World Cup Weekend 2

Last weekend probably involved a world cup country recipe that I was most interested in trying. Saturday saw me make something for South Korea which has brought a new meaning to KFC, Korean Fried Chicken. For my version I served it with a sticky soy based sauce and a kimchi style slaw. This was the first time I’ve attempted deep frying anything as, if I’m perfectly honest, cooking with so much oil horrifies me. But, I have to say, it was definitely worth it.

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Recipe for two people

Chicken

2 Boneless Chicken Thighs

Small amount grated ginger

50g cornflour

Vegetable oil for frying

Sauce

3 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp chilli paste

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

Small amount of ginger, grated

Kimchi Style Slaw

1/2 white cabbage, thinly sliced

1 mooli, threaded into thin strips

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

Small amount of ginger, grated

1 tsp golden caster sugar

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp mayonnaise

Pinch of chilli powder

2 burger buns to serve

  1. Make slaw by mixing all the ingredients together. Chill in the fridge. 
  2. To make the sauce, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer until it looks syrupy. Take off the heat and put to the side.20180623_184423
  3. Cut away any excess from the chicken and season with slat, pepper and the grated ginger. Coat the chicken with the cornflour until completely covered.
  4. Heat about 2 cm of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Fry the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side until crisp. Remove from the pan and place onto kitchen paper, leaving to cool slightly for 2 minutes. Re-fry the chicken in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes until it is extra crispy and golden. Remove to kitchen paper to drain.
  5. Reheat the sauce. Assemble your burgers by placing some kimchi slaw on the bottom of the bun, top with the crispy chicken and sticky sauce drizzled on top. Serve extra slaw on the side and some chips.

Sunday made for a difficult day to think of a recipe as we were limited to just making breakfast at home. With England playing and Mr W offering to make breakfast, a cooked breakfast seemed like the perfect choice. Although it may seem a bit of a cheat, we don’t actually have cooked breakfasts at the weekend. The closest we get is eggs and toast (bacon butties rarely make an appearance). Mr W got into the spirit of things and made a menu of what was on offer and boxes to tick so that he could cook to order (memories of a B&B we’ve stayed in where Mr C in a drunken state requested everything of the menu which included smoked kippers and three different types of egg). Top marks to the chef for this one.

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Sourdough Banana Bread

I’ve been able to keep a sourdough starter going for a couple of months now. I’ve made three attempts at a sourdough bread and have even bought myself a proving basket (although my only attempt at using it resulted in the dough sticking to it. Lesson learnt – use more flour). For those that have a starter, you will know about the needing to feed it (keeping some aside that you feed and binning the rest). Rather than throw away this discarded starter, I’ve been keeping it in a sealed container in the fridge. Everytime I add to it, I give it a stir. So…what to do with this excess starter? It’s great to use in other baking recipes and on this occasion I made banana bread. I don’t like my banana bread too sweet as I eat it warmed through for breakfast (with pears cooked in marmalade and a dollop of yogurt) rather than a slice for elevenses or an afternoon pick me up. Feel free to add some chocolate chips or chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts would be the perfect combo). I used a food processor which makes it so quick and easy to make.

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sourdough starter

1/2 cup butter, softened and cubed

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C fan. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt until its all combined.
  3. Add the sourdough starter, cubed butter and mashed butter on top of the dry ingredients. Then add the egg and vanilla paste. Pulse together until a smooth, thick batter is formed. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
  4. Bake in oven for 60 to 70 minutes until well browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Serving suggestions – liberally covered with nut butter, warmed fruit and yogurt, ice cream, chocolate spread.

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Sourdough Crumpets

A few months ago I started my own rye sourdough starter. It’s not as difficult as you think. It’s just a combination of flour (dark rye for me) and water that you mix together. This mixture is then ‘fed’ on a daily basis with more flour and water until bubbles start to form. Some starter recipes suggest adding yeast but the whole point of sourdough is that yeast isn’t included, instead the fermentation from the bacteria helps the bread rise and gives the bread its distinctive sour taste. Whilst I’m feeding mine (in preparation for using it) I leave it on the side in a container with a tea towel over the top. When I’m not going to be using it regularly I put a lid on the container and place it in the fridge. This slows down the fermentation and reduces the activity of the bacteria. When I know I want to use it, I remove from the fridge, take off the lid, cover with a tea towel and allow to come to room temperature. I then repeat the feeding process until it starts to bubble/look frothy. Since running out of rye flour I have been using strong white flour. This hasn’t affected the starter and it still has a slight rye flavour to it.

I’ve been using King Arthur Flour and Hobbs House Bakery for guidance on how to make a starter and also for recipe ideas. I’m not an expert on sourdough so if you are wanting to start your own starter, please look at these websites.

