We had a jar of mincemeat in the cupboard from last Christmas, and some filo pastry left over from home-made sausage rolls. I decided to make some mince pies.
The crumble topping was made using equal weights of oats, wholemeal flour, butter and sugar.
This year at the German Market, I decided to try a few new things, so instead of just choosing at random, I picked something new or different.
There were a couple of places selling potato pancakes. The first one I went to was serving 'plain' pancakes with either icing sugar or apple sauce.
A few days later I went to a different stall and had savoury potato pancakes with smoked salmon and creme fraiche.
Roast pork bap
Schnitzel and chips
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My latest attempt in my international breads comes from Eritrea. There appear to be both sweet and spicy versions of this bread, but I decided to try the sweet version.
- 250g Flour (I used a mixture of white and wholemeal bread flour)
- 125g milk
- 1 egg
- 50g butter or margarine (melted)
- 25g sugar
- 50g sultanas (soaked in water)
- ½tsp salt
- ½tsp cumin
I simply put everything in the bowl and used our electric mixer. The mixture was a bit soft but I left it to rise for an hour or so before knocking it back and re-kneading it. After the second kneading, the mixture was a bit firmer and easier to handle.
I shaped the dough into a disk, cut some 'spokes' and left it to rise again. Instead of baking in an oven, this bread is cooked in a covered frying pan.
I don't recall having cumin in a sweet recipe before and it works well, probably because there isn't much and the flavour isn't too strong. The bread is a bit like a hot cross bun. If mixed spice mixed fruit/mixed peel was used, it would be difficult to tell the difference between them.
The food market was back in Victoria Square so I went again to see what was available. There was a new Turkish Food stall which I hadn't seen before so I decided to get my food from there and used the random number app to choose off their menu. I had a spicy chicken wrap which was well filled and tasty.
I actually made these a few weeks ago but didn't get around to writing it up at the time. The flatbreads are like a cross between a crumpet and a galette style pancake.
Traditionally they are made using Teff Flour which appears to be naturally gluten free. There are several versions of the recipe which use a mixture of plain flour with some gluten free flours so I decided to try my own version. Originally I used a cup of plain flour with 2 tablespoons each of the other flours but the mixture came out a bit stretchy after fermenting so the version below has the amounts adjusted to reduce the amount of wheat flour to make the mixture less stretchy.
- ½ cup plain flour
- ½ tbs fine cornmeal
- ½ tbs buckwheat
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1.5 cups water
Whisk everything together, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, take the batter out of the fridge and allow to reach room temperature.
Heat up any lightly oil a frying pan. Spoon in some of the mixture and spread to form a thin pancake.
When it has cooked on one side, flip it over to cook the other side. Continue until all the batter has been used. To serve, return one of the pancakes to the pan, add the filling, roll up and reheat.
A few weeks ago I went to the food market in Victoria Square and randomly chose which stall to get my lunch from. I ended up at the vegan burger one. I thought I'd try the pulled-pork style Jackfruit Burger. The 'cheese' was a bit strange but the burger itself was ok.
I did the same thing today but the first roll of the virtual dice selected the coffee van so I tried again and ended up with a tray of filled dumplings. They were nice but the best part of the meal was the crunchy chilli sauce which had crushed nuts in it.
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It has been far too long since I posted my last new recipe. I decided to try a sweet steamed bun recipe and tried to find something suitable on the web. I avoided any American recipes which mostly used mixture of 'all purpose' and 'cake flour' and found a recipe taken from a Ken Hom book. I decided to use half the quantities for my initial attempt.
For the sweet filling, I found a recipe for baked Honey Buns which sounded good. This recipe called for dessicated coconut which had been powdered in a food processor. Since we have coconut flour, I tried using that.
