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Haggis, neeps and tatties cakes 26 January 2012

Posted by cath in comfort food, freeze-friendly, Recipes, specials, variations.
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Leftover Haggis and the works from Burns night? Make sure to make the most of your leftovers. Here’s an idea for eating up leftover Burns supper ingredients.
Just like fish and potato cakes, similar Haggis, neeps and tatties cakes are great.
If you have plenty of leftover mash, here’s what to do:

Haggis cakes

Add crumbled haggis to leftover mash, I think it helps the binding to keep the mixture at least 50% potato, but any leftover neeps or other root mash can also be added. You shouldn’t need seasoning as the leftovers will have been made with salt and pepper already. Mix everything well.
Shape the mixture into small, flat cakes. Pat each side with white plain flour. Leave, shaped and floured, in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up making them easier to fry.

I’m making these tonight so the finished dish photo will come later, here are the haggis cakes ready to go in the fridge.

image

To cook, shallow fry in a little oil (haggis and mash are already fatty so you don’t need a lot) until browned on both sides. Flip just once if you can, by giving the first side a good 5 minute sizzle. Flip over carefully as they can break up… this is where a rest in patty form can help.

Serve up with some fresh rocket leaves for a fancy supper or just some ketchup or brown sauce for real comfort food!

Here, the finished dish

image

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Moroccan Tagine with Lemon, Olives and Potatoes 31 January 2008

Posted by cath in Fish, freeze-friendly, ingredients, mildly spicy, Recipes.
5 comments

This is a recipe I made a few times, and each time I forget to photograph it. Oops. I’ve now made it with some monkfish, and with chicken (thighs/legs – skin, bones and all), lamb or mutton works a treat, and is definitely my favourite. I also tried mutton and aubergines and it worked really well.

I have never been to Morocco, but apparently this tastes authentic (and of course really delicious!).

I tend to add plenty of vegetable to my meals, and this tagine can also have other ingredients added to it. Try adding spinach (just stir in plenty at the last minute and heat until wilted) or baby carrots (added for the last 8-10 minutes of cooking). Try other seasonal vegetables as well.

For the charmoula I borrowed a recipe from Rick Stein’s Seafood and made some amendments, particularly to the amount of chilli – but this is still a mild dish. For those of you who like it hot, I’ve also added a cheating harrissa style sauce which is easy and quick to make. Use it to add some extra chilli flavour to your dish and/or plate – it also makes a great dip for bread or pita.

Serve the tagine with some couscous, one idea for that is at the bottom of the page.

Here’s my latest picture – this was the left overs, nicely stored away for later in the week – and it tasted great a few days later. Mutton and Aubergine Tagine:

Mutton and Aubergine Tagine
Tagine, topped with Harrissa and Toasted Almonds

Couscous and Pita Bread

Couscous and Homemade Pita Bread

Ingredients

Stew base:

1-2 large onions (red or white), sliced finely
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 inch piece of ginger, finely shredded or grated
1-2 sticks celery, finely sliced (optional)
1 stick cinnamon
6-10 good quality tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use 1 tin of plum tomatoes)
1 handful of dried fruit (prunes, apricots or whatever you prefer), finely chopped
1 pint of fresh stock
1 glass dry white wine
Lemon rind from 1 lemon, finely shredded
6-8 queen green olives (stoned), roughly chopped (plus a few extra to serve with the dish)
8 new potatoes, or small waxy potatoes – washed but left whole (if possible)
1/2 can chickpeas (optional)
bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
handful toasted flaked almonds (make extra for the couscous too)
1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Charmoula:

3-4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 red finger chilli, roughly chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (remove rind and reserve)
1½ tsp paprika
pinch saffron strands (optional, but will give a good colour)
pinch salt

Harrissa:

(should make you enough to have some left over as a dip!)

4 red finger chillies, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1-2 lemons (reserve the rind for couscous)
4 tbps extra virgin olive oil

Meat or Fish

This makes a large stew, good for 6-8 people. You will need about 600g fish, or 1-2 chicken thigh (or leg) per person or about 1kg of lamb or mutton (shoulder cut into large chunks) – up to you!