My first bake using my starter was a rye sourdough loaf. I would give the bake a 5 out of 10. The flavour was there but the texture was a bit dense. Sourdough takes longer to kneed and I made it all by hand. The recipe said to kneed the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. I was kneading it for 30 minutes and felt I wasn’t going anywhere. I eventually stopped and continued with the recipe but it was wetter than I was expecting. Next time I will use a dough hook and see if that helps. Sourdough has longer proving times (up to 5 hours for first proving and 12 hours for second proving) which improves the distinctive flavour. I’ve also attempted making sourdough pancakes where the sourdough starter is incorporated into the pancake recipe. Again, these had the distinctive sourdough flavour and the earthiness of the rye flour. The texture was also similar to that of my usual pancakes. If you want to give these a go, the recipe I used is here. I included the addition of some chopped chocolate truffles. I added these to the top of the pancakes before I flipped them over in the pan. I served with blueberries and almond slivers as a birthday breakfast for Mr W.

Yesterday morning I decided to give sourdough crumpets a try. I was surprised at how few ingredients you actually need to make them. Although crumpet rings are not a necessary piece of equipment (apparently small food cans with both ends taken off work just as well) they do make life easier. I’ve also used them when making pancakes and poaching eggs (multipurpose utensil). I found the recipe on the Hobbs Bakery website (link above) when trying to find different uses for my starter so that it is not sat in the fridge for months on end.

Sourdough Crumpets (makes 4)

Ingredients

  • 270g sourdough starter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

Method

  1. Mix your sourdough starter, salt and honey together in a bowl and leave to stand. The starter will slowly start to bubble (I left mine for 20 minutes and some small bubbles had appeared).
  2. Grease a frying pan and your crumpet rings. Place the frying pan on a medium heat and put the crumpet rings in the pan.
  3. Add the bicorbanate soda to your sourdough starter mix. This will cause the starter to bubble.
  4. Once the frying and crumpet rings are hot, pour the batter into the rings and leave a 1/2 cm gap at the top. Slowly cook the crumpets and keep an eye on the bottom of the crumpet as this can easily burn.
  5. Once the edges have cooked, gently take off the crumpet ring (may need to loosen edges with a knife) and flip the crumpet over. Cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Keep these warm whilst you repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining batter.

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I made four crumpets with the above recipe. These were delicious for breakfast (one with jam and one with butter).

I did find the crumpets a little too salty (which you also get with the shop bought kind) so would consider using  a little less.

I found the texture on my first two crumpets to be a bit doughy inside. For the next two I used  a lower heat and cooked for a little longer. I have yet to try these (4 for breakfast is a little excessive and Mr W doesn’t like them).

Portable Breakfasts

This month, Mr W and I spent a few days in Cambridge to celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (the time has flew by). Usually, we would book into a B&B but this time we were room only which meant finding somewhere to eat. Mr W did a little research and found some good reviews for a little cafe tucked away in the centre. Although the breakfast menu was a little limited (only about four options and the closest to a cooked breakfast was toast) Mr W was happy to try it. Boy we were glad. We enjoyed it that much that we went for breakfast again the next day. As Mr W put it, you don’t want to finish a holiday going somewhere new for breakfast and potentially be disappointed when we can go back to somewhere we really enjoyed.

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Mr W decided on the fruit compote, natural yogurt and granola whilst I tried the apple bircher muesli. Although I have made my own takes on bircher at home, I’ve never bought one and was intrigued as to what the consistency was going to be like. I’ve followed recipes where these has been way too much liquid (think an island of oats surrounded by a sea of milk) or quite dry. For me, this one had the moist texture I like when I make it. It was a combination of oats, grated apple, raisins, cinnamon and topped with some fresh fruit. Mr W’s was strawberry compote layered with banana, natural yogurt and topped with a soft, flapjack like granola. I think it was the flapjack granola that sealed the deal for Mr W. For those ever in Cambridge, head to Stickybeaks Cafe (for this breakfast), the Pint Shop (try the homemade scotch egg), the Free Press (quirky little pub), Jack’s Gelato (always room for ice cream) and Meat and Bread (amazing sandwiches and tasty sounding brownies).

When we got home, I made my version of the yogurt and fruit jam jar breakfast. First up I mashed some fresh strawberries with some honey, chia seeds and cinnamon. This was to get a soft compote like texture which still had some structure to it to prevent it seeping into the yogurt. So, I put a layer of the strawberry compote in the bottom of two jam jars , topped this with a layer of sliced banana and then a layer of natural yogurt. I then repeated the layering so that there were two layers of each. I then topped with some Graze strawberry yogurt protein topper. This has a mix of small toasted oats, freeze dried strawberries and crispy yogurt balls. I did the layering the night before and stored in the fridge overnight. In the morning I then added the protein topper so that it still retained it’s crunch. You could always top it with shop bought or homemade granola or use a different fruit for the compote. I can imagine stewed apples would be nice for autumn. My version got the thumbs up from Mr W.

