Jan 292012

Pasty served with home-made canned baked beans

This week’s Short and Tweet Challenge was a dream recipe for me. That’s because it gave me the chance to use so much home produced or foraged ingredients.

The recipe was for Dan’s Spinach and Ricotta Pasties. A gorgeous ricotta/mushroom/spinach/garlic/chilli/oregano filling is encased in a tomato & cheese dough.

I changed the dough recipe slightly by using all wholemeal spelt flour. This was to intensify the colour and because I love the nutty/wholemeal taste of spelt. The dough was very easy to handle and Dan’s quick 10 second kneads make light work of it.

I had great fun with the filling. I was able to use my own dried chillies and oregano both preserved from the 2011 harvest. Instead of ricotta I used brocciu I made from goat’s milk that I first used in this chestnut ravioli. Instead of the spinach, I used foraged nettles that I’d frozen from last year.

Pasty ingredients: brocciu, lemon zest, mushroom mix, hazelnuts, nettles
In addition to those ingredients, I added 75g of toasted and chopped hazelnuts for taste & to give some crunch to the filling. Finally, I thought the mix could do with a little lift and so added the finely grated rind of an unwaxed lemon.

I was delighted with the combination of flavours. The pastry was thin and crisp and with a lovely cheesy edge from the parmesan. The filling had complex flavours, which blended together beautifully. The nuts and lemon really lifted the filling from good to excellent.

The pasties are incredibly filling. This may be partly because I used a wholemeal flour for the dough. I think you could easily make these pasties into smaller buffet size ones and make double the number of pasties. This will be a firm favourite in our house from now on.

All I needed to serve with it was some home-made (and home canned) baked beans. Make these, they are delicious.

Cut open nettle & brocciu pasty


 Posted by at 19:53
Jan 212012

Spelt, ginger & cardamom cookies

This is the latest in the Short and Tweet Challenge.

I just love using spelt in baking. I add it to yorkshire pudding batter, shortcrust pastry and love it as a percentage in my sourdough bread.

We’d made these cookies when we first got Dan’s book and loved them. This time I had a look in Niki Segnit’s wonderful Flavour Thesaurus for ginger companions. To my delight, cardamom came up as a perfect partner. I have a bit of a thing for cardamom as my rhubarb polenta cake recipe testifies.

So we added half a teaspoon of ground cardamom to the recipe. It gives a subtle warmth and complexity to the biscuit and partners well with the tea or coffee accompaniment.

The only other change was to omit the 50g of caster sugar. We haven’t got hugely sweet teeth here and it worked out just fine.

Definitely a cookie recipe to save, they are dead quick and easy to make for when those guests arrive at short notice (you lot in Kent know who you are!)

 Posted by at 19:50
Jan 152012

Cider vinegar muffins, with poached eggs and chickweed salad
I was very keen to have a go at this week’s ShortandTweet Challenge as one of the recipes was for these muffins. And that meant I could use our hens’ eggs in the recipe and the cider vinegar I had made earlier in the year. A bonus was the chance to incorporate some foraged salad garnish for the 52 Week Salad Challenge as well.

The recipe for the muffins was a doddle. Mix the dough the night before and keep in the fridge. Then take the dough out in the morning, allow it to warm up and cook away.

I was short of time (and hungry) so I abbreviated the process that Dan had written in the recipe. I took the dough out of the fridge and folded it. I then scaled and shaped the dough straight away into 9 muffins which I allowed to prove in a very low oven for a couple of hours.

Cooking the muffins in a frying pan was a first for me. It was a bit fiddly to do, so the first muffins were a little misshapen. Batch 2 and 3 went much better.

Cider vinegar muffin, crumb shot

The colour of the muffins is striking. In Dan’s book the muffins are pearly white. Mine have this glorious saffron hue. I think this is due to the eggs from our free-ranging chickens. As you can see from the picture at the top, they have striking yellow yolks.

Cider vinegar muffins close up

The muffins taste just great. They have a nice crisp exterior and a soft interior which is just ideal for soaking up egg. I’m looking forward to some toasted for breakfast tomorrow with some cranberry and orange jam I made the other day.

The chickweed salad came from some chickweed that we had picked 2 days ago. It was washed and keeps very well in the fridge. It’s a great foraged vegetable with a really good taste. To see what other stuff I have in the garden available to me see this earlier post on January pickings.

All-in-all a very satisfying lunch indeed.


 Posted by at 15:10
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 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 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
Oct 262011
 Posted by at 20:28
Oct 242011

Chocolate & almond fudge cake

This is a chocolate & almond fudge cake that Debs made from Dan Lepard’s fantastic new book Short & Sweet for the Short and Tweet Challenge.

It’s beautifully light and moist and yet richly chocolatey. A sophisticated tasting cake that would be an ideal dinner party stunner. It’s also great as a treat for a wet & windy day with a cup of tea.

Buy the book: make the cake.


 Posted by at 15:27
Sep 112011

Cinnamon Orange Brioche SliceThe smell of this bread when making, baking and eating is heady. It’s redolent of warm summer evenings in Morocco with spicy orange & sweet cinnamon. You’ll be hard pushed to leave it once it’s out of the oven for the crumb to mature. I think it must be mildly addictive.

I came by the recipe by a lucky accident. I ‘met’ Carla Tomasi on twitter and we started talking food & bread. Lucky for me because Carla is a former chef, restauranter and all round generous good egg. Even luckier for me because Carla is based over 2000km from me in Rome and we would never have had the chance to swap recipes if not for Twitter.

Carla’s brioche recipe is legendary amongst her friends and rightly so. She tells me that it originally came to her from a Swede living in Spain. So it’s truly an international recipe and Carla is keen for it to be more widely baked. So she kindly agreed to me posting it here.

The bread is lovely just sliced and by itself, butter is an additional bonus and it’s wonderful lightly toasted. Most brioche doughs have huge amounts of butter in them, this recipe has only a small amount for less fat worries.

Would you like to smell and taste this beautiful brioche? Read on…

Continue reading »

Aug 142011

Muesli BarWhen my son was a third of the size he is now, I wanted to be able to feed him a healthy snack bar. Most of the commercially available ones were stuffed full of sugar and/or additives. So I decided to invent my own.

My son is 16 now and much bigger and the recipe has gone through a few improvements. It’s naturally sweet, warmly spicy, and it’s got crunch & give.

It is filling. Ideal for a quick morning get-away, an afternoon snack or evening treat, it’s packed full of healthy ingredients. And you can add chocolate too…

The ingredients are infinitely variable depending on what you prefer, or have in the storecupboard. And even better, it’s a very quick and simple recipe to put together. And the cup of tea is included…

Fancy a go? Read on… Continue reading »

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