Method

  1. Sweat the onion, celery, garlic and ginger in some olive oil, long and slow until very soft but not browned.
  2. While the base is cooking slowly, make the pastes. Blend all the ingredients for the harrissa in a mini-processor or similar. It should be a thin paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Set aside.
  3. Then blend together all the ingredients for the charmoula – use the same processor, no need to wash out. Again this will be a thin paste. Taste, adjust seasoning and set aside.
  4. Add all the charmoula paste to the pan with the cinnamon stick and a few spoonfuls of harrissa (to taste, adding heat, garlic and lemon). Stir well and let fry for a minute.
  5. Add the raw meat (chicken or lamb) now and stir round in the charmoula to cover. (For fish, just add the fish later to gently cook through before serving).
  6. Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, lemon rind, dried fruit and half of the chopped olives bring to the boil and simmer gently with the lid on.
  7. Add the potatoes and simmer for the final 40 minutes.
  8. You will need to simmer the dish for at least 40 minutes to get the flavours to blend and cook the potatoes. Then add the chickpeas and heat through.

You will need to adjust the total cooking time depending on your choice of meat or fish: chicken thighs or legs on the bone (approx. 40mins-1 hour); stewing lamb or mutton (3 hours or more); large chunks of monkfish (10-15 minutes at the end after the potatoes are cooked).

After the meat or fish is cooked, remove from the heat.

Sprinkle over the other half of the olives, coriander leaf. Serve with a wedge of lemon, the harrissa, olives, pita or other fresh bread and some couscous.

Couscous:

A very simple, tasty and gorgeous looking couscous dish:

350 ml chicken stock
300g couscous
rind from 1 lemon, finely chopped or grated
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
20-30g toasted flaked almonds (toast in a dry frying pan and be careful not to burn them)
Chopped dried fruit, e.g. apricots, prunes, sultanas etc.
handful chopped mint
handful chopped coriander
rest of the can of chickpeas (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the stock until boiling then pour in the couscous and the lemon rind. Stir and remove from heat, covering with a lid or foil. Leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid, fluff up the grains with a fork.
  3. Return the couscous to the heat, drizzle over olive oil and chickpeas. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Fold in almonds, fruit, herbs and season with some harrissa to taste.

You can reheat the prepared couscous again in the microwave or in the oven, but it’s best to add some fresh herbs at the end to liven up the flavours again.

Pita Bread:

A very simple, quick and tasty pita bread:

1/2 tsp dried yeast
150g white (strong bread) flour
100g wholemeal (strong bread) flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
150 ml water

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients together. I use the pizza dough setting on the breadmaker (this is a 45 minute program consisting a 10-15 min knead, 10-15 min rise, then another 10 min knead and 10 min rise – so probably easy enough by hand for those who want to try that).
  2. Divide the dough up into 4-6 balls, roll them out into oval shapes of about 5 mm thickness. I’ve been told the secret is to make sure you roll them out on both sides – this ensures they puff up to create the classic pocket.
  3. Prove for 8-10 minutes (I have also left them longer and that’s been fine, or put the dough balls in the fridge overnight to use the next day).
  4. Bake in a very hot oven (220 degC or higher if you can) for about 6-8 minutes and serve immediately.

You can reheat them, but they can easily crisp up a bit too much, which is why I prefer to reserve some dough in the fridge to freshly bake with any leftovers.

Hope you enjoy my Moroccan feast! If you have a breadmaker, check out the pita bread, or flatbread recipes. They are very quick an easy and go really well with this dish.

P.S. comments as usual are welcome – particularly any mistakes, or anything you don’t understand.

Preparing the Charmoula

Making the Charmoula

Bowl of Harrissa

Bowl of freshly made Harrissa

(chilli, garlic, lemon and olive oil)

A quick snap of my chicken tagine – unfortunately not a particularly well presented dish that time – and I’d already started tucking in…

Quick Snap of the Tagine - before it was all gone!

Chicken, Vegetable and Olive Tagine, with Couscous and Pita Bread

**NEW**

Print the text of the ingredients and recipe: Moroccan Tagine (Opens a .doc file).

Thai Curry Pastes > Green Curry 3 February 2007

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, very spicy.
2 comments

There seems to be some more interest in Thai food again, and I guess this is as good a time of year as any to have a special treat of some imported ingredients. Check out your local Thai or Asian supermarkets for the specialty items, substitutions are OK too – so it depends how authentic you want to be.