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The serving of the bircher and yogurt pots in jam jars got me thinking that I could make similar things for breakfast to take to work. Recently I seem to be rushing in the morning and don’t get t enjoy my breakfast. My thoughts were that I could prepare the breakfast the night before and divide into two jam jars and that would be two day’s of breakfasts sorted. So, over the last two weeks I have had a portable jam jar breakfast for eight mornings and have tried three different recipes. My favourite (the one I repeated) was one that I found in a Madeline Shaw cookbook that I adapted slightly. When I initially saw it, it reminded me of the one I had in Cambridge. In the recipe, the amount of oats stated is a little too much for me. I also made some slight changes the second time by not adding any honey or maple syrup as I found it sweet enough and adding some raisins to the bottom of each jar. So, the night before I mixed 100g oats with a grated apple, 250ml almond milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and some vanilla (I use a vanilla grinder as it gives the flecks of vanilla that I love). Get two jam jars or containers and add a spoonful of raisins to the bottom of each and divide the oat mixture between the two jars and keep in the fridge. The following morning I topped the bircher with some natural yogurt, blueberries and some Graze vanilla sunflower seeds (beware, these are addictive). Although it didn’t look as pretty by the time I transported in to work, it still tasted yummy. I kept the other jar in the fridge for 2 days before eating and it was still fine.

I also made a carrot bircher (another Madeline Shaw recipe) and a layered chia pudding. For me, these recipes still need a bit of tweaking, Although the carrot bircher was okay, the texture seemed a bit sloppy and it needs the addition of some raisins or nuts to give it a carrot cake vibe. The chia pudding wasn’t firm enough and by the time I got to work, the yogurt had mixed together with it. By slicing the strawberries, I seemed to make it more difficult to eat. A compote idea might work better. I have managed to find some other chia pudding recipes which I’m going to try this week. Chocolate and peanut butter…. As we are approaching summer, these jam jar breakfasts are a great replacements for hot porridge. Here’s to more flavour combinations!

French Toast

Last week  was a lovely long weekend for me. Mr W had booked us a weekend away in the Lake District. I took advantage and booked the Friday off work (too many days and not enough time to use them). As Mr W was only off in the afternoon, I decided to treat myself to breakfast out. It did take some persuading from Mr W and my sister to actually get me to go. Plenty of food in the house, the weekend away was going to be full of food treats and the idea of sitting in a cafe on my own eating breakfast scared me. But, there was a new cafe that had recently opened I Prestwich that I did really want to try and when would I get the chance anytime soon? (Forgetting that I have a week off in a few weeks lol). That was me all geared up to go, hoping that I could go again with Mr W if I liked it.

On the way to the tram stop I called in to the shop to get a magazine so that I had something to do over breakfast. I then realised that the trams were cheaper after 9.30 (time check and it was 9.20) so cue long way round to tram stop and waiting with other people at the station for the time to change on the machines. I don’t even know if my fare was any cheaper but it made for a fun wait of commuters against the machine.

This cafe I wanted to try (All The Shapes) had come through on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago and the food looked yummy. A mooch at the menu had me drooling over breakfasts like homemade granola, toasted banana bread and sweetcorn fritters. On the walk over, I started to panic that I would be the only person in there (as it was hidden away off the main street) eating breakfast on my own. Talk about looking like a loner. But I didn’t need to worry, there were a few groups in there. It was only a small cafe and I managed to grab the last available table (okay, it was meant for four people…).20170203_100730

I am very indecisive when it comes to ordering food (Mr W and my family hate it. I sit there having an internal dilemma about it and over analyse all my options. It’s something I need to work on but it’s difficult. As much as I love food, I have an awkward relationship with it 😦 ) So, I asked the waiter what he would recommend which were the green eggs (sourdough, healthy greens, griddled avocado  and fried egg) or the cooked breakfast (filling but not greasy). I really wanted him to recommend the french toast so decided that must be what I wanted. French toast with griddled pineapple, mango and mascarpone. Now, I’ve never been been a big fan of french toast (bad experience of eggy bread growing up) but OMG, this was delicious. Whilst I was waiting for it, I was eyeing up the neighbouring tables green eggs with envy. But then when mine came out, they were envying mine. I was so glad that I went for that option, although now I need to go back with Mr W to try something else. I would never think of making french toast at home, but having tried this, it made me want to give it a go. 

