For two large loaves:
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
For two large loaves:
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
It's been a flurry of birthday celebrations in the Colehill Kitchen this past week, and a birthday is not a good birthday without good food! I'm a firm believer in enjoying food as part of a celebration. I don't feel like it's been a real occasion unless the kitchen is brimming with ingredients and a medley of delicious smells has been emanating from it all day. This time there were aromas of chocolate (of course!!) and baking, as well as roasting pork, garlic and onions, balsamic vinegar and herbs galore!! It was quite a feast and began the week in true decadence!
Thanks to these birthday celebrations, I've had an epiphany about pork. I never thought I liked pork really. I always found it a little dull compared to other meats, and quite often dry and chewy, as well as finding crackling a complete and utter anti-climax.
How wrong I was.
We had the MOST beautiful pork loin from our local butcher (The Parson's Nose on Fulham Road if you're interested, which you really should be if you live nearby, their meat is phenomenal!). I asked for it boned and rolled, which the butcher did right there in front of me in a matter of minutes, quite an impressive sight, let me tell you! I hurried on home to cook it, and stuffed it with a rustic herby stuffing from Jamie Oliver's website (jamieoliver.com) which I tweaked a little. I don't often use his recipes, but this one was a real winner, beautiful tasting stuffing that complimented the pork perfectly. Obviously we had to have roast potatoes with it, and then some steamed brocolli for a bit of goodness!! And to finish, a chocolate mud cake with mascarpone cream. I know, restrained wasn't I?
I had a complete meltdown with the mudcake. I had arrived home from work after a nightmare-ish journey, and a frantic dash to the shop to get the ingredients, and was baking up a storm in a frazzled state, just finishing adding the chocolate mix to the rest of the mix, about ready to put it into the tins, when I happened to look around and see an unopened bag of caster sugar sitting next to me. Bugger. In my manic state, I had completely forgotten to add the sugar to the flour mix. What to do? Well, I decided to just add it to the melted chocolate and continue pouring this into the rest. The recipe said to put the sugar in with the dry ingredients, but the cake turned out so well, I'm sticking to my accidental method now!!
We've been indulging in delicious delights for quite a few days now - it's probably time to reign it in a bit... but before I do, let me share with you these recipes that I've been using during the celebrations!
Roast pork with herb stuffing
Pork loin, off the bone
500g rustic bread
small handful picked Rosemary
2 red onions, finely sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 heaped tblsp fennel seeds
sea salt and black pepper
4 tblsp balsamic vinegar
generous drizzle of olive oil
Throw it all in a mixing bowl and toss so that the oil and vinegar cover everything, then stuff into the pork. This makes quite a lot of stuffing, but try and get as much under the pork as possible, trust me, you'll thank me when it's cooked!! Then score the skin thickly and rub with sea salt to make extra crispy crackling!
I had a 3.4 lb piece of pork, the general rule is 20 minutes per pound plus 20-30 minutes, but I cooked mine for about an hour and a quarter at 180 degrees and it was perfect. Then let it rest for 20 minutes so that it's really juicy and tender when you eat it.
Maris piper potatoes
Boil the potatoes until the outsides are soft, drain and put back in the pan.
Hold a lid over the top and shake the pan to bash up the outsides of the potatoes.
Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, heat some oil (about 1/2 inch deep) in a baking tray in the oven.
After it's been heating for about 5-10 minutes, carefully place the potatoes in the oil, and put back in the oven at 180-200 degrees for about 20 minutes, basting now and then, until nice and golden and crispy. If they aren't crisping up then turn the oven to full heat for the last five minutes and they will be lovely and crunchy when you take them out.
Chocolate mud cake
125g dark chocolate
125g milk chocolate
250g butter (if unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt)
500g caster sugar
160g plain flour
165g self-raising flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 large eggs
125ml buttermilk (I couldn't find buttermilk but a substitute is to add 1 tblsp of lemon juice to 240ml whole milk, then use 125ml of this)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put the chocolate, butter, sugar and water in a pan and warm gently until the chocolate and butter have melted. Stir occasionally to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of sodatogether.
