Jan 012014
 

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When I saw on twitter that my Twitter chum Julia Moore had:

Decided adding culture to some of our freshly pressed apples would be one experiment too far

I was intrigued and showed her my Bouza bread beer experiment post. Despite my references to ‘vomit’, Julia changed her mind and took up the challenge.

I’m so pleased Julia did this and her guest post below charts her progress. A second post will show how she used the remains from the cider fermentation to make a cider barm bread.

Julia says:

I hope this little experiment encourages someone else to have an idea and then just have a go 🙂

Precisely the attitude I promote on this blog! To find out more, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:19
Nov 172013
 

Close up of posy in pottery jug

November Posy

The weather forecasters are promising a drop in temperatures and frosts next week. This will put an end to some of the flowers still soldiering on in the garden, giving their all. We are usually lucky here: we live on a peninsula and so we’re surrounded by the sea; our frosts are mostly light and often late.

I took the opportunity to keep the summer going just a little bit longer and brought some of those flowers into the house.

Tussie mussies

My mum taught me how to make tussie mussies when I was little and I have continued to make them. I make them as a ‘thank you’, for birthday and anniversary presents, to mark the birth of a baby or just because…

I tightly pack and bind flowers, herbs and foliage to give a posy which will delight the eyes and nose.

Collecting and arranging my bounty

I wandered round the garden and collected my bounty. I was amazed at the variety that was available. I always put a single flower in bud at the centre and found a romantic pale pink rose for this.

Posy overhead viewThen I picked the rest of the ingredients: four stems of each. I found mints, rosemary, lavender, thyme, periwinkle, pinks, lemon balm, oregano, Japanese parsley, winter honeysuckle, winter jasmine, camomile, mashua, creeping borage, Californian poppy, yarrow, brassica flowers and fennel. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.

When the weather is warm I make the posy outside and often have bees land on the flowers I have picked. On this occasion it was too cold to stay still outside so I brought my goodies indoors.  I stripped the leaves from the bottom of the stems and then, starting with the rosebud, began tying in the stems. There is a symmetry to the posy as each group of stems are added in turn. Finally I put an outer layer of fennel stems to finish it off.

Usually when I make these posies, I am more discerning about what goes into them – a colour or scent theme or such like,  but this was to extend the summer and had a bit of everything in it.

Porth Llwyd Jug

Posy in pottery jug

I will change the water every day in the little jug it sits in. I love the jug, it’s gorgeous and a gift from Porth Llwyd Pottery from my friend Nina. The posy should last for 2-3 weeks by doing this and in this little corner of North Wales we will still have a little bit of summer.

What do you do to keep summer going in your house?

 Posted by at 19:06
Oct 202013
 

Apple custard cake Parisienne, slicedToday is the day to celebrate the wonderful variety and bounty that apples give us.

To help us celebrate, here’s a list of some of my favourite recipes.

Apple recipes

Apple cider vinegar
A doddle to make, very healthy for you and lots of fun. You can use damaged apples, or scraps. So this is a great way of using every apple you have.

Blackberry, apple & chilli chutney
Beware, this is addictive. You use two of the season’s great fruits. The more you make, the longer you can enjoy.

Apple, almond and date cake
One of my most favourite cakes courtesy of my mum-in-law. With some great examples of other people’s results from this recipe.

Apple custard cake parisienne
Crispy, spicy, custardy. It’s a joy to eat.

Apple wine
And what better way to celebrate than with this easy to make wine recipe?

I hope you like these, What’s your favourite?

 Posted by at 09:16
Oct 042013
 

Orange & coffee liqueur: bottle & glass
Delightfully simple to make: satisfyingly complex to taste.

That sums up this grand liqueur which you could make now and enjoy over the festive season. If you can bear to part with some, it’d make an ideal present for a very special person.

The aroma of the brew is what a perfect sunset should smell like. Dark, roasted coffee spice punctuated by rich highlights of orange. You’ll relax & delight in its changing complexities.

The recipe is my adaptation of the one that appears in Niki Segnit’s brilliant book The Flavour Thesaurus. I highly recommend the book which is both fun to read and very useful. Niki credits the idea to American culinary guru Patricia Wells.

I was very lucky to have a supply of slightly bitter oranges from my foodie friend Carla Tomasi’s garden in Italy. These will help – but are not essential. Use the best quality oranges you can find. I used vodka this time, but will definitely try the brandy & rum versions.

Read on for the recipe… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:28
Aug 182013
 

Home made vanilla essence
This is so simple to do, you’ll wonder why you ever spent the money on the shop stuff.

The picture shows my 500ml bottle of vanilla extract. Here’s how I make it…

Method

Take 6 to 8 vanilla pods and split them with a sharp knife, leaving them just attached at one end. Pop them in your cleaned bottle.

Top up the bottle with standard vodka.

Shake when you remember for 6-8 weeks.

When you’ve used about a third to a half, top up with more vodka, shake the bottle.

Uses

  • Use as directed in the recipe (like this courgette cake)
  • In cake, muffins, ice cream, custards and other sweet goods
  • It goes well with chocolate, coconut and coffee
  • It likes spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
  • It complements chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts
  • All kind of soft fruit are improved with it
  • A bottle makes a great present for the foodie/baker in your life

I’ve bought my vanilla pods from Vanilla Mart.

 Posted by at 13:55
Aug 142013
 

Courgette cake

What to do with all those courgettes now that we’re having a summer at last?

Here at Legge Towers, the courgette harvest is ‘extensive’. Not surprising as we have eight plants for the fruit and six for the flowers… And the flower producing plants also produce some fruit too.  So I had a good trawl of the Internet courtesy of our favourite search engine and tweaked things to put together this recipe.

