people are good at what they do. The afternoon was spent on correcting and editing a paper. I really am blind when it comes to typos and grammatical stuff (be-ware readers!), so by 8 pm I announced that I will try the bread once more, I figured my yeast is out of date and not functioning, so head out to the shops for a fresh batch of this time instant yeast instead of active dried yeast, new ingredients and help from my husband with fierce kneading .... and 4 hours later, et viola. The crusty golden dome appeared from the oven, with the most magical smell that could probably rise me from the death bed.

Here it is the proud, third time is the charm, home made, white loaf bread...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Hello world!

After almost four years after my last post, I am back... what happened in the last four years is a blur... meeting new people, doing new and old things. But I am back and relatively happy! So I am taking on a mission, have you watched Julie and Julia? Its a story of a woman making Julia Child's recipes in 365 days. Its a true story and you can see Julie Powell's blog here. Its full of interesting life stories and funny things... I am gonna do the same thing (minus being funny and minus a lot of life stories, despite being a blogger (or trying to be), I am still quite private person.) So this won't be a book or a movie or my source of fame... its an exercise for sharing and its mainly for me (sorry to be quite rude about this), but I am doing this to make me happy, I feel I need a mission and I need to keep it tracked using this blog.

What else?... oh right, its not going to be Julia Child's recipes, its going to be Paul Hollywood's and its not got be in 365 days, its going to be once a week... so we are in (or I am in) for the long run. Why I am doing this?? I want to learn how to bake... I am pretty basic, only a few cakes and perhaps once or twice biscuits... So I want to practice proper baking and who is better than Paul's stuff?
So from this week forward, I will bake one thing from his book (How to Bake). Also I am not going to repeat the recipe etc exactly like the book... I will mention top ingredients and basic how to and then mainly talk about my experience and feelings and thoughts about how the recipe went and how I felt about the whole things, plus other chit chats etc. So Mr Hollywood can rest assured that there are no copyright issues...

So today I will start with the very first recipe....  Basic White Tin Bread.

Main thing is that I need white bread flour... all I have in my cupboard is plain flour... so of to the shops to get some white bread flour. I am however quite proud that I have instant yeast in my cupboard... (I am that good!). But I cannot go to the shops right now to be honest.. I have a deadline, need to review three conference papers for EHF2018  and I think the chair is going to send me a very angry e-mail if I miss today's deadline. So will save this post and return in about 3-4 hours...

More like 5-6 hours and a trip to the shops, I ended up buying the right flour... instead of strong, I went for very strong (with 14% protein). Mixed it with salt (8grams seems like a lot of salt) and kneed for about 10 minutes... It is right now resting and rising in a bowl while I am seated at the kitchen table working on a proposal that is due tomorrow...

Here is the dough... not that you don't know what a dough looks like, but I think it will make a nice before and after shot.

You see there are some olive oil bits at the base, I may have over used olive oil, but its fine. Nobody complained about too much olive oil (ever!) and if they did, they are not worth listening to.

OK, back to proposal and then I have a project meeting at 9 pm (the meeting is with GBC people in Toronto) and after that we might have a doubled in size dough ready for the next bit.

2.5 hours, a few paragraphs added to the proposal and one project meeting later, the dough is now doubled in half and then off to the rising stage. So knocking the air out ( which is a lot of kicking and hitting) and then putting the dough in the tin for another hour of proving and rising. (I am not going to take a photo of this bit, think dough in a tin and you are there!).

Another hour of working on the proposal and then we are ready for the oven.

... it is around 11 pm, the proposal not going as planned, somehow I need to think about a two pager diagram that summarises the innovative approach... On another note the dough is resisting any form of rise... I had glorious plans for this pan, alas! I may ditch both (proposal and the bread) for tonight, go take refuge in my book (Lee Child's  Echo Burning) that neither disappoints nor confuses. I will store the dough in the plastic bag in the tin in the fridge and return in the morning... who know maybe the universe is calling for hot bread for the morning rather than a late night snack.

Ladies and gentleman, instant yeast is not the same as active dried yeast... so in effect my bread had no rise whatsoever... (for information about the difference between yeasts see here).