Here’s my recipe, adapted from a traditional Thai recipe from Chiang Mai Thai Cooking School (Chiang Mai, Thailand). I would definitely recommend making your own green curry paste – and this is a slightly unusual and delicious recipe. You can make the paste in bulk and freeze it in portions (for up to a year in a modern 4* freezer), it takes an hour or two to defrost and is then ready to use. However, if you want to skip the paste, buy a good quality Thai brand of paste (I’m afraid I can’t recommend any in particular as I always make my own) and skip straight to the curry recipe.

This makes 1 large portion of paste, for curry serving 4-6. I usually triple or quadruple the quantities here and blend it all together in a small food processor. If you really want an arm-muscle workout and to be 100% traditional you can pound the ingredients together in a large pestle and mortar until smooth.

Check out my notes via the hyperlinks if you need to know more about the Thai ingredients, how to recognise them and prepare them.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 inch galangal (ginza) – skin removed and chopped
  2. 2-3 stalks lemongrass – lower 1/3 only (that’s the thickest, juiciest part), chopped
  3. The zest (peel) from 1 kaffir lime (ordinary lime will also be fine) – chopped
  4. 2 tbsp chopped coriander stalk and root – you can sometimes get some root on bunches of coriander, else just use lots of finely chopped stalks
  5. 3 Thai purple shallots – chopped (use 1-2 small European shallots as a substitute)
  6. 2-3 cloves garlic – crushed
  7. 1 tsp shrimp paste (leave this out for veggies!)
  8. 1-2 inches fresh turmeric – skin removed and chopped (or use 1 tsp turmeric powder as a substitute)
  9. 1/2 tsp coriander seeds – roasted until browned, then ground
  10. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds – roasted and ground
  11. 20-40 small green birds-eye chillies (depending how hot you like your curry)
  12. 20g sweet basil leaves (about 5-6 large stalks)
  13. A pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper

Method:

Blend the ingredients for about 10 minutes in a small processor, scraping down the sides occasionally to get a smooth paste (or longer by hand with a pestle and mortar).

Now its time to make up the curry

 

 

A note about roasting dry whole spices:

It’s worth ‘roasting’ the seeds to release more flavour.

Do the coriander seeds first, they are bigger and will take longer to brown. Do the cumin seeds separately, else some may blacken whilst the coriander is yet to brown.

Do not use burnt seeds in the recipe – chuck them away and try again!

Place the seeds in a dry frying pan or wok on low heat and shake occasionally. They will gradually brown – be careful not to leave them as they will burn.

Coriander seeds may take up to 20 minutes. For cumin seeds 5-10 minutes should be sufficient.

As they are ‘roasting’ they should start smelling more aromatic and slightly darken in colour, however this can be hard to tell – especially with cumin seeds, so watch them carefully lest they blacken.

You can grind all the roasted seeds together in a pestle and mortar once they’ve cooled.

Thai Food > Green Curry 3 February 2007

Posted by cath in freeze-friendly, ingredients, Recipes, thai curry, Thai food, very spicy.
6 comments

Perhaps the most well known Thai curry in the UK. I have a slightly different recipe which recreates the hot, spicy, sweet and sour curry without as much salt as many shop-bought pastes.

Green Curry

I’ve adapted this recipe from the one I learned in a Thai cooking school. It’s interesting to note that it is not the usual recipe you see in books, the special ingredient we were taught to include in the curry paste is Thai Sweet Basil. This is a good time of year to pick up some imported items for a change – if only to avoid another portion of cabbage!