Place eggs, oil, buttermilk and extract in a bowl and mix.
Add egg mix to flour mix, then add chocolate mix in 3 stages.
Split into two springorm tins and bake for 45-50 minutes at 170 degress, or until a skewer comes out clean.
130 ml double cream
90g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the mascarpone, vanilla extract and sifted icing suagr together.
Whip the cream to a soft peak, and fold this into the mascarpone.
Slather onto the bottom sponge, place the other cake on top, then top with more mascarpone cream and dust with a little extra cocoa powder.
A healthy nutritious dessert!! ;-)
Monday, 10 August 2009
260g white bread flour
130g wholewheat bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp honey
1 packet dried yeast
300-350ml tepid water
2 tblsp olive oil
Very similar to my previous post on white bread, the method goes like this:
Combine yeast, flour, salt, honey.
Make a well and stir in water and oil slowly, mixing with a fork until you are able to get your hands stuck in and then knead for 10-15 minutes.
Leave to prove in a floured bowl and covered with a warm damp cloth for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Beat back, and divide into 8 balls, then prove for a further 20-30 minutes.
1 red onion, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Scoop about 1 tblsp of the mix on top of the sponge mix, and bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back and the cheesecake has a golden colour.
Don't overcook or the cheesecake will become crumbly.
For the frosting, beat the icing sugar and butter together until well combined.
People, I have experienced the holy grail of breakfast. I'm not joking.
I had a birthday treat last weekend, and quite a treat it was. We went to the Wolseley for breakfast on Saturday morning and basked in the glory of it while we drank copious amounts of tea (honestly, the best tea I've ever tasted, hands down), and had a selection of mini pastries to share followed by Eggs Benedict.
Whoever Benedict is, I want to thank him.
I've never experienced a breakfast quite like it. Now, I've had eggs benedict before, but nothing compares to the tower of deliciousness that sat before me on Saturday morning. The doughy muffin lightly toasted topped with a generously sized and beautifully salty slice of ham which married so well with the creaminess of the hollandaise sauce, and the most perfect poached egg I've ever seen. Good thing we'd had the pastries really, otherwise when my tower arrived I probably would have scoffed it down in an instant. As it was, my appetite had been curbed slightly by the support act, and I took my time over the headliner.
AA Gill has written a book on The Wolseley which I am in the process of tracking down now that I have experienced the place. Before we went there were copies of it everywhere, now that I want to find the thing and buy it so that I can pour over it and dream of more perfect breakfasts, it's nowhere to be found!! It's a beautiful book that is filled with the history of the restaurant as well as recipes, and as soon as I happen across it, I'm grabbing it and running to the till!!
I left wanting to recreate the magic, but decided that it would take many many many attempts before I even came close to producing something as exceptional as what we'd eaten there, so I restrained, and decided to bake bread instead, an eternally rewarding and satisfying experience.
I love to bake bread, I love the long process which requires patience from the baker, which makes the ultimate loaf so much more rewarding - you've been waiting for hours from when you started baking to when you can break into the hard crust and reveal the soft interior, then spread on some butter which melts on the fresh, warm dough. It's the ultimate in comfort food for me. Fresh bread with butter and jam and a cup of tea, it doesn't get much better than that.
Here's the simple white bread recipe I use:
500g bread flour
300-350ml tepid water
1 packet yeast (dried)
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp olive oil
flour for dusting
Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl.
Make a well in the flour mix and add the water and oil gradually.
Stir with a fork until it comes together enough to be able to knead.
Knead for 10-15 minutes.
Leave to rest in a floured bowl with a warm damp cloth over the top for 90 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
Beat back (give it a good couple of punches to knock the air out) then knead into a ball and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
Shape into a loaf tin, or if you don't have one, into a ball on a baking tray, and spray with a little water (this helps give the bread a crispier crust).
