Nov 262011
 

Amaretti, garlic, chilli

I’ll confess that I wasn’t planning to blog this recipe. However, the reaction of friends on twitter and the team here was so good that I had to share. And that’s why there isn’t a fab picture of the cooked dish: it got eaten before the camera could record it. Sorry.

I wanted to cook something special as a celebration meal for Debs’s birthday. She had chosen mutton and I had a nice piece of leg from the folks at Field & Flower. I wanted to do something quite different with it. We love Moroccan style food and I was thinking of chermoula spices, dates and almonds. However, I did not have enough almonds to hand,  so I wondered if some amaretti biscuits would fit the bill. They did. And how.

The taste is a glorious mix of warm sweetness and spice with a tangy almond edge. It’s rich and full and combines beautifully with the earthy sweetness of the mutton. The marinade would work equally well with a shoulder of lamb, slow cooked beef , chicken or game. In fact, I had lots spare and used it as a dip for the grilled tiger prawns we had to whet the appetite.

Do you want to know how to make this? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:07
Nov 172011
 

Apple, almond and date cake with spices and spelt flour

This cake is so simple and stunningly satisfying. It has a crunchy top and moist inside. The flavours are pleasingly complex with spicy sweet/tart apples contrasting with rich toffee-like roasted dates. The spelt flour and almonds give the cake a substantial nutty body.

It tastes great warm straight from the oven or cool later on. We like it a lot and have been known to eat it for breakfast.

The recipe originates from my mother-in-law who is a superb purveyor of cakey delights. She gave me the recipe for a German Apple Almond cake that we’ve been enjoying for years. I thought I take that basic recipe and give it a twist. I hope she approves.

It really is a doddle to make. Would you like to know how? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 21:27
Nov 102011
 

Like many English people, I have a love affair with Corsica. It’s partly because of this:

Corsica Mare et Monte

Corsica has a fantastic blend of  Mare et Monte: sea and mountains. It’s why I live  in North Wales, to be with môr a mynydd. But Corsica smells different too: it has the maquis. The maquis is a mixture of fragrant shrubs and herbs that lead Corsica to be called The Scented Isle.

Corsica is also famous for growing and using the fruit of the sweet chestnut tree. Some of the nuts are converted into flour and Corsican cuisine is famous for how it uses this: in a type of ‘polenta’, pancakes, flans, muffins, cakes and pasta.

I loved eating in Corsica and resolved to get a cookery book. It just so happens that the Corsican cookery book is written by an Englishwoman, Rolli Lucarotti. She sailed to Corsica in the 1970s with her husband and baby daughter. She fell in love with Corsica and, like many English people, now lives there. Her book is called Recipes from Corsica. It’s a great read and insight into a unique cuisine that has developed separately from that of it’s French & Italian invaders.

This recipe Rolli calls Panzarotti incu brocciu: cheese ravioli. The pasta is Pasta di castagna: chestnut flour pasta. Brocciu is called The Prince of Cheeses and is the Corsican national cheese. It’s like an Italian ricotta but made with sheep or goat’s milk, so it’s good for the lactose intolerant. Since I had a method for making ricotta, I thought I could make a close replica of brocciu. And I have now found a source of organic chestnut flour.  The recipe calls for calamint (calamentha nepeta) which my friend Carla Tomasi had recently sent to me from Rome where she calls it mentuccia. The recipe also needs eggs & chard. Our chickens produce eggs and we grow chard, so I was in business to make this wonderful dish. Want to know how? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 13:30
Nov 062011
 

Olive oil and potato flat bread in chunks
This is the second weekly Short and Tweet Challenge based on Dan Lepard’s new recipe book Short & Sweet. This olive oil and potato flatbread is crisp and flavoursome on the outside and moist & chewy on the inside.

Amongst the bakers taking on the Challenge, there’s been some discussion about flour types and handling techniques. Also some discussion on twitter about how using oil during the handling of the dough can make it a bit oily for some tastes. And some more thoughts here on the nature of flatness of flat bread and Lou’s difficulties with trying to save some to give to the family here.