Gaeng Kiawan Gai
(Green Curry with Chicken)

Serves 4 with steamed rice as a lunch or dinner, or more as one dish in a traditional meal
Ingredients:

  • 300-500g chicken (breast works very well in this dish, but use whatever you have) – thinly sliced
  • 750mls coconut milk – separated into thick and thin (you can do this by putting a tin in the fridge and then it’s easy to pour the thin coconut milk out – the thick milk will solidify at the top of the tin)
  • 80g (3 tablespoons) home-made green curry paste (2 tbsp of bought paste)
  • 5 apple egg plants – cut into quarters (do not do this in advance as the egg plants will brown)
  • A handful of small, pea egg plants – removed from their stalks
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves – torn into pieces, discarding stem
  • 1 big green chilli – sliced
  • 1 big red chilli – sliced
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • A handful or two of Thai sweet basil leaves

Method:

  1. First, heat up the oil in a pan. Then add the green curry paste and fry for about 4 minutes until the paste is cooked.
  2. Then add most of the thick coconut milk and mix in until you form a thick, smooth curry base. If your home-made paste is a bit coarse, you can liquidise this mixture to create a smoother look.
  3. Now add most of the thin coconut milk. Stir and heat to combine. (This part of the curry base can be made in advance and then left to cool until required.)
  4. Bring the curry base up to a simmer and add the thin chicken slices. Keep simmering gently for about 5 minutes until the chicken is nearly cooked through. As long you’ve cut the chicken strips thinly, this shouldn’t take too long.
  5. Cut and add the apple egg plants and bring to the boil again, simmer for about 4 minutes more.
  6. Add the pea egg plants and simmer again for a few minutes.
  7. Then add the fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves, stir and heat through.
  8. Turn off the heat, transfer into a serving bowl (if required) and garnish with big chillies, basil leaves and dash of lime juice to taste.

For a fancy finish: add a swirl of the leftover coconut milk by re-combining some thick and thin coconut milk in a small cup, pour some into the centre of the serving dish then quickly and gently stir to create a swirl of white against the green base.

Serve with fresh steamed Thai fragrant rice

Variations

Fish, prawns or beef all work well in the green curry. All meats and fish can be cooked in the same manner, with some variation in cooking time:

  • Beef steak, cut thinly can be used much like chicken, or cooked for even less time as you prefer.
  • Prawns take a very short amount of time and therefore should be placed in the curry sauce last, for 1-2 minutes to cook.
  • Monkfish is excellent in this dish, and needs less cooking than meat, add the chunks of fish about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Other white fish also works well.
  • Left-over roast meat (beef, chicken etc.) can also be used, just thinly slice and add to the sauce for 1-2 minutes to heat through at the end.

Pork benefits from a 30 minute pre-cook in thin coconut milk, see the panang recipe for more details.

Add other vegetables as well as or instead of Thai aubergines.

Vegetarian options:

Green curry makes a good vegetarian option, although you will have to miss out the fish sauce and replace this with soy sauce for strict vegetarians. Also make sure you miss out the shrimp paste from the curry paste.

Try different combinations of vegetables, depending on the time of year:

Baby corn, mange tout, courgette, purple aubergine, carrot, potato, cauliflower.

Basic Recipes > Sourdough Bread 11 January 2007

Posted by cath in bread, freeze-friendly, Info and Cooks Notes, Recipes, specials, variations.
1 comment so far

Here’s a new bread recipe for the new year.

 Sourdough - Toasted

Sourdough Toast

 

Sourdough Experiment 1 – Prooving slowly in the fridge for 3 days.

This is something I’ve been meaning to try for a while – sourdough.

I’ve read that this is best made by using a small piece of dough kept wrapped in the fridge from the last batch of dough and kneading it into the next. Now, I haven’t got that far yet, although a small ball is currently fermenting in the fridge for the next sourdough experiment!

Meanwhile I tried a long, slow proove of half of my weekly dough batch to see if I could get a slightly sourdough effect. I was very pleased with the results.

Here’s what to do:

Day 1: Make a large batch of your favorite dough. I made two loaves with this amount of dough – 1 for immediate use, 1 for sourdough, so each loaf was 300g baked in a small bread tin (otherwise I would freeze the extra dough for use another time).

Try this mixture for 2 small loaves (cook one and keep one to try sourdough):

300g strong wholemeal and 300g strong white flour, 1.25 tsp dried yeast, 1.5 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp milk powder, 1.5 tsp salt, 420 ml water and 3 tbsp walnut/olive oil mix (instead of butter) with 4 tbsp pumpkin, 2 tbsp sunflower and 1 tbsp linseeds). See my bread recipe for other options and more details. For full instructions in making dough see this post.

Now for the new stuff… Prooving dough overnight in the fridge makes the loaf a slightly different texture, so I wanted to experiment with that effect.