Since coconut flour abosrbs a lot of moisture during cooking, I reduced the amount (¾ of a cup instead of a full cup of dessicated) but the first test run came out too dry. I removed some of the mixture, added extra honey and oil and the egg white, to make the mixture softer and wetter, but the final version was still a bit too dry inside. The recipe for the filling is still only approximate since I don't know how much flour, honey or coconut oil ended up in the final mixture.
Making the dough
- 90ml warm water
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 190g plain flour
in a mixing bowl. Mix to a dough, knead for a few minutes then leave to rest while preparing the filling.
Mixing the filling
- ½ a cup of coconut flour
- 6 tbsp honey
- 4 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 egg, beaten
The resulting mixture should be soft and slightly wet. This actually makes more than you need for the amount of dough.
Assembling and cooking
I divided the dough into 6 pieces, flattening them out and placing about a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of eIach. After folding the dough up and crimping to seal the top, I sat each bun onto a square of baking paper.
I used our Instant Pot to cook the buns. To make sure it was warmed up and ready, I poured boiling water into the bottom of the pot and pressed the sautee button while the buns rested and rose for about half an hour.
I cooked the buns using the Steam setting at low pressure for 15 minutes.
The bun texture came out ok and the filling tasted good. Apart from the filling going a bit dry (which I mentioned earlier), the recipe worked well.
I have done a few more Lunchroulette dinners this year which I didn't blog about at the time. In approximately chronological order, they are:
Chicken Fillet Sandwich Meal
The randomly chosen meal type was Burger and I rolled a 10 on the computer generated dice. I picked a route at random and walked towards the city centre, counting the burger places along the way. I ended up at Love Chicken on the High Street. I chose a chicken fillet sandwich meal (I can't remember the exact name for it but it was slightly spicy chicken fillets in a bun).
This was a pub lunch with some collegues from work. I used the random number generator to pick a panel from the menu then an item from the panel. I ended up with the full rack of ribs. Good but huge.
Chicken and Chips
I regularly walk past Big John's take-away but this was the first time I had gone inside. It was nice to get proper chippy style chips instead of the thin french fries which most take-aways do. Two pieces of chicken and a box of chips turned out to be a lot more food than I expected.
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For the letter 'B' I decided to do a version of a traditional Bulgarian Christmas loaf. I had originally intended to make it over Christmas but I didn't find time to do any baking, and since we had lots of cakes and chocolates to eat, we didn't really need more bread.
(For the bread)
- 2 cups of bread flour
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2 eggs
- 50g softened butter
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
(For the glaze)
- 1 tsp of honey
- a few drops of water
Mix the water and honey a few drops at a time until the honey is a pourable consistency.
I put all the bread ingredients in our food mixer, with the dough hook, and let it mix for a few minutes. Since this a brioche type bread, the mix was very wet and a bit sticky, which made it difficult to handle and shape.
I broke the dough into equal weight pieces, rolled them into balls and put them in a round tin to prove.
After they had risen, I carefully brushed them with the honey mixture. It was baked in a pre-heated oven (gas mark 5) for half an hour. I started it off covered in foil, but took the foil off after the first 15 minutes.
Verdict: a soft slightly sweet brioche with a honey flavoured crust. Definitely one to try again.
I went back to the German Market again and picked a random stall to buy my lunch. This time it was one of the Pretzel stalls. The salami pretzel sounded good so I bought one of those.
The pretzel was pretty much what you expect: soft, chewy and very salty on top. I had change left so I thought I would try a dessert next. The choice of desserts was reasonably wide and included pancakes, sweets, cakes, marshmallows or chocolate coated fruit kebabs. The dice took me to a marshmallow stand.
I chose an orange and a gingerbread one. The marshmallow is softer and stickier than the sort you get in bags, and sits on a small waffle or wafer-like disc.
The German Market is in full swing in Birmingham and I am still using the random number app to choose my lunch.
The dice took me to a schnitzel stand which offered a choice of different meats. I let the dice decide and came away with a chicken schnitzel. I also got some chips to go with it.
