This is based on another recipe from the Oat Cuisine book. Again, I followed the recipe fairly closely but ended up increasing the amount of spice since the meal tasted a bit bland using the original amounts. I cooked it in a pressure cooker since whenever I cook lentils, they don't usually cook down soft enough for my liking.
I started by frying 2 diced red onions, 2 chopped peppers, and a couple of cloves of garlic. I then added 2 teaspoons of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
I then added 50g of porridge oats, 175g of pinhead oats and 1 litre of water, and simmered for half an hour. Next I added 225g of lentils (a mixture of red and green), a teaspoon of stock granules and a teaspoon of chilli flakes, and put the lid on the pressure cooker and cooked for a further half an hour.
The original recipe called for raisins and nuts to be stirred in just before serving. We decided to leave out the fruit but to add mixed seeds instead of the nuts. Unfortunately I forgot to add the seeds but the end result was still good. The lentils had cooked down soft and the pilaf had a slightly porridge-like texture. We served the pilaf with a piece of seeded breaded fish.
I might use a similar technique the next time I try to cook tarka dahl but I will probably need to buy the right kind of lentils first.
The inspiration for this meal came from a book called Oat Cuisine, published in 1985. The pancakes batter was made using a mixture of plain flour and rye flour with porridge oats added. The original recipe called for skimmed milk but I used semi-skimmed with some chicken stock added. A couple of eggs went into the mix too.
The pancakes were fried for a couple of minutes on each side and put to one side until they were all cooked. Then we filled them with a mixture of shredded chicken and cream cheese, with parsley, paprika and cayenne pepper. The pancakes were filled and rolled up before being sprinkled with grated cheese and popped in the oven for a few minutes.
While we were eating them I thought they were a bit similar to Staffordshire Oatcakes. I looked up a few recipes and there are a few differences (no eggs in the Oatcake recipe and the oats were more finely milled) but the basic idea was the same.
Oat pancakes stuffed with chicken, with melted cheese on top, served with potato wedges.
My sourdough bread making experiments are continuing and this week I had a go at this recipe, which sounded interesting. I scaled it down a bit since it called for more starter than I had, and I only have a 400g loaf tin.
My scaled down recipe contained:
- 250g plain flour
- 30g rye flour
- 280g starter
- 1tsp turmeric
- zest of 1 orange
- juice of 1 orange (came to 70g)
- 20ml water
I did not need to add much water since my starter was quite runny. The original recipe called for '75% hydration' starter but I have no idea what the 'hydration' of mine is, since I add flour and water in a fairly irregular manner without keeping track of the exact amounts of each. This is the first recipe I have used which specifies a particular hydration of starter - equal weights of flour and water give 100%, which is how mine started off but over the weeks it will have changed quite a bit.
I deviated from the original recipe with the proving and rising steps too. Instead of putting it in the fridge for 9 hours, I left it in the cold oven overnight. The weather has recently turned cold again and the kitchen temperature is around 18c, significantly lower than the 23-25c specified.
I baked the loaf for about half an hour at gas mark 7 (equivalent to about 250c). The texture was good, with a hard crust on top and soft underneath. The orange flavour came through quite well but the turmeric was less noticeable. The only other times I have made spiced bread has been when I put chilli flakes in a pizza base. I will have to experiment with other spices and flavourings.
A couple of weeks ago I made a German Friendship Cake which was used a sweet yeast based starter. After making the cake I gave a portion of the starter to my mum so she could have a go at making it, and kept the rest of the starter going by repeating the feeding and stirring process.
I had read somewhere that the starter can be used to make pancakes. Since today is Good Friday, and the end of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to have a go at making them, so that Lent started and ended with pancakes.
I poured a few tablespoons of the starter into a hot oiled frying pan and cooked for a minute or so on each side. The pancakes started to bubble nicely and looked quite promising while they were cooking. The end result wasn't quite as good as I was expecting, they were still a bit doughy in the middle. I added a bit more milk to the mixture and gave it a second attempt.
The plain pancakes were a bit sweet but they went well with a bit of lemon juice. I didn't get the cooking time or temperature sorted properly since each pancake was still a bit soft in the middle. It was an interesting experiment but I will stick to the traditional pancake batter in future.
Just over a week ago I exchanged sourdough starters with a colleague in work. I gave her some of my wild yeast starter and in return I was given a tub of Herman starter.
The Herman starter mix is made using flour, sugar, milk and yeast. Unlike the traditional bread starter, which ideally should be fed every day, the Herman starter is only stirred each day and fed on the 4th and 9th days. The feed consists of equal quantities of sugar, milk and flour.
On the 10th day, the cake is ready to make. Take 1 cup of starter and add all the other ingredients, mixing well to make a stiff batter. As usual, I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house at the time. I used:
- 1 cup of sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups of plain flour
- ⅔ cup of vegetable oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 medium sized apples, chopped but not peeled
- 1 cup of dried mixed fruit
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp of mixed spice
- 2 tsp baking powder
I poured the mixture into a couple of loaf tins and sprinkled them with demerara and a little melted butter. I then covered them loosely with foil before baking them at gas mark 4 (180 °C). One of the cakes was ready after an hour, the other was in a deeper tin and took nearly twice as long.