Dough does rise in the fridge (albeit slowly), so put the dough in a medium bowl (at least twice the size of the dough ball), covered with oiled clingfilm (oil-side down) and leave it in the fridge overnight.

Day 2: In the morning, the dough should had risen, so push it back down into the bowl – effectively knocking it back and removing the air. Then place back into the fridge. Repeated that in the evening and again in the morning of Day 3.

Day 3: Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (use bread flour again) and knead it for a minute by hand to remove the air bubbles. Then push the dough ball into a flat, roughly rectangular shape the length of your bread tin. Roll it up like a Swiss roll and place in the oiled tin.  This should gives a perfect size and shape to fit the bread tin.

Replace the oiled clingfilm loosely and put it back in the fridge for 4 or 5 hours (minimum) where it will slowly take shape. Remove the bread from the fridge to warm up to room temperature and finish prooving before banking, this will take an hour or two –  don’t let it puff up too far. Once it has shaped, put it in a pre-heated oven (at least 210 deg C) for about 20 minutes (longer for larger loaves) until it is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

The bread should be dense and heavier than a typical loaf. It should also keep a little better.  It will also freeze well (try cutting slices to freeze so you can toast straight from the freezer). It makes lovely, crispy toast too. Hope you enjoy – and lookout for experiment 2 with my fermenting ball of dough…

Baking Tip:

For a crispier crust on the base and sides, try removing the bread from the tin for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time – excellent if you’re checking the bread for hollowness and it’s not quite done.

Prooving Help!

Accidentally left your dough to rise and puff up too much in the tin? Don’t panic! Just push it back in, removing all the pesky air bubbles and then wait for it to reshape again…just try to check on it more regularly to avoid it going too far. Your aim is always to double the size of the shaped dough that you put in the tin. The great thing about dough is that it doesn’t mind the odd hiccup, it will just need time to rise again.

Basic Recipes > Roast Tomato Sauce 21 November 2006

Posted by cath in easy, freeze-friendly, vegetables.
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Roasted Tomatoes

Roasted Tomatoes

 

Adapted from a recipe by Hugh F-W, I’ve skipped some of the more fastidious bits – namely the sieving of the seeds and skin from the roasted tomatoes. Honestly – you can do it either way, but I hate waste and have never been bothered by the taste of the whole tomato. This recipe is so quick and simple, you should try it.

The sauce can be quickly made into a multitude of sauces – add lightly fried onions, wine and some stock and you have an instant rich tomato sauce for pasta, add extras like sliced chorizo, olives, extra garlic, a handful of mixed herbs, chillies, anything you like…

You can also add this sauce to many different dishes including meat bolognese, chilli-con-carne, soups. Finally, it makes a pretty good ketchup for burgers or bangers and mash.

I’ll often stick in a tray whenever I’m using the oven, and freeze or refrigerate the sauce for use in other dishes.

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degC.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into halves and fill up a baking tray (or two), placing them closely packed, cut side up, in one layer (don’t stack them).
  3. Sprinkle over some pepper, salt and a teaspoon or so of sugar (especially if you’re using late crop tomatoes – they will be less sweet naturally)
  4. Now roughly crush and chop a couple of cloves of garlic (to taste) and sprinkle them on top.
  5. Finally, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil carefully zig-zagging across the tops of the tomatoes…be careful not to pour on too much, just a fine trickle will do!
  6. Place in the oven for 45 minutes until browned then remove.
  7. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes then deglaze the pan – two options for this, either:
  • Remove the tomatoes and deglaze with a glass of white or red wine, stock or water – boil up the liquid and scrape off all the caramelised residue in the tray then reduce down and add to the tomatoes – you can use a hand blender to very gently break up any large tomatoes or chunks of garlic (but don’t blend smooth as this will break the seeds and produce a bitter flavour).

or…

  • For those who are even more pushed for time, you can actually deglaze the pan with the help of a glass of liquid (wine/stock/water) by just crushing up and heating the tomatoes in the pan all in one go – once the pan’s deglazed the tomato sauce should be thick and slightly caramel in colour.

