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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Fresh from the Oven - No Knead Bread

The January challenge at Fresh from the Oven was to make this No Knead Bread in a cast iron casserole! It sounded quite easy and didn't involve too much work so I had a go. Here is the recipe supplied by Claire:

No Knead Bread

The Mix

  • 15oz Strong White bread flour - it works best with all white I think
  • ¼ tsp instant easibake yeast (out of a sachet)
  • 1 tsp table salt

Stir together well then add 10.5 fl oz of lukewarm water (a mugful)

Slosh it round into a gooey lump of dough with a fork

Leave in a big bowl and cover with cling film or put the bowl in a bin bag
Leave it in kitchen for 16-18 hours – or more if you forget.

The 16hr Sloosh

Use a dough scraper/cutter or your fingers, to scrape the wet porridgy dough away from the sides, using plenty of flour to stop it sticking, and shuffle it back into a nice round shape. Don't be tempted to knead it.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 2 more hours.

The Bake

Preheat oven to 200-220 and put in a lightly oiled Le Creuset or other large cast iron casserole with a lid on until the oven and the pan are super hot.

Again use the scraper and a good sprinkle of flour to detach the dough from the bowl without puncturing it’s airy goodness. Then quick as you can, without losing the heat from the oven and pan, tip the dough onto one hand then flop it into the hot pan the right way up again and put the lid back on and get it back in the oven immediately.

  • Bake for 30 minutes lid-on
  • Then cook for 10-12 minutes more, lid-off until golden brown

If it’s not hollow sounding on the bottom put it back in, without it's tin for an extra 5 minutes. Tip out and cool well before trying to slice


  • I find this works best for me if I make the dough around the school run (3.30pm) then do the first dough slooshing when I get up, then bake it mid morning. As you can see, the times can be very approximate! Another option might be to mix the dough on a Friday when you get in from work, sloosh it mid morning on Saturday and bake it at lunch time ready for Saturday evening. It seems like a long process but it really is no effort when you get your head round it.
  • If you haven’t got one yet it’s worth getting a dough cutter/scraper to save on sticky fingers. My plastic one was only 90p from a local cook shop.
  • My new Le Creuset (25cm) is a little bit too big for this recipe so I sit my lightly oiled 20cm mermaid pie tin in the bottom to help shape the loaf to be a bit taller and rounder. I also sometimes scatter a bit of semolina in the base for an extra crunchy bottom. You can use oil instead of flour to de-stick the dough from the mixing bowl, but it makes for a wetter and slighty denser outcome like the one shown at the end of this post. It is one of those loaves that comes out a little bit different every time anyway due to the extended prove.
The picture above is the gloopy, fermenting mixture of flour, yeast, water and salt.

and here is the cooked bread in it's Le Creuset casserole, it came out remarkably easily, I was a bit concerned that it would stick.

The loaf is remarkably like a Ciabatta, it has the same open texture and chewiness, it also kept very well. I would definitely recommend this loaf and I know that other bakers who didn't have a Le Creuset casserole used other kinds of pots with lids (it's the steam that is important), so why not check out their blogs via the Fresh from the Oven blog and have a go yourself.

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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Lamb and Cannellini Bean Hotpot

You know how I am waiting for my kitchen to be rebuilt and I'm living in amongst the new units? Well I can't get at most of my cookbooks and I hadn't realised how much I refer to them. There is a little bit of the shelf at the right hand side that is accessible and I managed to extract a little book called Let's Cook Simple Suppers by BBC Good Food (probably free with the Good Food Mag) and in it I found this recipe to use with my lamb chops. The recipe is actually for haricot beans but it does suggest cannellini or flageolet beans as an alternative.

2 onions, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 x 500g can haricot beans, drained (or use cannellini or flageolet beans instread)
1 tsp dreid oregano
150ml/1/4 pint vegetable stock
200g can chpped tomatoes
8 lamb chops or 4 lamb leg steaks

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/fan oven 180C. Fry the onions in 2 tablespoons of the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, beans and half the oregano, and stir briefly. Add the stock and tomatoes, season, then bring to the boil.
2. Tip and bean mixture into a large ovenproof dish. Lay the chops on top of a single layer.
3. Sprinkle with the remaining oregano, drizzle with the remaining oil and seaon. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes until the chops are tender and nicely browned.

