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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Last week we had some milk in the fridge which was about to go out of date so I thought I'd have a go at making a malted drink, a bit like horlicks or ovaltine.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.



Regional Cakeathon Revisited: Bakewell Tart and Chester Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
06/Oct/2015

When I was compiling the list of recipes for my 'Cakeathon', there were some letters where I found several recipes which I wanted to do. I decided to go through the alphabet once then revisit any remaining recipes.

A couple of days ago I blind-baked a couple of pastry cases, with the intention of making a Chester Pudding. While I had the ground almonds out, I thought I should make a bakewell tart too. I know that the Bakewell Pudding is the genuine traditional item and that the tart is a more modern version. I intend to try the pudding at some point but here is my attempt at a Bakewell Tart.

Bakewell Tart

See more ....
The filling was based on a recipe from a Hairy Bikers programme.

Chester Pudding

On to the Chester Pudding. While I was researching recipes, I found the there were two completely different puddings with the same name. One was a suet pudding, the other was a version of a Lemon Meringue Pie. I decided to make the latter. This was the same recipe which featured on the TV programme Terry and Mason's Great Food Trip, where Terry Wogan got driven around the country, eating local recipes.

Chester Pudding

When I read a few recipes, I realised that the lemon and almond layer was actually just a lemon curd with ground almonds and almond essence added. I decided to take a bit of a short cut and mixed a few tablespoons of lemon curd with almonds and spread that on the pastry base.

Apart from the pastry base being a bit thick and dry, both puddings/tarts came out well. The almond filling for the bakewell tart was really good for a first attempt. The lemon and almond layer in the chester tart could probably have benefited from more almonds or almond essence but that's a minor quibble.



Owls Everywhere

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /
01/Oct/2015

A few months ago, a load of decorated owls popped up in and around Birmingham. I managed to find and photograph a few of them on my way to work and during my lunch break.

 

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Click on the thumbnail to view the image



Regional Cakeathon Z: Zimbabwe Sweet Potato Scones

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
19/Sep/2015

At last I have reached the letter Z in my alphabetical trawl through cakes and geography. It only took me a bit longer than I expected. I originally planned to make something every week or so but it ended up taking one year and 9 months. I have had to leave the UK again since the only 'Z' recipes I could find were Zimbabwe or Zanzibar.

I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is. There are many versions on different websites, mostly claiming to be a cookie recipe and mostly identical to each other, so it's not been easy to find where it came from. I came across a book called Cooking the Southern African Way: Culturally Authentic Foods Including Low-fat and Vegetarian Recipes which has the same recipe, but without the lemon glaze. This book claims that the recipe was a British invention which may explain why the so-called cookies are actually more like a traditional scone, but without milk.

We regularly have sweet potatoes in the house, so last time we cooked some I grated and froze a tub ready to make these.

Ingredients

  • 140g butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 tbs orange zest (the original was lemon zest but I had some orange zest in the freezer)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (the original used nutmeg)
  • 60g honey
  • 1 egg
  • 140-180g grated sweet potato
  • 400-450g self raising flour (the original used plain flour and separate raising agents)
  • a pinch of salt

Method

I started by softening the butter then beating in the sugar, orange zest, mixed spice, egg and honey. I stirred in the grated sweet potato then sifted in enough flour to make a soft dough. I broke off lumps of dough, rolled then into balls then flattened them into cookies. These were baked at gas mark 3, 170C, for 15 minutes. While the scones cooled, I mixed the icing.

Lemon Glaze

The various versions on-line usually have a teaspoon of lemon juice then small amounts of water are added to get the right consistency. I didn't measure the icing sugar. I started with generous teaspoon of butter which I melted then added the icing sugar. I added enough lemon juice to form a spreadable icing.

Zimbabwe Sweet Potato Scones
The so-called Sweet Potato Cookies.

As I said earlier, these were more like a scone than a cookie. One of the small ones had cracked so I tasted (un-glazed) it while the rest cooled. The combination of orange and spice flavours worked very well. The lemon glaze added a bit of sharpness which worked well.



Regional Cakeathon Y: Yorkshire Curd Tart

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
13/Sep/2015

I first tried a Yorkshire Curd Tart back in 2010 when we went to the Otley Agricultural Show. I quite liked it so it was the natural choice for me to make for the letter Y.

The pastry base was a standard shortcrust, not the sweet enriched pastry often used for dessert tarts or pies. I figured that the traditional version of a recipe like this would have a more plain pastry.

