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Bake-Off Fougasse

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /
01/Oct/2016

We have been fans of the Great British Bake Off since it first started and occasionally I cook something inspired by the programme. This week they did a Fougasse, which I hadn't heard of but looked good. The version on the programme was flavoured with herbs but I thought I would start with a plain version then try flavoured ones another time.

I followed the bread part of the recipe precisely, scaling it down a bit since I didn't need two loaves.

  • 300g (2¼ cups) of bread flour
  • 6g salt
  • one sachet of yeast
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 ml warm water

The method involved adding ¾ of the water at the start, then slowly adding the rest, using a food mixer with a dough hook. I followed it to the letter, including the 8 minute mixing time.

I actually split the dough in 2, adding extra flour to one half to use for a pizza base. The other half I left as-is and shaped into an approximate leaf shape and cut down the middle and diagonally from the centre.

After about an hour or so proving, I transferred the bread, still on the baking paper, onto the pizza stone and baked it (at gas mark 7) for 15 minutes.

Fougasse

It looks a bit irregular (or informal as Mary Berry might say) but that was mainly because it slid off the tray while I was getting ready to transfer it to the pizza stone. We ate it with some dips. I made the cheese and courgette dip again, but this time using cream cheese and pecorino instead of goats cheese. The fougasse was good. The outside was crispy while the inside was soft and fluffy. The dip was cheesy and went well with it.

Next time, I will add some extra flavours to the bread. Possibly garlic and chilli or parmesan/pecorino. We have some fresh herbs in the garden (and more chopped in the freezer) so I could also do Paul Hollywood's herb version too.



Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownies part 1

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
30/Sep/2016

We have a glut of hot chocolate powder in work, left over from when we used a different drinks machine. I was talking to a colleague in the kitchen and I wondered whether I could use some of it to make cakes. I decided to take some home to make an experimental batch of chocolate brownies. If they were any good, I would make some more to take back to work to share.

Every now and then I use apple sauce in recipes, since it can be used to replace some or all of the butter. We recently bought an Instant Pot, which we use several times a week as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, bread proving pot, or sometimes just a giant saucepan. It is very useful and I fully intend to blog a bit more about it in the future.

We had recently been given a bag of apples from the tree in Emma's Auntie Val's garden. I peeled them, cut them into big chunks and put them in the instant pot with a splash of water. I cooked them on the 'Soup' programme for 15 minutes and they had cooked down to a smooth pureé, there was no need to mash or liquidize afterwards.

Recipe

I looked up some brownie recipes to get a feel for the quantities, then decided to use the hot chocolate powder to replace both the sugar and cocoa powder.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of apple purée
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cup of hot chocolate powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 50g of plain chocolate, broken into chunks

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4. Grease and line a 9 or 10 inch cake tin.
  2. Mix the apple pureé, eggs and hot chocolate powder together
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and sift into the wet mixture. Fold in.
  4. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  5. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Results

Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownie

Unfortunately I had to leave the house before the brownie was fully cooked so I turned the oven off and left it in while the oven cooled. When I got back, the brownie was properly cooked though, possibly a bit over-cooked because it wasn't moist and squishy inside.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the flavour though. Chocolate cakes do need a lot of cocoa powder or they just end up like brown sponge cakes. This was probably about right. I tried a square, then remembered that I needed to take a photo to put here. After taking the photo, I made a coffee and ate the second piece. If there is any cake left on monday, I'll take it to work, but I'll probably have to make another one to make sure there is enough to go round.



Apple and Banana Flapjacks

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
22/Jul/2016

I found some mashed banana and some apple puree in the freezer while I was trying to make room to put away some shopping. I was looking for recipes to try, something different to the usual banana bread, and decided to try some flapjacks.

Apple and Banana Flapjacks

The recipe was 250g of butter, 250g of fruit puree, 100g of brown sugar and 500g of porridge oats. The flapjacks were a bit crumbly and lacked the chewy texture you get with golden syrup. If I find myself making them again, I will probably replace some of the sugar with syrup.



Turkey Pizza Base

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / pizza /
09/Apr/2016

Last week I mentioned the chicken pizza base. We also occasionally make a pizza base using turkey mince. It's made from mince, seasoning and an egg. The mixture is quite sloppy so it needs to be spooned into a pan and spread out to cook.

Turkey Pizza Base

After it has cooked, it gets topped and cooked in the oven as before, to let the cheese melt.