Ready to Roast

Tray of Tomatoes – Ready to Roast

 

 

Roast Tomato Sauce

Roast Tomato Sauce

Spicy Tomato Pasta with Homegrown Chillies 22 July 2006

Posted by cath in easy, freeze-friendly, mildly spicy, Recipes, summer, variations, very spicy.
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I’ve been growing chillies in the hottest, sunniest window of the house. Yesterday was finally time to try the first fruits.

I’ve got a mixture of red, purpley and still green chillies on the plant, so we tasted a bright red and a green one.

 

chillies fresh from the plant

homegrown chillies

 

An easy dinner, variation on the basic tomato sauce: Spicy Tomato sauce, this one has chorizo, chillies, basil and a ewes milk Parmesan style cheese:

Close up of finished dish

spaghetti with spicy tomato and chorizo sauce

 

First make your basic tomato sauce with 5 or 6 tomatoes per person.

Once the tomato sauce has cooked for an hour, put on the spaghetti in a large pot with plenty of boiling water.

Use about 2 chillies per person, or to taste. Two of my fresh homegrown chillies were sampled – very hot and fiery with a lovely fresh taste and amazing smell, 4 of these in 2 portions gave a pretty spicy dish). The red chili was hot but mellow and slightly sweet, the green chili was slightly hotter and fresher, more zingy in flavour.

You’ll also need a handful of basil, some grated Parmesan-style cheese, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. I’ve also used some chorizo, but this is optional.

 

  1. Finely chop the chillies – seeds and all if you want it properly spicy, add it to the sauce on the heat and continue to cook until the pasta is cooked
  2. Roughly chop the chorizo, if using
  3. One the pasta is cooked, drain it and return to the pan with some olive oil, swirl together
  4. Turn off the heat from the sauce, add chorizo, basil and stir through
  5. Serve the pasta, top with sauce and a sprinkling of cheese and a grind of pepper

Spicy Tomato Pasta

The finished dish

 

Tomato and Basil Sauce for Pasta 5 July 2006

Posted by cath in easy, freeze-friendly, Recipes, variations, vegetables.
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Tomato Sauce, perhaps the most wonderful thing you can do in the kitchen! Tomatoes are in season right now, so go and buy some and try this!

Pasta and Sauce

Tomato and Sausage sauce with Pasta

garnished with Basil leaves and grated cheese

 

How to make a basic tomato sauce:

Step 1, buy some good quality tomatoes – preferably from a local source, not the supermarket – honestly they will taste much better. I recommend J & M Craig, Carluke, available from the Castle Terrace Farmers Market in Edinburgh.

Step 2, roughly chop the most ripe tomatoes, skin, seeds and all. For 2-3 people you’ll need about 500g – scale the recipe up or down as required, it keeps well in the fridge or freezer.

Step 3, roughly chop 1 large or 2 small onions and a few cloves of garlic.

 

Cooking:

  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onions and sweat down on a medium heat until translucent.
  3. Then add the garlic and cook for about a minute.
  4. Now add the tomatoes, stir and cook for a minute or two until they start to soften.
  5. Once the tomatoes are hot, turn down the heat and half-cover the pan.
  6. With the heat on very low, stirring occasionally, cook for about an hour (minimum) until the sauce has thickened and sweetened. Turn off the heat.
  7. Now add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Finally, throw in some chopped fresh herbs, basil or parsley are excellent.
  9. Serve with pasta and top with some grated cheese (Parmesan style)

 

Final adjustments:

If the sauce is too runny, try boiling it down without a lid until you get the desired consistency.

If the sauce is quite thick, add a few spoons of the water you use to cook the pasta in, again, keep going until you get the consistency you want.

Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil into the sauce at the end for a slightly richer flavour.

If you’re fussy about tomato skin and pips, you can use a sieve or press the finished sauce to remove them, but I think the chunky texture works well and saves loads of time!

 

Variations:

As well as the classic tomato and basil, you can combine many different things into this sauce. It also works as a base for bolognese, chilli con carne or anything that needs a bit of tomato sauce.

Add a bit of fried pancetta, cooked sausages, sliced chorizo or salami or anything meaty for a quick meaty pasta sauce (see picture above).

Add mushrooms (fried or cooked in the sauce), spinach, other vegetables, more herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram for veggie pasta sauces.