You may notice in my photograph there are also mushrooms in my version, just a little bit of 'fridge-led' cookery :)

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Chicken Pot Pie and Plum & Raspberry Jelly

I was inspired by a recipe for a 'Lighter Chicken Pot Pie' on The Bite Me Kitchen Blog. I can't remember the last time I made I made Chicken Pot Pie, but I do remember the first time I had it. My dad worked for a US company and often went to California and Arizona on business. The first time he was able to take my Mum with him was in 1975 when I was 16, it had been arranged for me to go to Belgium to visit friends there for my holiday and my older sister was working during vacation from university. When Mum returned she brought with her an 'American Cookbook' and this was one of the recipes she made from it that we all loved and became a familty favourite.

I decided to make it yesterday, because of a mix up over whether my MIL needed any supper on Friday, I thought she didn't and apparently she did! So I used one of the chicken breasts that I had planned to have on Saturday, this left me with less chicken so I used the idea from The Bite Me Kitchen of bulking it up with lots of veg. I didn't however, go for a pastry topping, but the 'biscuits' as per the original recipe.

I have actually got my own copy of the book Mum brought back from the states (I bought it in 1979 when I first went to California), but it was jammed in behind the new kitchen units, so I just made a basic unsweetened scone recipe. OMG it was good though, the biscuits were soft and deliciously buttery (that would be the butter lol!) and the chicken and veg were sweet and tender in their luscious gravy.

When the kitchen is finished I'll dig out the book and post the recipe but it is really just chicken, onions, carrots and peas thickened with flour and sauced up with chicken stock, then the biscuit/scones on top.

I had some plums left over from last week's plum crumble and they needed used up. I poached them with some sugar and cinnamon then added a raspberry jelly (jello), topped up to 1 pint with orange juice and let it set. Served with Greek Yogurt (sorry Vegboxboy - no cream again!)

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Oak Worktops

Just a little update on the new kitchen. The joiner (carpenter) who is coming to fit the kitchen said he would "be here in the middle of this week at the earliest" we are interpreting this as probably next week. These oak worktops are supposed to be oiled and, indeed the oil came with them. However, as my MIL (85) lives with us and is likely to use all sorts of chemical sprays on any available surface (and will not be told) we decided that it was safer to varnish them. The joiner says this will be fine and at least they will maintain their fabulous finish. The varnish is matt so it really doesn't show at all.

I was really excited when I saw how gorgeous the worktops look and how well they match our wooden floor. Mind you we have spent all weekend moving them, painting them and stepping over them!


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Plum and Orange Oat Crumble

This is dessert from last Sunday, I was just too busy this week to blog it. As usual it started out as a different recipe, Peach and Orange Oat Crumble, but they had plums on special offer in Tesco and I wouldn't buy peaches just now anyway. The combination of the plums and orange was really nice. I still have half the crumble mix left in a jar in the fridge for another crumble.

Plum and Orange Oat Crumble

8 plums

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp caster sugar

50g wholemeal flour

2 oranges

25g jumbo oats

1 tbsp Demerara sugar

25g butter or margarine

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6

2. Cut the plums in half, remove the stones, and cut in quarters. Place in an ovenproof dish. Scatter the cinnamon and caster sugar over the top.

3. Zest the oranges on a fine grater into the bowl then, using a serrated knife, cut away the peel and segment the orange over the plums.

4. Put the flour and oats into a bowl, rub in the butter or margarine, mix in the Demerara sugar, then pile the crumble on top of the fruits.

5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Serve hot with low-fat custard or virtually fat free fromage frais.

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Friday, 19 February 2010

Spanish Pork

I haven't had a lot of time to blog this week, I was dog sitting for my friend at the start of the week and have been too tired the rest of the week. But thought I'd better show face here with some kind of offering.

I made this pork dish with pork loin steaks, onions, tinned tomatoes and olives (stuffed with garlic), served with couscous cooked in chicken stock and seasonal savoy cabbage.

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Sunday, 14 February 2010

The new kitchen - in boxes!

