Synchronicity and ‘Rusticating’ Wholewheat pastry.

I’ve been finding it hard to get back into things since being away, so I decided to spend the day (even though it was glorious outside) just treating myself to a gentle time of doing things I like in the kitchen. I subscribe to Gillian Bellcake’s & Annabelle Hickson’s podcast Dispatch to a Friend  and find their light-hearted, loving exchanges about their loves, lives, hardships, friendships, experiences, travels, gardens and everything in between (even home-made coffins) comforting and entertaining. I find myself chuckling away, nodding my head in agreement, tut tutting when they talk about neighbours cutting down trees, feeling sympathetic and even reply out loud to their  exchanges.  The ideal company to have chatting in the background while I potter around.

To kick-start the day of being gentle on myself, I picked some beautiful spring flowers and set them on the dresser in the kitchen. I’m so glad there are still daffodils performing upon my return, I thought I might have missed them this season. I also picked some rhubarb and set a goal to make a rhubarb and  fruit galette using freshly milled flour in the pastry. I had picked rhubarb and I knew there was fruit in the fridge that had been sitting there for a couple of months just macerating away in orange juice. Syrupy, sweet, delicious. Ideal  to marry with some rhubarb. So, rhubarb and boozy fruit in a galette was what it was destined to be. I did know that I wanted to have a go at making pastry using freshly milled, organic whole-wheat flour. I recently purchased a Mockmill flour mill and I’m loving getting used to all the different things I can mill with it. The Mockmill is a compact, affordable, stoneground mill that does an astounding job of milling all different grains and spices. Here I’m doing malted wheat flakes to add to a bread dough.

 I had no idea of which may be a good whole-wheat pastry recipe, so out came the Google assistant. Experience has taught me that whole-wheat pastry is going to be less light and delicate than white flour pastry but that’s ok. The nutty flavour and the extra nutritional value whole-wheat offers is a bonus. I’m also looking for the rustic feel with this dish. I want to include more whole-grains and organic food into my diet whenever possible. This is where it gets a bit spooky! The first Google hit returned a site called ‘Local Is Lovely‘ and it took me straight to a post about Gillian Bellcake’s Rhubarb & Crab Apple Tart, it’s not a whole-wheat pastry and nothing like what I was looking for, but how could I not give it a go seeing as I was listening to Gillian chatting in the background. Sceptics would say this is the cyber tracking spies at work, but I think it’s magic!

I made the pastry as per the recipe but used 350g organic white flour and 150g freshly milled whole-wheat flour. I also added an extra egg yolk (I only had small eggs) and a splash of water to assist the dough coming together. The pastry has rosemary in it, so off to the bushes that are currently covered in fresh, soft growth and delicate little blue flowers that act as bee bait, to gather a handful of flavour. Blitzed the flour, butter, rosemary, egg yolks and a splash of water until it just came together then turned it out and worked it on my bench to form a dough. Wrapped in a bee’s wax wrap and popped into the fridge for half an hour.

I have been anti ‘cling wrap’ for a very long time. Cling wrap is one of those particularly insidious single use plastics and there has been a huge amount of evidence as to the nasties it can impart back into your food that I just don’t touch it. Can you imagine how many times the world could be wrapped in cling wrap just by what kids take to school on their lunches that don’t even get eaten, but just thrown out.  I usually put pastry in a container for its resting time but lately I’ve been using bees-wax wraps and I love them.  After resting dough for about half an hour I took the pastry out, rolled it and plonked the fruit and chopped rhubarb into the centre. I kept the surplus trimmings and popped them into a container in the freezer to use on  another day. A quick turning the dough edges to the centre, a bit of what I refer to as ‘rusticating’, a couple of patches and the galette was ready to bake.I baked this in my little Wood fired Nectre Bakers Oven that we installed as part of our kitchen exteno, what a great little unit this is. We don’t have any hydronic heating at the moment, so the Nectre has been put through its paces this week keeping the back part of the house warm.Seems to have turned out well, I tasted a couple of crumbles from the pastry and it is delicious. This is for dessert tomorrow night when the kids come, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Definitely will be adding some extra thick dollops of cream to it when serving, I may even whip up some of the condensed milk ice-cream I heard the girls talking about. That brought back memories from my childhood, condensed milk ice-cream, made (without an ice cream churn Annabelle) and set into aluminium ice-block moulds in the fridge. Better get out the Google assistant again to find a recipe for that. Who nows where I’ll end up! I may even make some rhubarb syrup to pour the fruit in the centre too.

Pop across to the Local Is Lovely site to get the real recipe which is for

GILLIAN’S RHUBARB AND CRAB APPLE TART WITH A ROSEMARY CRUST

and see the beautiful ‘unrusticated’ creation that was made by Gillian. Poles apart from what I’ve done with my creation, but that’s the joy of baking, make it work to suit you!

To subscribe to Dispatch to a Friend podcasts, go to this link or iTunes.