The Bread Cave

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
03/Apr/2016

Yesterday, after making the pizza base (we had regular pizza alongside the chicken base), there was some left over so I kneaded in some chilli flakes and flattened it out to make a flatbread.

Not flatbread

It rose rather a lot in the oven so I wasn't too surprised when I cut it open and saw...

Bread cave



Chicken Pizza Base

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / pizza /
02/Apr/2016

We have been experimenting with alternative pizza bases recently. I had already tried a root potato pizza base a few years ago and we did one again recently. Something else we've been trying is removing the bread altogether, putting the meat on the bottom with vegetables and cheese on top

Chicken Pizza Base

We took a chicken breast, flattened it out then fried it. After that it was topped with tomato sauce, vegetables and cheese. Since the base and vegetables were pre-cooked, it only needed to go in the oven until the cheese had melted.

(Reposted from The Pizza Blog)



Leftover Bread part 2: Bread Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
16/Mar/2016

Yesterday I made both the bread frittata and a bread pudding. The former was eaten for lunch, the latter was put straight in the fridge last night and we had half of it as part of our pudding after tea tonight.

Ingredients

  • Bread, 200g
  • milk, 150ml
  • dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, sultanas), 100g
  • sugar, 50g, extra for topping
  • eggs, 1
  • butter, 50g, extra for topping
  • spices (cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice), 2 tsp in total
  • orange zest

Method

The method was very similar to the frittata. The milk and egg were whisked together. The butter was melted and allowed to cool down before being stirred in, then the dried fruit, sugar, spices and bread were mixed in. Everything was poured into an 8 inch tin. The top was dotted with pieces of butter and extra sugar was sprinkled on. Again, the tin was covered with foil and baked, also at gas mark 4, for 45 minutes this time. The foil was removed about 10 minutes before the end.

Bread Pudding



Leftover Bread part 1: Frittata

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
15/Mar/2016

We have a bag in the freezer which is filled with scraps of bread leftover from various loaves. I decided it was time to find something to do with them. I wondered if it was possible to do a frittata/tortilla using bread instead of potatoes or other vegetables. I found a few recipes, all using different vegetables and quantities of bread and other ingredients. I used the leftovers from tonight's tea, along with some cocktail sausages from the weekend.

Ingredients

  • 100 g bread, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 100g assorted cooked vegetables (I used onion, pepper, rice and sweetcorn)
  • 3 cocktail sausages, chopped small
  • salt, pepper and smoked paprika seasoning.

Method

I beat the eggs and milk together, stirred in all the other ingredients and poured the mixture into a greased and lined 8 inch tin. This was covered in foil and baked at gas mark 4 (180°C) for about half an hour.

Bread Frittata

The frittata was put in the fridge overnight ready for me to take for lunch tomorrow.

Update 16/03/2016

I had the frittata for lunch in work. It had gone firm enough to pick up and eat, making it ideal for picnics or packed lunches.



Hot Chocolate and Malty Bread

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
17/Feb/2016

I recently bought another jar of malt extract, to replace the one I bought back in 2013 which had gone mouldy. I have started adding a tablespoon of it to bread or pizza base.

Last week we had some milk in the fridge which was about to go out of date so I thought I'd have a go at making a malted drink, a bit like horlicks or ovaltine. I put a spoon each of cocoa powder and malt extract in a jug, added the milk and gave it a whisk before warming it in the microwave. It probably needed more cocoa but it was good.

Tonight I had a go at making a spiced hot chocolate. I put sugar, ginger, cinnamon and a cardomom pod in a jug of milk and heated it before whisking it into some cocoa powder. I guessed at the amounts of spice and got the balance about right. I didn't write down the quantities but it was about a quarter of a teaspoon of each.



Banana muffins and Madeleines

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
31/Jan/2016

I baked a few things during January which I didn't get around to writing about at the time so I thought I'd post a couple of photos now. I made some banana muffins a few weeks ago, to use up some over-ripe and bruised bananas.

banana muffins

We got a madeleine tin for Christmas. It had spaces for 12 cakes, and the recipe in the Hairy Biker's book said it makes 12, which was a happy coincidence.

madeleines



Mandelbrot Set on the Atari ST

Story location: Home / computing /
29/Nov/2015

In the early 90s I wrote a Mandelbrot Set generator in 68000 assembly language on the Atari ST. The 68000 processor didn't have any floating point arithmetic so I wrote a set of fixed point arithmetic routines with precision ranging from 16bit, 24bit and 32bit. These all had 8 bits for the integer with the remaining holding the fraction part.