The apples help to keep the cake nice and moist. I think it would work just as well with pears, and possibly using apricots instead of the mixed fruit.
Last year I bought a pack of seeds from Garden Organic at Ryton. It was described as 'Edible Leaves, Roots and Shoots' and contained a collection of wild plants which are commonly described as weeds but which are edible. I planted the seeds in a tub in the garden and last year I made some crispy seaweed from some of the leaves, and managed to save some Wild Mustard seeds from one of the plants which grew.
I left the plants over the winter but yesterday I decided to dig them up so I could reuse the tub for a more productive crop this year. I found two large roots:
This plant turned out to be Wild Carrot. I washed the root and had a chew on a small piece. It was very tough and fibrous but did have a slight carrot taste.
It took a bit longer to identify this but I managed to work out that it was Common Mallow. This is a relative of the Marsh Mallow, which gave its name to the soft and fluffy sweet. It is possible to boil the roots to extract a gelatinous substance which could possibly be used to make a version of the original marshmallow so today I decided to give it a go.
I peeled and chopped the root then simmered it in a small amount of water. I then whisked the slightly gloopy water with some caster sugar, vanilla essence and pink food colouring. The mixture was a bit runny and kept splashing everywhere so I cheated by whisking in some cornflour and returning it to the pan.
The end result was a soft sweet tasting jelly which did not resemble an actual marshmallow sweet at all.
Earlier today we finished watching the Indian Doctor, which is a BBC TV programme which was on every day last week. I don't know why the BBC decided to show it during the day on weekdays, when it would be much more suitable as a Sunday evening show, and would almost certainly have higher audiences. At least there is the iPlayer on-line catch-up which let us watch it without having to bother setting the video.
The series features Sanjeev Bhaskar as the eponymous doctor, working in a Welsh mining village. The second series covered a smallpox outbreak in the village and features a lying hypocritical preacher, fresh from work in Africa, who tried to hinder the doctor at every step. I can almost imagine the Daily Mail newspaper working itself up to a fury over the storyline with its pro-vaccine and anti-christian sentiments.
The Daily Mail seems to be the UK representative of the American right wing, being very pro-christian and anti-science. The paper regularly contains stories dismissing global warning and sneering at any scientists who believe in it. It is also very favourable towards alternative medicine even when there is no evidence to support it, and regularly espouses the benefits of 'detox', even though the latter is based on myth and lies and is no better than simply eating healthily for a while.
At least the paper doesn't appear to have joined the anti-vaccine movement though. A quick search of vaccine related stories on the website all seem to be in favour of vaccines to prevent disease. For that we should at least be grateful.
When I was younger, a muffin was a small bread roll which was usually split and toasted and eaten as a savoury food. These days when you mention a Muffin, the first thing people thing of is the overgrown cupcake, and the old-fashioned muffins of my childhood is now called an English Muffin.
A couple of weeks ago I was given a link to this recipe and yesterday I finally found time to make some. I followed the recipe as closely as possible, making the first part of the dough on friday evening and adding the salt, honey and baking soda on saturday morning, along with some extra flour to give it more of a doughy texture.
The muffins were left to rise for about an hour before being baked on a pizza stone at gas mark 7 for about 10 minutes. Since the muffins are best when they have a flat top and bottom, I found out that the best way to cook them was to start them off flat side up (in other words, turning them upside down when transferring them from the tray to the stone), then turning them over again after a couple of minutes, before the top starts to bulge.
The first muffins were eaten while still warm, as an egg sandwich for brunch. The toasted buttered muffins shown above were eaten for lunch today.
I thought I was also have a go at making a sourdough pizza base, instead of my normal method which used bread yeast. The dough was made with ½ a cup of sourdough starter, 1½ cups of plain flour, a couple of tablespoons of yellow cornmeal, 2 teaspoons of sugar, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil (to make a change from our usual olive oil). I left the dough to rise for about 5 or 6 hours.
The pizza here was topped with red pesto, red chillies, chicken, grated cheese and mozarella. The base was nice and soft but it's not clear whether that was due to it being sourdough based or whether it would have been a nice soft bready base anyway.
The Charterhouse, the remains of a 14th century priory just outside Coventry city centre, was open to the public today. The Charterhouse Preservation Trust is trying to find a use for the building which keeps it available for the public. City College had tried to sell the building but when it was bequeathed to the city it was supposed to be used for public education. There is more info on the BBC News website from last year with an update from earlier this week.
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Today is Pancake Day (or to be more traditional, Shrove Tuesday). Our pancake tea consists of Curried Chicken pancakes for main course followed by a couple of dessert pancakes which vary depending on what we have in the house but nearly always includes a traditional lemon juice and sugar pancake. This has been our tradition for at least the last 6 or 7 years.