Add chillies – I hope soon to be adding my homegrown chillies to the sauce for a bit of a kick…, olives, capers, anchovies…the list is endless.

Try your favourite ingredients…use something different every time. Dinner never got so easy!

 

Tip!

Get some really good quality dry pasta – macaroni, penne, spaghetti, spaghettini, linguine, whatever you like. The best pasta is rough on the outside, rather than smooth (which is a quality of mass production).

Basic Recipes > Bread 16 May 2006

Posted by cath in bread, freeze-friendly, Recipes, variations.
5 comments

Basic Bread Recipe

I tend to make small loaves that fit well into my 2lb bread tin from Lakeland. The quantity is roughly 400g flour plus the other ingredients.

Ingredients:

1/2 tsp easy bake yeast

400g strong flour (a particular type for breadmaking)

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

15g butter or 1-2 tbsp oil

water at room temperature: 280mls for 100% white, up to 300mls for 100% wholemeal loaves

Optional ingredients
1 tbsp milk powder

1-4 tbsp wheatgerm (best when using white bread flours)

Seeded or Nutty Breads

up to 5 tbsp mixed seeds, such as sunflower, linseed, pumpkin, sesame, poppy

1-2 tsp cumin, caraway, fennel or other strong flavoured seeds

up to 50g walnuts, finely chopped

Other Variations

You can also add dried or fresh herbs, curry powder or pastes, fried onions, sundried tomatoes. Try your favourite ingredient in bread and share your experiments with us here.

Prepare the Dough

Mix and knead the dough – how to do this and other tips

Lightly oil the bread tin all over, place the prooved and knocked back dough into the tin and leave to rise into a full loaf.

To Bake

I recommend a fan oven temperature of 210 deg C, that's about 230 degrees in a conventional oven. Also as you heat up the oven, put a tray of water in the bottom, this produces a better crust, less blackened by the heat.

Cook your bread loaf for 25-35 minutes until browned and crusty on top. It should come cleanly out of the bread tin and sound hollow on the base when tapped.

Loaf of Bread

All about making Bread 12 May 2006

Posted by cath in bread, freeze-friendly, general info, help, Info and Cooks Notes, ingredients.
10 comments

InformationWith easy to use, dried yeast sachets, everyone can make great bread at home. The only other things you’ll need are: a quality stoneground strong bread flour (White, Wholewheat, Granary or a mixture), salt, sugar, butter or oil and water. You can add seeds, nuts, curry pastes, dried fruits, herbs, anything you like really to the basic dough.

Loaf of Bread

Homemade, Stoneground White Bread with Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds

At the moment I’m using a very good bread machine (Panasonic, Sd-253) – although, you may be surprised that I don’t cook my bread in the machine. I use the dough only programs. Bread looks much better and gets a lovely crispy crust if you bake it in a bread tin the oven – no matter how you make the dough.

Making Bread Dough…
If you want to make your own bread dough, there are several options:

  1. You can knead it by hand – this is actually not hard to do as you have to be rough with bread so as long as you give it a good 15 minutes of stretching, folding, turning, thumping, squishing, rolling and whatever else you like, it should be fairly happy.
  2. You can use a dough tool or hook in a food processor – simply add the dough mix, along with water at room-temperature (this is crucial) to the processor and letting it knead the bread for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Use a bread machine – in this case you are best to follow the instructions in the guide book. Some machines offer a dough-only option, so you can set them up to make the dough for you whilst you’re at work. The machines include resting periods, kneading and the dough can be left in the machine to rise slowly after the program has finished.

Of course, in the bread machine, you can just let the bread bake as well. However, adding the extra prooving and maturing time, and turning the bread out to bake in the oven produces a far superior result.

The longer prooving time gives a better texture and you may be surprised at the weight and substantial feel of the resulting loaf.

Tip # 1: Let dough rise slowly, you can proove bread dough at room temperature, or even in the fridge overnight.

Preparing for baking…
Once you’re satisfied with the prooving, it’s time to knock the dough back – this just means to pummel and throw it about a little to remove all the air bubbles, then kneading again a little. It only takes about 5 minutes and if using a machine to make the dough, that’s all the hard work there is!