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
To check if it's done, tap the bottom with your knuckles, if it sounds hollow, it's done.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
I am working through the summer in various temp jobs, about 99% of which are reception work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to have work, and, quite frankly, so is my bank balance, but these environments are hazardous to my purse and to my stomach. I’m keeping Mr. Amazon’s kids in school with the amount of money I spend on there. I’m obsessed with the River Cottage Handbooks at the moment, they are SO beautiful...one day I'll have the whole set...
As well as this, I spend all day browsing through food websites, food blogs, online recipes…I’ve even begun to search random ingredients on the BBC site to see what lovely recipes come up. All this browsing through recipes and mouth watering pictures means that I am RAVENOUS by the time I get home, armed with dozens of recipes I want to try!
Sooo, which one to make??? I decided to make chicken kievs from Something for the Weekend, with roasted broccoli and sweet potato on Friday (something indulgent to celebrate the end of the week, it has to be done!). They were a real success. The filling was full of flavour and the coating made a really crispy crunch when you cut into it. The recipe suggested tarragon but I used parsley which worked beautifully, it gave it a little more freshness against all the butter and the roasted vegetables. I didn't have any breadcrumbs to hand so cut some baguette into cubes (about a centimetre square) and I dried them out in a cool oven (about 100-120 degrees) to make them really really crispy, and then ground them up. I think this added to the crunchiness of the coating and would thoroughly recommend it if you find youself without any breadcrumbs in the freezer (it also means you don't have to plan ahead and buy bread to go stale a couple of days before!!). We had them with broccoli roasted with coriander, cumin and chilli (you must must must try this, I'm sure it will convert those who aren't brocolli fans!!), and roasted sweet potatoes. Yum.
2 Chicken breasts
2-3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tblsp fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Mix the butter, garlic, lemon juice, parley and salt and pepper in a bowl.
Cut a pocket in each chicken breast and stuff with th 2-3 spoonfuls of the filling.
Dip each breast in the flour, pat off, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. (The recipe suggested patting off any excess breadcrumbs but I packed as many as I could on for an extra crispy texture!)
Fry in oil on each side until golden, then transfer to a baking tray and bake for 15-18mins and 180 degrees.
For the broccoli i threw the florets in a bowl with:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepperand roast at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes
And the sweet potato I cut into wedges and tossed in some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them for about half an hour.
Here is where it all begins, my notes and scribbles, thoughts and ponderings, trials and tribulations from the kitchen written down for anybody to see. They are no longer kept locked up tight in my own little world, where thoughts of dainty cupcakes, creamy frosting, soothing apple pie (or any pie for that matter), comforting freshly baked bread, sticky jams and all manner of other delightful treats swirl around in my mind and keep me day-dreaming all day.
But first, before I dive head first into caking, baking and generally making a mess of my kitchen and telling you about the results, let me explain a little how I got to this point, and why I have decided to (hopefully) entertain and interest you with lots of yummy recipes. I’ve always loved cooking and eating (who doesn’t enjoy eating?!?!) mostly thanks to my Dad, who taught me a LOT of what I’ve learnt over the last few years, and so after I finished my A-levels, I hopped on a plane and landed in the Swiss Alps, all set to whip up a bevy of delights for guests who were staying in my chalet. I spent four months cooking breakfasts, afternoon tea and three-course meals for the guests, as well as a spot of skiing in between! This, dear readers, is where I think my obsession with food and cooking began (cooking for others especially, I love providing delicious meals for people – food always makes people happy doesn’t it?!). My Dad and I spent the month before I left trying out the recipes, seeing what worked and what needed tweaking, and let me tell you, it was one of the most enjoyable months of my life.
After my adventure in the mountains, I came back and started a degree.
It did not go to plan.
I still had that hankering to work with food which would just not go away, and so after a year, I decided to leave my course and start working full time in a restaurant. The obsession develops. I learnt an invaluable amount working in the pastry section there, and had an amazing experience working in a professional kitchen. However, I decided after a year that working in the kitchen of a restaurant was not for me. I left and began an English Literature degree, and that brings us up to date!
So, with a passion for food (and talking about food), while studying English, what’s a girl to do? Start a blog of course!
And so this is the beginning. I plan on cooking as much as I possibly can and telling you all about it, let’s get started!!