The pancake recipe has varied but the one we usually do now came from Delia Smith's website and is fairly reliable.
In the past we have often used a tin of chicken in white sauce and added some curry powder but this year I cooked it from scratch by finely chopping 2 chicken breasts and frying them in a little oil. I made a thick roux and added curry powder, cayenne pepper and a little turmeric before stirring in the cooked chicken. The pancakes were filled with a couple of tablespoons of the chicken curry mixture then sprinkled with grated cheese before being rolled up and rapidly eaten.
We shared three dessert pancakes this year. They were filled with chocolate coated raisins, traditional lemon juice and sugar, and golden syrup.
I first tried making sourdough a couple of weeks ago but the results weren't completely successful. It tasted ok but the starter didn't rise very well and the resulting bread was quite dense. Shortly afterwards, the starter had begun to smell a bit vinegary so I decided to throw it away and start again.
I took inspiration from a couple of sources, including River Cottage and the Baker Brothers TV series. The starter consisted of half white bread flour, half spelt flour mixed with an equal weight of water. I dropped a grape into the mixture to provide the wild yeast. I fed the starter with flour and water every day (a tablespoon of each).
After a couple of days the starter was bubbling away nicely so I removed the grape and carried on feeding it, alternating using spelt flour and white flour. After a week, it was ready to use.
The recipe I followed had 300ml of starter, 500g of flour, 200ml of water and a generous pinch of salt. I used slightly less water since last time, the mixture was very sloppy. I left the dough overnight to rise, and cooked it this morning for just under half an hour at gas mark 8.
The resulting bread was much better than my last attempt. It was still fairly dense but had a better texture. I will try to remember to keep feeding the starter and over the next few weeks I'll try some different variations, including a sourdough muffin recipe which I read recently.
Our semi-regular trip to Pizza Express for St. Valentine's Day.
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We finally finished the tub of mascarpone today. I made the pasta bake on monday. The sauce was based on a small quantity of Heston-style cheese sauce with half of the mascarpone mixed in, along with one egg. I added fried veg, diced chicken, and cooked macaroni (from about 300g of dried). Everything got mixed together and put in a pyrex, sprinkled with mixed seeds and grated cheese, then baked in the oven for about 40 minutes.
We have 2 pyrex dishes and if we make a pasta bake to fit the larger of them, it is enough for 4 portions so it lasts us for 2 days. We had the second half today.
The final last bits of the mascarpone were actually eaten with a chocolate eclair for pudding, after we got back from the shops. The eclairs weren't planned. They were reduced at M&S because they had reached their sell-by date.
We bought a big tub of mascarpone the other day which means we have had to find enough ways to use it before it starts to go off.
The first use was nice and straightforward: We dolloped a bit on a toasted hot cross bun.
Today I made a chicken and butternut squash risotto following the standard risotto method: I fried some diced squash, finely chopped leeks, garlic, and a pinch of dried chilli. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but when we have a glut of chillies, I make my own dried chilli. I slice the chillies in half lengthways then put them on a sheet of kitchen roll in a small metal tray, which I then put on the radiator for a week or so. I then smash the chillies up using a small food processor.
Back to the risotto. After adding the chilli I added risotto rice and home made chicken stock. When the rice was roughly half cooked, I added some diced cooked chicken and a generous pinch of salt. When it was all fully cooked I added a generous heaped tablespoon of the mascarpone and stirred it in. The risotto was very rich and creamy and the mascarpone seemed to help keep it fairly firm, instead of going sloppy which can sometimes happen when I use ordinary cream cheese.
Tomorrow I will make a pasta bake. The mascarpone and a beaten egg should hold the pasta together well so it doesn't collapse too much when I serve. I will find out tomorrow.
A couple of days ago I had a go at making Heston's cheese sauce. The big difference between his recipe and a traditional one is that you don't start with a roux. The sauce base was white wine and chicken stock, instead of milk. The wine was reduced then the stock was added and heated. The cheese was finely grated then mixed with cornflour before being stirred into the wine/stock mixture.
The end result was a very smooth sauce but the stock flavour was a bit too strong. I will experiment further but next time I might use milk and wine or milk and stock.
My next new recipe was a sourdough bread. This was based on the recipe from the Fabulous Baker Brothers TV series. I made the starter last week using spelt flour, and fed it each day with a bit more flour and water.
I made the dough yesterday and left it to 'prove' overnight before baking it this morning on the pizza stone at gas mark 8. For a first attempt I am reasonably happy with the results. Since the starter was fairly young, the 'sourdough' flavour was quite light but it was a good loaf. I have just realised that this is probably the first loaf of bread I have made completely on my own.
Next time I might make the dough a bit stiffer since I think this one was a bit wet and sticky. The bread had a big hollow bit in the middle, like a giant pitta bread, so we sliced it in half horizontally and made a fried egg sandwich for our breakfast.