I've never had much luck with pastry so after baking blind for 10 minutes, I removed the baking beans and put the case back in the oven for another 5 minutes to dry out a bit more.

First attempt at a Yorkshire Curd Tart

See more ....
The filling was made by creaming together 50g of caster sugar and 50g of softened butter. I added a teaspoon of mixed spice and 2 small eggs then the curd cheese. We use Quark semi-regularly so instead of making fresh curd cheese, I tipped in what remained in the open tub in the fridge, which was a bit over 100g. I then added 50g of sultanas.

I poured the mixture into the pastry case and baked it as gas mark 4 (180 °C) for about half an hour or so.

Yorkshire Curd Tart

Despite my precautions with the pastry case, the base was very soft and the sides were a bit too crispy. After baking, there was a strong buttery smell in the house and I was worried that the filling had separated but it hadn't. The tart tasted good, not too rich or sweet. It would probably go well with a cup of coffee.



Regional Cakeathon X: eXeter Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
16/Aug/2015

My choice of recipe for the letter X is a bit of a cheat, since of course Exeter doesn't start with that letter. I have also had to more or less abandon my original idea of doing recipes named after places I've been to or those with some significance or importance to me. I've not actually been to Exeter - the nearest I've been is driving past on the motorway.

I originally found the Exeter Pudding in the ever useful Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery. I had brioche crumbs in the freezer (which has to be a candidate for one of the most middle class things I've written) so I used those for breadcrumbs. I didn't have any rum or lemon rind so I added some limoncello to the breadcrumb-custard mixture.

Exeter Pudding recipe from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery

See more ....
Last night I made a couple of small sponge cakes, using the simple but reliable equal weights recipe. Tonight I assembled the pudding and baked it:

Ingredients

Sponge cake

  • 2 eggs (about 120g)
  • 120g butter
  • 120g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Exeter Pudding

  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g breadcrumbs (from a chocolate chip brioche I made earlier in the year)
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • a couple of tablespoons of limoncello with milk added to 150ml
  • Ratafia Biscuits

Method

I buttered a pyrex dish, sprinkled a handful of breadcrumbs over the base then covered with a layer of ratafia biscuits. I melted the rest of the butter and mixed it with the rest of the 'wet' ingredients. I poured a thin layer of this over the ratafia then added a layer of sponge cake, which I had spread with raspberry jam.

I poured some more mixture over, added more ratafia biscuits, more mixture, a final layer of sponge cake then the rest of the mixture. I covered the dish with foil and baked for about an hour at gas mark 4.

Exeter Pudding

The pudding was a bit sweet but the flavours were good, possibly thanks to the ingredients which went in - you can't really go wrong when a pudding contains cream, brioche and a rich sponge cake.

Exeter Pudding



Regional Cakeathon W: Welsh Cakes

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
05/Jul/2015

Most of the recipes I've done so far have been named after towns or regions. This is the first one named after an entire country, one in which I lived and/or worked for over 10 years.

Welsh Cakes

The recipe I followed was the average of several ones:

  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 3oz sugar
  • ½ mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • sultanas/dried fruit
  • a splash of milk

I put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulsed until it formed breadcrumbs. I then added the mixed spice and sugar and pulsed a few more times before tipping the mixture into a bowl. I added the fruit (a handful of sultanas and mixed berries) and egg and mixed well. I put a small splash of milk in to help it form a dough.

Traditionally, Welsh Cakes are cooked on a flat griddle (another name for them is Bakestones). I cooked them on our pizza stone for about 3-4 minutes each side.

It's been a few years since I ate a welsh cake (the last time I went to Cardiff) so I can't remember exactly how these compare. They tasted ok to me.



Birmingham Burritos

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
24/Jun/2015

It's been a while since I've written about eating out so I thought I'd mention a few places I've been to in Birmingham recently. The first one is Aunt Sally's Caribbean restaurant. I've been there a couple of times at lunchtime. The first time I had the jerk chicken (as you do). The second I tried the mutton curry. On both occasions I chose the larger size but I really struggled to finish the mutton. The prices may have gone up a bit recently but the food is good and the serving sizes are generous.

Burrito

The second place worthy of a mention is Habaneros, the burrito van near the Cathedral. I decided to try the pulled pork burrito with all the trimmings (apart from guacamole since I'm not a big fan of avocado, but I might try that next time). They cram a lot of food inside a 12 inch burrito and it's another lunchtime venue worth visiting.