The kitchen units arrived this week. DH thought they would be flat packed, but no they come ready assembled which does take up a bit more space!
The oak worktops are very long and have to be propped up right across the dining room making it a bit of a squeeze in there.
Those are the pelmets leaning up against the wall. We only need the joiner now and things will start to happen!


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Maple Pears with pecans and cranberries

You know the way you buy some pears and it takes all week for them to ripen? Yes, well I bought these pears last week and they were perfect today. So I had a quick search on the internet for a suitable dessert recipe and found this.

I served the pears with Light Greek Style Yogurt with a little vanilla extract mixed through it. I have to say it was very nice :)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cutting Recipes from magazines

I've been cutting recipes out of magazines for a very long time and this is the very first. The recipe probably comes from either Woman or Woman's Own Magazine, I'm fairly sure that is who Mary Meridith wrote for and those were the magazines that my mum bought every week. It had been stuck into some kind of book, yes I have been making scrapbooks of a kind since I was a child, but although I must have decided to get rid of the rest of the book, I kept the recipe for the Raspberry Buns because I used to make them for my Dad, they were his favourite.

I was going to make some to show you, then I got on the scales and realised that if I made them I would probably eat some and I had better not! Then I tried to find an image of a Raspberry Bun to show you what they should look like but any that were even close were copyright. So I guess you will just have to make them yourself if you want to see what they are like. The recipe is in 'old money' I'm afraid and a little archaic in the way it is written, although we are probably talking 1972 ish.

Raspberry Buns
Makes 10

8oz self-raising flour
pinch of salt
3oz margarine
3oz caster sugar
1 egg
1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of milk
Raspberry jam
a little milk and caster sugar for the glaze
a little cooking oil or melted fat
2 baking trays

Brush the baking trays with a little oil of melted fat. Light the oven at Gas mark 6 or 400 degrees (that would be Fahrenheit, so 200C), to be ready for the buns.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add margarine and cut it into small pieces with a knife. Lift up the flour and margarine in your fingers and rub it as it falls back into the bowl; lifting it above the bowl keeps the mixture cool. When the mixture is of an even texture and all the little pieces of margarine have disappeared, stir in the caster sugar.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add it to the mixture with just enough milk to make a stiff dough; this may only be a tablespoonful and it depends on the size of the egg.

Divide the mixture into 10 even sized pieces and , with your hands lightly floured, roll each one into a little ball. Put the buns on to a greased baking tray with rough space between to allow them to spread. With your fingers, form a hollow in the centre of each bun to hold the jam.

Put a small spoonful of jam into the hollowed centre of each bun. Pinch the mixture together over the ham, so that the jam is hidden. Brush the tops of the buns with a little milk and sprinkle them with caster sugar.

Cook the buns just above the centre of the fairly hot oven, about Gas mark 6 or 400 degrees, for about 15 minutes, until they are risen and nicely browned. The jam should burst through the surface. Using a palette knife, slip the buns on to a wire tray to cool. When they are cold the jam will shrunk slightly, so fill them.

You can pretty well date this recipe by what I found on the back...anyone remember David Cassidy? - didn't he look gorgeous.

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Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunday Soupday

Well it seems that I am always making soup on a Sunday and blogging about it! This week it was French Onion Soup as I just had a fancy for it. I'm not going to post the recipe, you can see it on the BBC Good Food website here if you fancy making some. I'm not sure it is the best recipe I've used but it did the job.
I know it looks better with a big bit of baguette and cheese on the top, but as I'm trying to cut back on the cheese, we had it without.

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Thursday, 4 February 2010

Honest Scrap Award

I've just received this award from Deanna at the award asks you to blog 10 honest things about yourself so here goes:

1. I am 50 years old (ouch that one hurt!)
2. The first cookbook I bought which really inspired me was A Taste of the Country by Pamela Westland, I was 14 at the time.
3. I was a full time farmer for 4 years, now a part-time farmer with a demanding full-time job in education.
4. I like red wine
5. I like dark chocolate
6. I don't eat tongue (it's been in somebody elses mouth)
7. I don't iron my bed linen, in fact I use the iron as little as possible
8. I wouldn't like to cook or bake for a living.
9. I like to read crime fiction
10. I spend far too much time on the internet!

I'm not going to pass this on to anyone this time, but if you want to join in just copy the award and share some honest stuff about yourself.