I found the dough with its added grated potato only marginally more difficult to handle than my normal focaccia dough.

It’s definitely not as tricky to handle as a full-on ciabatta dough I think.

My sourdough ciabatta

I’ve heard Dan joke about people following his recipe to the letter: “Except… except… except…” I made one change in handling the dough and added some flavouring to the top to match the dish I was eating the bread with.

We really enjoyed the bread. On the day it was made and the day after too. The potato really does make a pleasantly moist crumb.

Get the book for the recipe. I used Shipton Mill’s Organic Ciabatta flour and No 4 Baker’s flour.

Olive oil and potato flat bread prior to baking salamoia applied
I made a salamoia for the topping. Salamoia is Italian for ‘brine’ and is an emulsion of extra virgin olive oil, water and salt. It’s designed to give a nice crisp crust and moist interior. I added crushed fennel & coriander seeds to match the flavours of the cold slow roast pork I served it with.

To handle the dough, Dan recommends the use of oiled hands and dough. While I did the handling in an oiled bowl I used wet hands and a wet dough scraper to handle the dough and so I suspect did not end up with such oily dough as other Challengers.

A great recipe and a nice introduction for me to use the potato in the dough. One of the reasons I like Dan’s books is because he leads you through different techniques in very gentle ways. Now I have made this, potato is one of the ingredients I can add to my repertoire and experiment with.

 Posted by at 14:31
Nov 042011
 

Fig, fennel, coriander & bay jam

As you can see, the figs produce a wonderful colour and texture. The fennel gives a lovely background warmth with the bay. The coriander provides generous light bursts of flavour.

The story behind this jam is that I had the good fortune to receive a present of a jar of fig, vanilla and ginger jam from my friend Lyndsey. It was delicious and I was keen tomake some fig jam myself.

I didn’t want to repeat Lyndsey’s creation (as if) and so wanted to come up with something different. I consulted one of my jammy-mentors Vicky at JamSmithClub. She suggested partnering it with fennel and bay as a seasonal combination. The idea was excellent as I have my own bay and have been drying my harvest of fennel seeds. In my spice drawer the coriander seeds are next to the fennel and they partner very well so I used some of these too.

I consulted my copy of Thane Prince‘s Jams & Chutneys for sugar, acid & pectin quantities and cracked on. Here’s what I did.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 13:53
Nov 022011
 

I wanted to do another post about making sourdough bread. Since my first How To Make Sourdough post and the Update, I’ve learnt quite a lot and continue to do so.

Miche made with wholemeal and swiss dark flour

I’ve now got more experience handling different flours and doughs. I’ve tried different ways of developing the dough, folding, kneading and no-knead.

What I now have is a method that I’m pretty happy with and which produces a consistently good loaf for our daily bread. It’s a bit different from what I used to do. I’ve been asked quite a lot now for my normal method which I’ve emailed to people. One email recipient, Carla Tomasi, suggested that the method would make a useful blog post and encouraged me to sort it out. So here it is.

Before I start, just to say this post will just cover the ingredients and method. I’ll leave the explanations to another post for those that are interested. So if you wanted to print this off, there will not be loads of extraneous information. I hope that’s ok.

Want to have a go? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:03
Nov 012011
 

Ethiopian honey wine, T'ej in a bottle

I’ve just racked this heady concoction into a wine box and some bottles and had my first taste. It’s just gorgeous: fragrant, rich, heady and aromatic. It’s such a simple and quick wine, I’m quite shocked we all don’t make more of it.

It’s another of the delights I found in Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to my own ends and to fit my own incompetence. It’s still substantially the same wine that’s been made for centuries.

I wonder who was the first person to find wild honey fermenting in a tree? Did they get a surprise when they tasted it and it was alcoholic? Did they remember what happened? And who eventually worked out how to reproduce the effect?

So if you have a go at this, you’ll be continuing a line of tradition going back millennia. Interested? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:59
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