Courgettes help produce a moist, light and gently green-flecked cake. Some spice & orange zest makes the cake warm, zingy & cosy.

The method is an absolute doddle. You can have the ingredients put together in 20 minutes.

Fancy a go? Read on for the recipe…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 13:40
May 152013
 

Guanciale cross section view
Guanciale is the perfect preserved pork. It’s wonderfully versatile & tasty, easy to make, economical to buy & use and looks brilliant. What’s not to like about that? You can see what I made in the picture above: I’m so pleased with the result.

Guanciale means “pillow” in Italian, the reason should be obvious. My first taste was courtesy of my friend and Italian food mentor Carla Tomasi who sent me some from Rome. It was a revelation with a deep porky taste. It’s good raw, as a seasoning or a major ingredient in many dishes. When I got the Italian dry curing book Salumi for review (see here), I first searched out the recipe for guanciale. It’s ridiculously simple. The authors say it is:

…one of the most magical of the Big Eight cured cuts [and] some of the finest and most versatile salumi…

At the end of February I was fortunate to meet Huw Roberts of Oinc Oink our very local award winning pedigree Welsh pork producers. At their stall Huw had brought along some pig cheeks on the off chance that they might sell. They did.

I rushed home and got out my copy of Salumi. If you want to find out how to make your own guanciale, please read on…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:24
Apr 112013
 

Potato soda bread with cheese, garlic & thyme
Kaethe from SPUDS (The Sustainable Potatoes United Development Study!) in Ireland said:

Cheesy, garlicky soda bread made w/blight resistant Blue Danubes sounds fab, but where is the recipe? Any new take on soda bread ROCKS for us Irish, especially if it incorporates SPUDS…Send a link pronto!

Who can resist a request like that? Not me 🙂

The Blue Danube potato are a part of a selection of potato varieties I am trialling for the far-sighted people at the Savari Research Trust who are developing these highly blight resistant potatoes. These potatoes are more sustainable to grow because they do not need the frequent chemical treatment and other energy dense maintenance of conventional varieties.

As you can imagine, that’s a tough gig. Specially as I’m trying to come up with some novel recipes too.

This bread is almost addictive. The potato in it makes the bread moist and tender unlike many soda breads that can seem hard and dry. The mixture of cheese, garlic and thyme makes it wonderfully savoury. It’s great as it is; slathered with good butter; toasted and topped with a fresh poached egg or eaten with (leek & potato) soup.

If you want to find out how to make it, please read on…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:06
Apr 022013
 

Evernote Camera Roll 20130322 220654

I love the way Twitter works. In particular how ideas get propagated: across the world in an instant and inspiring new networks of enthusiastic people. And also how physical things are shared too.

This kefir bread is the result of both such things. My apologies for the pics – they’re taken quickly on an iPhone and the bread didn’t last long enough for me to take anything posher for you.

I sent Joanna at Zeb Bakes in England some kefir. As part of her experiements, Joanna (a great baker) decided to make kefir leavened bread blogged by her friend Cecilia. Joanna has written a very instructive blog post about her experience. And Cecilia is a Kiwi (New Zealander) living in mid-west USA.

So, with all this helpful stuff to read, I had to have a go at this.

As you can see from the pictures, the loaf turned out very well indeed. It was a soft bread (apart from the crisp crust), slightly sweet with a background tang. It makes lovely sandwiches and toasts well (browns very quickly). We had it au naturel, with marmalade and toasted with cheese and it went well with all of them.

You need to think a couple of days ahead as you need live kefir milk to start fermenting a flour ‘sponge’. You then add this sponge to a bigger quantity of flour to ferment the final loaf.

I’ve tweaked the recipes that preceded this to use a higher amount of kefir in the sponge and reduced the water to match. To see my recipe, please read on…

 Posted by at 17:36

Cumin & rye flake pitta bread recipe

 Autumn, Bread & baking, Fermentation, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter  Comments Off on Cumin & rye flake pitta bread recipe
Mar 312013
 

Cumin & rye pitta bread

Here’s a quick and easy pitta bread recipe as requested by my kind and talented Twitter friends @evilgordon & @karlasparlour.

I served it with a tasty lamb tangia slow cooked for 7 hours and which had some of the Smen I blogged about earlier.

The method is one I’ve borrowed from Dan Lepard, it saves a whole lot of faffing with the old ‘knead for 10 minutes’. It’s not necessary.

Ingredients

450g strong white flour
300g wholemeal spelt flour
50g rye flakes
5g cumin seeds
12g fast action yeast
12g caster sugar
12g fine sea salt
45g olive oil
500g warm water

Method

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Add the olive oil and rub in to the dry ingredients.

Add the water and mix well. You want to make sure all the dry ingredients are wet and the dough is mixed, that’s all.

Cover with plastic or a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes. Do what I call a quick ‘Compass Knead’. Imagine the dough is a compass, pull in to the centre of the dough from N, E , S, W and repeat.

Cover again, leave in a warm place and repeat the Compass Knead twice more at 10 minute intervals.

Cover the dough and leave for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Take out the dough and scale it into approximately 110g pieces, you should get 12 pieces.

Leave the 12 pieces on a floured board to rest for 15 minutes.

Roll out the pieces of dough so that they are about 5mm thick and 15cm in diameter.

I cooked mine on a hot cast iron tava taking about 2 minutes for each side. They could be cooked on a tray or baking stone in a very hot oven for about 3-5 minutes. Put the cooked pitta in a clean tea towel to stay warm and moist.

Tuck in and enjoy!

 Posted by at 20:20
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