In My Kitchen December.

Well the month started with a landmark birthday for me so to celebrate we headed to Echuca on the Murray River to take charge of a houseboat for 7 nights. Myself, Mr ATMT, my 3 sisters, brother-in-law, our 2 closest friends and our 2 sons (interchanged throughout the week) spent some lovely hours doing absolutely nothing apart from eating, swimming, drinking, dozing and playing games. Unfortunately our daughter couldn’t make it as they were in Hawaii and were delayed getting back.

Brittania on The MurraySunset starting to roll in.img_3539 Most nights we just ate, played games, had a few drinks and did lots of laughing while the cockies squawked loudly around us.img_1243

In My Houseboat Kitchen.

We ate like kings! Unfortunately I seem to have waylaid a few photos but I can share the Finnish Flaxseed Sourdough load that was made from the recipe Francesca over at Almost Italian had posted, this loaf was delicious and I have been requested to make more and more and more. The recipe was spot on which always makes me happy!

Finnish Flaxseed Sourdough

I had packed some basic supplies and ran a mini ‘how to’ session for making sourdough. The house boat had a gas oven that wasn’t all that good at keeping in the heat so it needed some assistance. You do what you have to do!oven-doorThe loaf actually turned out pretty well considering, but I have had a bit of experience cooking in a dodgy or even without an oven.bread-on-boatWe had a butterflied lamb leg that my sisters purchased at the sensational butcher in Yae. The meat from there was some the best I’ve had in a very long time, roast BBQ’d lamb, lovely fresh asparagus and salad and we were happy campers on a boat.

roast-on-houseboatI was blown away by this lemon & ginger cheesecake that my niece made and was brought along by my sister as a surprise birthday celebration. It was delicious and I kept sneaking a piece every day when no one was around.img_0131-001 I took a batch of Glenda’s orange muffins as these have become somewhat addictive for us. I had made and frozen them to take, they really last the distance very well. Not sure what made me place it on the BBQ to take a picture of, but here it is, looking back at the Murray River before it gets gobbled up.img_0184-001 Before we left I made a batch of sourdough croissants with the intention of taking them with us.img_1161They didn’t make it away and they were delicious!Sourdough croissants Finally In My Kitchen back at home was the making of the Christmas pudding. As is tradition at our place, whoever is around has to have a stir for luck. Look who I found! I’m loving having our grandson around, you turn into complete idiots entertaining him and I love every minute of it!

Pudding stirring
Pudding stirring

Thanks to Liz over at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things who takes the time to link us all together for these peeks into what goes on in other kitchens.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas and holiday season. I’m pretty excited about having a kitchen to entertain and cook in this year! 🙂 

 

We have a real oven!

I had convinced myself I wouldn’t fall into the trap of starting to use the kitchen until it was completely finished. Who was I kidding? With plumber son still away on his honeymoon, we won’t be able to have the plumbing or gas works connected but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity of having the power connected to the oven so I could see if it was a win or if I would regret my choice and ‘bone up’ to living with it.

Our ever reliable electrician Amador from Safety 1st Electrical understands my passion for cooking (and I’m sure would love a few more loaves of sourdough) was more than happy to accommodate me and hook the electrics up so I could crank the new oven up. My first impression when seeing the clock light displayed was , “well at least that works”! We powered up ‘the beast’, let it go for about an hour to burn off any residual factory nasties while I was trying to work out what to cook as the first test.

Falcon FX professional ovenI had just mixed a batch of bread dough so decided  on making some sourdough muffins with the residual starter.  I didn’t really have a recipe in mind, but I knew the banana bread muffins I made a while back were good and I wanted (needed) to use up some berries that were in the freezer.

We have a winner! I was so impressed with the even temperature of the oven, the easy understanding of the instructions and the fact the timer bell didn’t drive me nuts when it chimed. These are the muffins, made and baked within 45 minutes. They are delicious and I can’t wait to start trying so many more things. I’m especially excited that I will be able to bake items over the size of a pocket-handkerchief whenever I want! Recipe is below.

Soudough fruit muffinsSourdough Fruit muffins

Panmarino, Chilli baguettes & Macaroons.

There’s nothing quite so frustrating as when you have a new toy and you don’t feel flash enough to play with it! This weekend has been a bit like that. I bought myself a new mixer, one that I have been ogling for years and due to the dropping value of our dollar, I decided to bite the bullet and buy, rather than wait until our kitchen was finished and I had somewhere to keep it. (well, that’s my justification!). I have bought an Ankarsrum assistant, made in Sweden and it is built like a workhorse. More about that in a separate post, when I feel a bit better. Even though I felt awful I wanted to run it through a few paces and get the feel for using it, as it is quite a different approach compared to traditional mixers. This is what she looks like.