The bread is however delicious and as you can see half of it was gone in no time.

I will repeat this experience (same recipe, correct yeast interaction) and post the updates next week.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Lamb tajine with cous cous

You know when it is very cold and you want something warm and a little bit sweet. Well this tajine inspired dish is to do just that.
Lamb shoulder (diced): 300 grams
Carrot: 2 medium (chopped)
Courgette: 1 medium  (chopped)
Onion: 1(chopped)
Chopped almond: 30 grams
Chopped cashew nuts: 40 grams
Quince jam: 2 Table spoon
Water: 1 cup
Stock cube :1
Vegetable oil: 1 Table spoon
Cous cous: 250 grams
Pepper and turmeric

Fry the onion in a pan  for a short time until it start getting golden, add the lamb and fry it for another 5 minutes on each side , add turmeric and pepper ( never add salt to lamb at the beginning it will make it hard and chewy). Add the carrot, courgette and fry them with the rest of the mixture for a further 5-7 minutes, add the nuts ( almonds and cashew nuts) and let them get comfy in the pan before you add the quince jam ( you can use any jam really but I like the texture of quince jam). add the water, put the lid on and let it cook for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes add the stock cube, because the cube is salty, you wont be needing to add any salt.
Prepare the cous cous, add some parsley to it and serve it with the lamb.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Schnitzel with Chips and Courgette

It has been a horrendous week.  I've probably had only one and a half nights' worth of sleep and my flatmate is not in much better shape!  So, we decided we needed some fuel in the form of oil.  However, it's possible to soak up some of the oil on a kitchen towel and use a good oil such as grapeseed to cook.

4 small chicken fillets, flattened
5 medium-sized potatoes
Half a courgette
1 medium egg
Salt & pepper
Pinch of saffron
Splash of milk
Cup of vegetable oil

Put oil into 2 frying pans and heat
Cut potatoes into thin chips of equal size
Shallow fry the chips for approx 20 mins until golden.  Leave to fry for first 5-7 mins until sealed.
Beat the egg, add salt, pepper and saffron and stir in a little milk
Dip fillets into egg mixture.  Coat the chicken fillets well with the breadcrumb mix.  Repeat the process again to ensure a good covering.
Fry fillets in the pan on a high heat for 10 mins then turn and reduce heat until brown and cooked through.
Meanwhile, cut courgette into thin slices and fry in a separate pan, adding a little margarine or butter and black pepper.
When cooked, drain oil on a sheet of kitchen towel and serve.

Serves 3.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Lamb casserole

Feeling in need of some comfort food to banish our troubles before the start of a new week, a nice, hearty casserole was the order of the day after a long Winter's walk along the canal.  Can't beat this meal with a nice plate of creamy mashed potato.  You can even add some Yorkshire puds if the mood takes you.

1 large onion, sliced
2 red peppers, cubed
1lb/450g cubed stewing lamb
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tblspn olive oil
1 clove garlic or dried garlic powder
Mixed spices:
Salt & black pepper
1 tspn paprika
Mixed herbs
150 ml water

Pre-heat oven to 190 deg C/375 deg F/Gas Mark 5
Prepare vegetables
Place all ingredients into a casserole dish
Cover and place in oven for approx one and a half hours, or until lamb is tender.
Serve with mashed potatoes and green veg.

Serves 4.

Courgette & Cheddar Frittata

You know when you have eggs which need eating and you don't know what to do with them?  Also, I have been marking coursework all week and I want to indulge in some fried food. Bless my flatmate who doesn't object!  Basically I asked 'would you like courgette'? and then said what I was going to do with it to make it less healthy.  That said, it's very tasty and goes very well with rosemary sauce.

2 medium courgettes (grated)
Breadcrumbs from 1 piece of toast
Approx 70g grated cheese
2 eggs
Half teaspoon turmeric
Salt & pepper
2 tblspnsVegetable oil

Heat oil on a high heat
Mix ingredients together
Scoop mixture up into balls and press flat into hot pan
Cook until golden brown on both sides.