I had asked for the mushroom sauce and I think they gave me the curry sauce but it was still good, and went well with the schnitzel.
Half metre sausage
The choice was a bit easier this time. The dice chose the half-metre bratwurst stand so I didn't have any extra choices to make. I didn't let the dice choose my condiments, I added half ketchup and half mustard.
The sausage was fine but the bread was a bit chewy. Although it looks a lot of food, I still felt hungry afterwards.
This was another 'make room in the freezer' baking session. I had more grated pumpkin in the freezer, along with some 'shop damaged' bananas (6p for a bag). I defrosted them and made two cake mixes. My idea was to pour them in opposite ends of a baking tray, giving the middle a swirl so the ends were one type of cake and the middle had both combined.
The original recipe was based on the pumpkin cupcakes. I beat together 175ml of vegetable oil, 3 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then divided the mixture in two.
In one half I added the pumpkin cake ingredients (but using cranberries instead of sultanas):
- 85g golden caster sugar
- 100g of grated pumpkin
- 50g cranberries
- 1 tsp cinnamon with ½ tsp of mixed spice
In the other half I added
- 85g of drinking chocolate powder, with an extra tablespoon of sugar
- 100g mashed banana
- 50g sultanas
Both halves also had
- 100g self raising flour
- ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
I poured the two batters into a 10x6 inch tray. I expected the cakes to take about half an hour at gas mark 4 but it was well over ¾ hour before the middle stopped being liquid.
When the cake had cooled, I made a lemon juice icing, slightly runny so I could drizzle it over the top.
I took some of the cake to work to share (since that was where the hot chocolate powder came from, it was only fair to do that). People seemed to like it - I got favourable comments from people, someone even noticed that I had used an oil based recipe. Both cakes were definitely worth doing again.
The German Christmas Market returned to Birmingham last week. We popped out for an inaugural pint or two when it opened but this week I decided to get some food. Instead of using the Wheeldecide website, I used a random number generator app on my phone to choose which of the many food outlets to choose.
I found myself in front of a chalet-style take-away which had a range of different menu items all based around burgers, potatoes and mushrooms. Instead of letting the dice choose how much I ate, I went for the full menu since I didn't want to end up hungry.
The garlic sauce was a bit too strong but the meal itself was good, as was the wheat beer.
Earlier this year I was watching Saturday Kitchen and they were showing one of the many regular clips from Rick Stein. This was from a series he did in Eastern Europe and it gave me the idea to try to do another alphabetical cooking challenge. I intend to take each letter of the alphabet and cook something from a country or region beginning with each letter.
Originally my plan was to cook a meal but we were recently at a barbecue where the husband was Algerian and his family had provided most of the food. There was a yellow bread which went down really well. When I got home I looked it up and found some recipes.
Khobz El Dar: Algerian Semolina Bread
I took inspiration from a recipe from food.com but I reduced the quantities a bit. Since the bread we ate didn't have seeds on or in it, I left those out.
My bread took a long time to rise (I think there were problems with the yeast) and the bread had a slight sourdough taste to it. I had baked with semolina before but this was the first time I had done a bread which was mostly semolina flour. My version wasn't as good as the one we had at the barbecue but it was my first attempt. If I try again, with fresher yeast, it might come out better.
When we scooped out the pumpkins to make Halloween lanterns, I grated and froze the flesh so I could try cooking something with it. The pumpkins which are sold for lanterns are usually a lower quality and aren't recommended for eating so I thought I would start with something where the pumpkin isn't the main flavour, so I could probably get away with a lower quality ingredient.
I found a recipe for cupcakes. It was pretty much a carrot cake but using pumpkin instead of grated carrot. The recipe called for grated orange zest but I didn't have an orange so I left that out.
I tried one of the cakes last night, when they were still a bit warm. It tasted ok but that was before I had made the icing. Tonight's cake, with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting, was definitely an improvement.