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I’m really looking forward to putting this machine to work over the next few months so I can get to understand it fully. My first play session was to make some hazelnut & date macaroons. I am not a fan of the brightly coloured, perfectly shaped macaroons you see everywhere these days. The ones I have tried don’t seem to have a great depth of flavour and are just a bit too perfectly formed for my liking. This Hazelnut and Date Macaroons recipe makes a chewy macaroon that tastes great. This is the macaroon mix on the ‘toy oven‘ tray. I had to bake in a couple of batches due to size limitations.

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There was a bit of trouble communicating with my pizza oven yesterday. I think I just wasn’t up to it and kept taking shortcuts, consequently the chilli and feta baguettes I made (even though they tasted nice and had a good texture) looked like a train wreck and were burnt in spots. This is the best of the 3 I made and also a picture of the finished macaroons cooling.
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This weeks “The Italian Baker” test bake.

My bake this week from the highly acclaimed Carol Field  book, The Italian Baker, is Panmarino, or Italian Rosemary bread from the Ferrara region of northern Italy. One of the very first breads I made about 30 years ago was a complete failure and its only saving grace was that it was full of rosemary and made excellent toast. I smile and remember that bread every time I smell rosemary! I’m pleased to say that this attempt has been a far greater success. The story of how this bread came to be is that a moustached baker named Luciano Pancalde (meaning hot bread) recreated a bread he read had been served during the times of the d’Este family ruled Ferrara. ” The rosemary bread was served with a crust like sparkling diamonds……” . These diamonds are the result of sea salt being sprinkled over the star cut on the surface of the dough before baking. I baked one loaf in the ‘toy oven’ in a dutch oven, and another loaf in my ‘La Cloche‘ in the gas pizza oven. The pizza oven and I were on much better terms today!

Panmarino Bread
Loaf on left in pizza oven using La Cloche. Loaf on right in dutch oven in my Sunbeam Pizza Bake N Grill.

 

 

I guess if you imagine hard enough and maybe have a couple of vinos, the salt could resemble diamonds!

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None the less, this bread smelled magnificent as it baked and it does look impressive. I’m very happy with the recipes from this book turning out well with no unwanted surprises and quantites have all been spot on apart from some minor tweaking of water, which all bread bakers are used to.  I have also found a few sites that assist with converting using dried yeast to using sourdough starter in these recipes. I have really noticed a difference using dried yeast again, nowhere near the depth of flavour as when using natural leavening.

 

 

 

Baguettes, Walhalla, Boots, Bottles, Books and Birds.

Been a bit slow on posts recently, think the horrid weather has had a bit to do with this. I haven’t been outside much nor have I been doing a great amount inside. I have managed to read a few good books though!

Today we spent a bit of time marking out with chalk the intended design and placement of some equipment for the new kitchen. I am useless at reading plans and always complain that the finished result is not what I thought it was going to be and that nothing is where I expected it.

IMG_2251-001I dare say that even after doing this I will still get surprises!

Walhalla Road Trip

We took advantage of the lovely sunshiny day last Saturday and headed up to the historic township of Walhalla. This place just oozes history (and spookiness) and it was a great chance to spend some time with my son who now lives in Melbourne. He purchased a Land Rover a few months ago and does ‘weekend adventures’ visiting lots of interesting places.

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I managed to throw together some small egg and bacon pies, kale, feta, chilli and potato rolls. A chocolate cake from the freezer and a few freshly picked oranges from our tree to have as  picnic fare. This along with  freshly boiled billy tea is about all you need I think!

IMG_2104IMG_2202While we were eating, there were a few different birds in the scrub and I noticed a green bird that I thought resembled a green cat bird which I know are more northern based . There was also a bowerbird with it so I wasn’t that surprised when I’d Googled to discover the green bird is a juvenile Satin Bowerbird. Check out those purple eyes!

Saton bowerbird
Satin bowerbird

Just beautiful!

Hidden Treasures

Part of our extension/reno means we have to demolish a couple of the oldest parts of the property. We’ve tried but there is just no justifiable way we can preserve them. I believe these 2 rooms to be the old washhouse and  would guess the woodstore. We are going to rebuild to be similar visually but they certainly won’t have the ‘charm’ of these old ones. We found a few interesting things behind the wall lining!

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Several empty beer bottles tucked in her and there,

 

 

 

A couple old books, one a medical reference and the other a novel.

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A pair of old boots, very old I’d guess! Hand cut leather and hand stitched.

IMG_2223-002There was also a few rat nests but I didn’t think you’d enjoy me sharing those with you!

This weekend’s Bread bake

Today I made baguettes using the gas pizza oven to bake. I was so impressed with the ‘before they went into the oven’ appearance, then promptly dropped the peel when transferring them to the oven. Never mind, still turned out well, albeit a little misshapen and a few holes lighter up one end. I also did a spelt/whole-wheat loaf. Have no idea what it is meant to be like but it smells great and looks like others I have Googled, so I’ll go with it’s pretty good! 🙂

IMG_2263-001 Baguette crumb shot