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…

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 Posted by at 13:40
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…
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 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
Mar 312013
 
Herbed and salted Smen

Kefir grains on the left; on the right the finished Smen,

Morocco has a special place in my heart as that’s where I had my honeymoon well over 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve maintained a keen interest in Moroccan & other North African cuisine.

One of the ingredients that is traditional to this part of the world is Smen (also called smansemneh, or sminn) which is a cultured, salted and flavoured butter which keeps for ages. It’s normally made from sheep or goat’s milk. You’ll see it used to spread on flatbreads, to flavour tagines and cous cous. Jamie Oliver uses it for his recipe for mechoui lamb that I wanted to cook, so I decided to see if I could make my own smen.

Most of the recipes for it that I have found on the web and in my book involve clarifying butter. This is then kneaded with salt and an infusion of herbs (oregano or fenugreek). The butter is then packed and sealed and stored to mature. In others unclarified butter has the salt & herbs added and it’s then clarified.

The web tells of Berber herds people who will bury a sealed container of smen on the day of a daughter’s birth, aging it until it is unearthed and used to season the food served on that daughter’s wedding. I’ve no idea if this is true.

I’ve been playing with milk kefir grains for a while now. I wondered if I could use them to make smen from scratch with cream without the need to clarify already made butter. Read on for my story about how this might have happened in North Africa and for my method…
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 Posted by at 10:44
Mar 292013
 

Puntarelle plants one month from sowing

How to grow Puntarelle

In my last blog post, I showed you how to use this versatile vegetable. As promised, I’ll tell you how to grow them in this post.

We found these very easy to grow last year even with all the rain and lack of sun.

If you’d like me to show you how to grow them,  please read on…
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 Posted by at 12:16
Dec 042012
 

Maked ginger & pecan muffins

This is one of Debs’ inventions that I made yesterday. When I first tasted them I was in food heaven. Lovely spicy ginger flavour with the roasted pecan taste and a hint of spice. It’s such a gorgeous combination – they are my favourite muffin now.

What’s even better about this recipe is that you can make up the ingredients in the time it takes the oven to warm up and be eating muffins 25 minutes later.

I used Naked Ginger to make these ones: you can use preserved stem ginger in syrup or crystalised ginger to make them too. The Naked ginger is less sugary than crystalised. It’s an Aussie product that you can buy in the UK from Lakeland and other places.

If you want to have a try, please read on…
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 Posted by at 16:56
Nov 162012
 

Peat Free Diet Audiobook Cover

Emma Cooper – The Peat Free Diet – Audio Book

Running time in excess of 2 hours

The Peat Free Diet (PFD) on Emma’s blog is a really useful resource for anyone interested in growing things. If you’re also interested in saving peat bogs by going peat free, then all the better: the book or audio-book is for you. Emma has packed a huge amount of comprehensive, detailed and well researched information into a neat little package. If you’re new to gardening or if you’d welcome a refresher, this will be a mine of handy & very accessible information for you.

Does it work as an audio-book though?

Yes, if you’re in the market for some enjoyable in-ear education. I can see (hear?) that this audio-book will be useful to commuters, exercisers and those who, for choice or physical need, prefer an audio presentation of material.

Emma’s diction and enunciation are very clear and crisp. I think that her speech will be clear on even the most dodgy set of earphones. The reading is fast enough paced so that you’ll not fall asleep without being so fast as to seem garbled.

Emma’s wry sense of humour also shines through her presentation with some dry quips delivered in characteristically understated style.

Emma produced the audio book herself and I think this shows in a couple of minor respects. The transitions between each track are slightly clipped at the end of one and the beginning of the next. Not so much so that you lose the meaning, but just noticeable. And on very few tracks the sound levels are not fully consistent between tracks. Again, not annoyingly so – just noticeable.

I think that this audio-book is a great piece of work by Emma. If you’re in the sort of groups of people I’ve suggested, it would be a great addition to your audio library.

Disclosure:
I count Emma as a friend. We’re regularly in contact and exchanging banter on Twitter and Emma has been to visit me here in North Wales. That said, I’ve called this review as I heard it and feel about it. I hope that helps.

 

 

 Posted by at 12:53
Aug 312012
 

My Foodie Penpals parcel for August 2012
This is my second Foodie Penpals parcel. This month I was matched with Alena from London who, as you can see, really did me proud.