You then simply shape the bread into a fat sausage, put it in the bread tin and dust with seeds (optional) and a bit of flour.

Leave the bread to rise and fit into the tin – usually you want it to double in size. The rate at which this happens depends on the temperature, but leaving it for a few hours at room temperature in the kitchen is usually sufficient.

Pre-heat the oven to a very hot temperature, 210 deg C on my extra hot fan oven seems to do the trick (up to 230 deg C in an electric oven). Place the bread in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes.

It should be brown, cripy, and fall out of the tin when ready. To check it’s cooked through, tap the base – it should sound hollow. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Tip # 2: Put a tray of water in the base of the oven to improve the loaf crust during baking.

A timetable for making bread…
Option 1: Start making this bread in the morning, place ingredients in the bread machine, start and leave to make Dough but not bake the bread. Get on with the day’s activities. In the afternoon/evening turn out the risen dough onto a floured (use strong bread flour) worktop. Knock the dough back, shape and place in a lightly oiled bread tin. Leave, uncovered on the worktop (away from draughts) for about 1-2 hours. Pre-heat the oven, bake for roughly 30 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack overnight. Perfect for eating in the morning.

Option 2: Start making this bread in the afternoon/evening, place ingredients in the bread machine, start and leave to make Dough but not bake the bread. In a few hours, the dough will be ready. Turn out into a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge overnight. Remove the risen dough first thing in the morning and allow to warm up a little. Turn out onto a floured (use strong bread flour) worktop. Knock the dough back, shape and place in a lightly oiled bread tin. Leave, uncovered on the worktop (away from draughts) for about 1-2 hours. Pre-heat the oven, bake for roughly 30 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting. The bread should be ready to eat by lunchtime.

Other options: The bread can be left to rise for longer in the fridge – for example overnight and the next day. Make sure you use a large bowl to allow the bread plenty of room to expand.

Storing Bread…

Homemade bread does not keep fresh for long periods like store-bought sliced loaves. Wholemeal breads tend to go stale quicker than white breads as well. Best to store them in a bread bin. I also use a cotton bread bag to store bread inside the bin. The crust will soften after storage, which is why leaving it out overnight to cool keeps the crust crisp. Once cut into, bread will quickly stale.

Freezing bread is a good option. Freezing a whole loaf is a good idea if you eat a lot of bread. Freezing slices is better if you only need the odd bit. The slices defrost quickly or can even be toasted straight from the freezer.

Another option is to refresh your bread from the tin. Wrap in foil and place in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes to recrisp the crust and improve the texture of bread that has softened and begun to stale. Of course, slightly stale bread toasts well. Also use up stale bread by processing to crumbs and storing in the freezer – can be used in many recipes.

Recommended Flours

Wholemeal Flourspacer.gifGranary Flour

Tip # 3: Look out for stoneground bread flours from local mills, the flour is much more nutritious and produces high quality, nutty flavoured bread.

How much bread to make?

One 400g (weight of flour in dough) loaf makes a medium loaf easily makes 4, two-slice sandwiches, and several slices of toast or some breadcrumbs.

I usually make 1 loaf on Monday for lunchtime sandwiches Tuesday/Wednesday and possibly Thursday. Then to for a change, I’ll buy a loaf from the market on a Saturday morning (usually Sourdough as that’s a challenge I have still to face in breadmaking!)

You can make larger loaves, just the same method – maybe adding a little extra cooking time for a very large loaf.

Alternatively, make a large batch of dough and use it to make 1 loaf and a number of small rolls (shape, allow to proove again and bake for around 10 minutes in the oven). The extra dough for the rolls can also be kept in the freezer until required before prooving and baking. Similarly, made dough for loaves can be frozen until required.

Tip # 4: Cold and frozen dough will take much longer to proove. It needs to warm up to room temperature first before it really starts to increase in size. This just means a longer wait, which is why you may prefer to bake and then freeze any extra bread for use another day. If you are using frozen dough, take it out of the freezer in plenty of time – defrosting it and bringing it up to room temperature may take up to 24hrs.

Warning: Once you’ve started making bread, nothing you can buy in the supermarkets will ever be good enough again! However, you can get good quality baked bread from small bakeries, farmers markets and health food shops as well, so you don’t have to bake all the time!