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So, yesterday morning I decided to try a french toast recipe that doesn’t use egg. It’s a recipe from Madeline Shaw that I adapted slightly. Although Mr W likes eggs, he isn’t a fan of dishes like omelette or quiche because of the texture. I was worried that if I gave him eggy bread for breakfast he wouldn’t like it. Madeline’s recipe was a vegan friendly so used a mix of almond milk and chickpea flour instead of egg. It was easy to make and was hit with both me and Mr W. This is how I made it.

Serves 2

180ml skimmed milk

1tsp vanilla essence

2tbsp chickpea flour

1tsp cinnamon

4 thick slices sourdough

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

blueberries and strawberries

Pour the milk and vanilla essence into a baking dish and whisk together. Sieve in the chickpea flour and cinnamon and whisk together. Place the bread in the mixture and soak on each side for 2 minutes.

Whilst the bread was soaking I warmed the blueberries in a pan with a little bit of sugar, water and a teaspoon of cornflour to make a gloopy warm compote.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add the soaked bread and cook on each side for two minutes (turning over every one minute). This will give the coating a nice golden colour. Serve two slices of toast per person and top with the blueberry compote and sliced strawberries. Enjoy!

GBBO weeks 3 and 4

So, the third week of this year’s Great British Bake Off was bread week. Now, as I’ve admitted on here before, bread isn’t my strongest baking area. I never seem to get a good rise. But, I had seen in a recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks that I’d been wanting to try, so week 3 theme seemed a good time to try. It didn’t fit in with any of the categories (a sweet dough, a steamed bake or contain three flours) but who cares?

The recipe was for a ‘Figgy Banana Bread’ from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food cookbook. It’s a suggested breakfast idea so we actually had our first try of it before the bake off episode (yum yum yum). The recipe is relatively easy with everything going into a food processor. It also doesn’t contain any yeast so does not need to be proved and can be ready in under an hour and a half. Rather than being a typical bread, it comes out looking more like a cake. I don’t think it helps that it is baked in a cake tin. I found it easier to slice the bread into the recommended number of wedges so you can grab a piece each morning. Jamie suggests serving it with a dollop of nut butter and a dollop of natural yoghurt. I did this and loved the combination of salty peanut butter with the sweet figgy bread.  I sliced my piece of bread in half, topping one with the peanut butter and the other with yoghurt. I also had it with home made strawberry chia jam instead of the peanut butter and it was still yummy. Mr W had his with sliced banana instead of the nut butter so the combinations are endless. I strongly recommend having it with something to make it more into a meal rather than a snack. Although the recipe doesn’t mention anything about freezing the bread, I froze a couple of pieces for about a week and they were just as good as fresh once defrosted. The bread until stays fresh for a few days in a tin and I didn’t want to have to throw away the leftovers (I liked it too much). Below is the recipe taken from Jamie’s book.

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Serves 12

  • 250g dried figs
  • 75ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 125g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 eating apple
  • 50g whole almonds
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 25cm cake tin with a scrunched sheet of wet greaseproof paper. Place 200g of figs in a food processor with the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled bananas and eggs then blitz until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, poppy seeds and turmeric and pulse until just combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture. Coarsely grate the apple and stir into the mixture.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Tear over the remaining figs and chop the almonds, scatter over the top of the mixture, pushing them down slightly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little. N.B. I found it difficult to remove from the greaseproof paper. Don’t panic if it sticks, just slowly peel it away.

This is definitely a  recipe I want to bake again. It was slightly indulgent having essentially cake for breakfast but it made a nice change.

Now, GBBO week 4 was batter week with the making of Yorkshire puddings, lace pancakes and churros. The obvious option for something to make was pancakes. This year, I never made the traditional pancakes for Shrove Tuesday so took this week as a chance to do so. Now, what a disappointment. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to having slightly thicker, flavourful breakfast pancakes. These crepe style pancakes were plain, bland and boring. Even the addition of lemon, sugar and ice cream didn’t help matters. Not something I will be repeating anytime soon.

 

 

Apple and cinnamon pancakes

I thought I would try a variation of my single serve pancakes. Rather than use half a mashed banana as an egg substitute, I tried apple sauce. Adding cinnamon seemed an obvious pairing. I also added some sliced apples to the top of each pancake before flipping. They made a lovely alternative to my usual pancakes.

  • 1/4 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • Sliced apples
  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a jug.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a mug. Adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Grease a frying pan and heat. Pour in batter to make pancake. Top with some sliced apples. When underside browned and bubbles form on surface, carefully flip pancake. Once browned on second side put on plate and cover to keep warm. Make more pancakes until batter used up.
  4. Serve with an optional dollop of natural yoghurt and sprinkling of ground cinnamon.