What Alena sent me was as wonderful as it was unexpected. She sent me all I would need to make wonderful sushi and a fab miso soup. Even down to thinking to include a shushi rolling mat. How clever & thoughtful is that?

Alena sent me a beautiful sunflower card. In it she said:

This summer we are really enjoying Japanese food & I have decided to send you some ingredients for sushi & my favourite miso soup with enoki mushrooms.

As an ex-London resident, I really appreciate the marvels and choice you have there so you can  get ingredients from just about any part of the world. North Wales isn’t quite like that.

We’ve had the soup, which was delicious. As Debs has been working hard on a load of shifts, I’ve held off making the sushi – now she’s on holiday we can indulge at leisure. I’m really looking forward to the chance to practise a new technique.

What’s not shown is the cake Alena sent me. I’ll let Alena describe:

I have also baked an apple pie – this is our family recipe.

It was gorgeous. And the reason there’s no picture is because we consumed the cake (generous portions of the same) before I got the chance to take any pictures. My 17-year-old son declared it “Amazing!” and I agree heartily.

What’s more, Alena kept me fully up to date with progress of the parcel. She packed it beautifully and safely.

All-in-all, I was delighted with the parcel. Another victory for Foodie Penpals. Thanks so much Alena x

I recommend the scheme if you love food and would like to try new things. If you do, click the badge below to find out more…

 Posted by at 18:31
Aug 312012
 

My Seedy Packet from Lucy

Seedy Penpals is go

Our inaugural Seedy Penpals exchange appears to have been a great success. We had over 40 people join in and I’ve seen some truly great Seedy Packets. What’s more new friendships have been forged and a new online community is born. Very many thanks to all of you who contributed, helped and joined in.

There have been a few glitches and Mel & I are learning from the things that didn’t go quite right. I think the most difficulties arose from Penpals not communicating with each other, or from misinterpretations of communications. From my point of view, the best exchanges occured where Penpals emailed/tweeted well & often to keep each other up to date and clarify things. Hardly surprising from a ‘Penpals’ scheme you’d think…

So well done everybody, we’ll link to your blogs below and then link up monthly progress reports with forthcoming Seedy Cuttings.

My Seedy Packet

At the top of this post is a picture of my brilliant and thoughtful Seedy Packet from Lucy at Offally Good (worth a visit).

Lucy’s choice was prescient for a number of reasons.

Bee things

Lucy sent me some Bee things: some seeds for a bee friendly garden, a booklet from Neal’s Yard about the Save the Bee campaign and a test pot of gorgeous Neal’s Yard honey hand cream. Now this is prescient because we’re developing a 250 square metre part of our land to host some bees in Top Bar Hives. I’ll blog more about this in the coming weeks. What’s more, we’d made some of our own Calendula Salve. The little honey hand cream has inspired us to have a go at making our own and some honey lip balm too. More of this later…

Healing Marigolds

It’ll be (no puns here – Ed) obvious then, that the marigold seeds from Lucy’s own garden would be very welcome. We’ll grow these next year and make some more balm from them: OffallyGood Balm anyone?

Mum’s seeds to cherish

We certainly think that the seeds saved from penpals gardens are the most touching to receive. It’s like getting a piece of someone’s life that they cherish & want others to share. So it was really touching for Lucy to have included some seeds from Lucy’s Mum’s garden in Lincolnshire. There are seeds for melon, squash & runner beans. We will look after them like our own and hopefully have seeds to pass on to others next year.

Kohlrabi

Lucy said that she’d not had a lot of luck growing kohlrabi even though she really likes it. Well we love it too: raw, cooked or fermented. And we’ve had success with purple varieties in the past, so some white kohlrabi will go down very well here.

Nasturtiums

Another great choice. We love them for their colour, the way they attract bees & other pollinating insects and because they are super edible. The flowers, leaves & seeds are all lovely & peppery. I’ve just made some nasturtium ‘capers’ too. So these new ones to us will give us some welcome variety and colour.

All-in-all it’s obvious we’re delighted with our Seedy Packet. Our heartfelt thanks to Lucy. I’ll keep you up to date with progress through Seedy Cuttings.

You can add a link to your Seedy Penpals blog posts using the form below. The form will be live from the 31st August 2012.


 Posted by at 08:44
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