I managed to find a copy of the program and got it to load in an emulator. The Atari takes around 10 seconds to draw, and only uses a 200x200 window. A couple of years ago, I wrote a Java version which works as an ImageJ plugin. This version is much faster (0.07s for a 800x600 image), which works out as 1700x faster than the Atari, despite only being clocked 300x faster. Processor design improvements and hardware floating point probably account for much of this increase.

The atari version can be downloaded here. The ImageJ version is available here (ImageJ and Java8 required - an older version which works with Java6 is also available)



Mandelbrot Set animation

Story location: Home / computing /
27/Nov/2015

A couple of years ago I wrote an ImageJ plugin to draw the Mandelbrot Set. I recently updated it to make animations (download available here).

See more ....

To make an animation like the video, use the ImageJ 'polyline' tool to draw a line, with the spline option to smooth the line. Clicking on the Julia Set button will create a set of images which can be aligned using the following script:

var out = "zigzag1/";

run("TIFF Virtual Stack...", "open=[JuliaSet.tif]");
rename("julia");

var frames = nSlices;
var w = getWidth();
var h = getHeight();

run("TIFF Virtual Stack...", "open=[mandelbrot.tif]");
rename("brot");

setBatchMode(true);

for(i=1; i<=frames; i++){
    merge(i);
}

run("Close All");
setBatchMode(true);
print("Finished");
exit;

function merge(i){
imgname = "frame"+i;
newImage(imgname, "RGB black", w*2, h, 1);

selectWindow("julia");
setSlice(i);
run("Select All");
run("Copy");

selectWindow(imgname);
makeRectangle(w, 0, w, h);
run("Paste");

selectWindow("brot");
setSlice(i);
run("Select All");
run("Copy");

selectWindow(imgname);
makeRectangle(0, 0, w, h);
run("Paste");

fn =  out + imgname+".zip";
print(fn);
saveAs("ZIP", fn);
close();
}

The images will be saved in the folder given in the 'out' variable. Although this can be accomplished using the 'Combine' option in the ImageJ stack menu, the script works with virtual stacks so can handle much longer animations.



Buckwheat Pancakes

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
08/Nov/2015

When we were on holiday in France this summer, we ate a lot of the buckwheat pancakes, both in restaurants and from the supermarket. We brought a couple of bags of buckwheat flour home with us and I meant to have a go at making when we got back.

buckwheat pancake

I made a thin batter from

  • 250 g buckwheat
  • 3 small eggs
  • about 500ml of 50:50 milk and water
  • 60g melted butter
  • pinch of salt

I'm not sure exactly how much liquid I added - I kept adding it until the mixture looked right and gave a decent thickness of pancake.

My pancakes weren't quite as flexible as the ones we had on holiday - it was hard to get them as thin and not break them while getting them out of the pan, so I made them a bit thicker. They tasted similar enough to the genuine french ones.



Regional Cakeathon Revisited: Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
01/Nov/2015

The barley bread was one of the recipes I wanted to try during the main run of the A-Z of baking but I had difficulty tracking down the barley flour. I eventually managed to find some in a vegan/health food shop in Digbeth in Birmingham but by then I had already made the Nottingham Apple Pudding.

The only versions of this recipe on-line seem to be more like a savoury scone than a bread, made with buttermilk and baking powder. I thought I would try to make a more traditional bread, using yeast. Since baking powder was only invented in the mid 19th century, if the barley is a genuine traditional food, then early versions would have used yeast.

Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread

I used a mixture of barley flour and bread flour, added yeast and salt and then enough milk to make a soft dough. It rose quite slowly so I left it overnight. I only made a bread roll sized loaf as an experiment but it came out ok. I will have another go sometime in the future and try a few other variations on the recipe.



Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
15/Oct/2015

I've been hearing a lot about the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte recently. It's been hard to walk down the street without seeing a poster or advertising board announcing their availability. I thought I should try one to find out what all the fuss was about.

I popped into a Starbucks on the way to work and ordered a 'tall' one, using their hilarious nomenclature of calling the smallest size tall. First impressions were promising. There was a very pleasant cinnamon aroma coming up from the cup.

Then I tasted it.

First impressions can be very deceptive.

Bleughh

Ewww, that's very sweet

The cinnamon smell was purely there to deceive the senses. It was sprinkled on the foam. There was no warming cinnamon flavour in the coffee. There was no warming coffee flavour in the coffee. There was a horrible sweet flavour masking everything else.

I couldn't finish it and half of it got poured down a grid.