In My Kitchen February 2017

Well we are back and rearing to go! A shout out to Liz over at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things for taking the time to hook us all up. Head on over and have a peek at some amazing kitchen happenings from around the world.

So what have we got going on this month? Bread, bread and lots more bread I’m afraid. I have become quite obsessed with trying as many different grains, methods and styles as I can. I have set up a Facebook Page too hoping to get more ‘local’ sourdough lovers to share their stories, learn more about making sour dough and offering tips for local suppliers of baking supplies like flour and equipment. If you are interested or have a friend who is interested tell them to come and join in. Sourdough Baking Australia & New Zealand is a closed group so people need to ask to join or be invited by Members. Some of my recent baking highlights have been; barley bread,barley breadSome home milled wholewheat blend.bestand I’ve been working on mastering the making of sourdough croissants. sweet-starter-croissantsThe finished croissant.Sourdough croissantsWhile doing some research on dough lamination, I stumbled across this youtube video  where the chef uses what he calls a ‘tarp’ for rolling his pastry. I had never heard of this concept so off to the Google Research Centre and I discovered some really interesting information about the benefits of using a pastry cloth to toll pastry on. Seemed too good to be true, so off to Spotlight for fabric and using these basic instructions I made a couple of pastry cloths. I found them to be everything they were touted to be and I love the fact many mentioned that they had their family ‘hand-me-downs’ from mothers and grandmothers tucked away in their drawers. I made a double layered large one and 2 smaller single layer ones, but after using them I think the double is much better, so I’ll just fold the smaller ones when I use them. I only dusted flour twice while rolling out these croissants. No sticking whatever. pastry-clothOf course I had to have croissant for breakfast didn’t I? Here are a couple of the finished items along with a cup of tea made in the delightful cup with a china infuser and hat that I was given for my birthday. The spotty pots are a couple of my favourites too.tea-croissants The little cap on the infuser acts as a drip tray when you remove the leaves from the cup and as a lid for the cup when not in use. I love it.infuser-cupWe have finally been able to hang some pictures that were stored and this photo is one my nephew (who is a very talented photographer) had at his exhibition. She is a peanut-seller at the market in Vietnam and he really captured the essence so well it came home with us. Unfortunately my photo doesn’t do it justice at all!peanut-lady When I left work our Parents & Friends Association very kindly gave me a voucher for my favourite shop in Warragul, String & Salt.  String & Salt  have an excellent selection of quality homewares and cooking equipment, they run some incredible cooking classes and they also sell Falcon Ovens which is where we bought ours. The key factor to being a delight to deal with, is their level of service, not easy to find these days and they shine. Anyway, I used my voucher to get this gorgeous little Burgon & Ball Trug. We are starting to get a run of tomatoes coming in, not much else I must say, I know I’ve not been as attentive this season but things just seem sparse. Neighbours and friends are all saying the same so I’m glad it isn’t just my neglect.Burton Ball TrugThen finally In My Kitchen this month is something a bit different. I’m finding undoing the car seat, high chair and pram clips are causing excruciating pain to my dodgy fingers so I went back to the Google Research Centre and found this little thing called a buckle bopper.  You rest it in the palm of your hand and the knobby bit pushes in the clip and releases it.buckle-bopper It was ridiculously expensive for what it is and there are no Australian sellers so postage was also up there but if it reduces pain levels it’s not too bad.

So that’s my lot for “In My Kitchen” this month, I’m popping over to Liz’s now

for a peek into some of the others.

Making a dough proofer and more red lentil soup.

I have really struggled posting since we returned from our trip. This has resulted, I think,  from a combination of a few things. It is so flipping cold, wet and miserable here we just haven’t been doing a lot of work, there is an element of frustration that we are so close, yet so far away from completing the target  and I fear I just keep repeating the same old thing. I need a bit of a boost and motivation (or a return to the Mediterranean) I think.

Anyway, whinge over and here is what has been happening over the last few weeks.

BREAD-

I’ve been having fun playing around with a few different concepts in relation to mixing, proving and using different flours. Because it has been so cold it is difficult to find a spot with a fairly consistent temperature to prove my dough. I have previously investigated buying a dedicated proofer but they are ridiculously expensive for what they are and the scrooge in me refuses to fall in to that black hole. Also, with baking for just ourselves, a few family and friends, it doesn’t really matter if the consistency varies a little between each batch and management of time can be adjusted to suit. Anyway, I thought I’d have a go at creating something that if really necessary, I could use. My initial experiment comes in the form of a lizard/reptile heat pad that I bought for $6.00ish (including postage) from eBay.

Reptile heat padIt has a temperature dial  and is only 5 amps so won’t use much energy. It didn’t come with an Australian plug but a quick fit of one of our travel plugs and we were off and running.

I put the mat, dough and a jug of water (to keep humidity levels up) in under a plastic storage box and monitored the temp over a few hours.

DIY prooferIt seemed to work really well, but next time I will put the bannetons on a cake rack as it did show signs of being a bit too warm on the base of the dough. I will probably use a tub that isn’t as high too. Quite happy with the result though for the first test. Temp got up to about 23 over an hour.

Bread prooferThe next experiment was using some new Teflon Baking sheets/wraps. As most of you know I’m a bit of an ‘anti-waste’ freak and Tammy from over at Gippsland Unwrapped posted about these sheets a few month ago. Because I’m baking in a cast iron pot and not on a stone, I need to use baking paper every time I bake bread. There is a wide selection of better ethical and environmental choices to make in selecting baking paper but I thought I’d try these sheets.

Teflon baking sheetThey certainly moulded to accommodate the pan quite well and they baked in my tiny little oven set to the max without any obvious issues. I haven’t researched issues such as embodied energy or outgassing but I’ll get to that later. The bread baked well but seemed to have more moisture trapped on the base than I would normally get.

IMG_8538It certainly didn’t create an issue bad enough to stop us enjoying some fresh bread with calamari, a home made tartare style sauce and a fresh salad made with lettuce from the garden, roasted capsicum and red onion drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

IMG_8534 I find store bought tartare sauce awful and home made is usually  loaded with mayo, so I adapted by mixing, greek yogurt (app 3/4 cup, maybe a generous 1/2 cup), a generous tablespoon of mayo, 1tblspn of dijon mustard, 2-3 gherkins finely chopped and about a tablespoon of capers finely chopped. S&P and mix all together, add a squeeze of lemon and it’s done. So much nicer and I would think healthier than store bought. I tend to judge a pub dining room by whether or not they make their own sauces and condiments. It takes only a minute and adds so much flavour to the meal. This lunch was with our daughter and our gorgeous grandson who turned 6 months old last week. It’s great that he is now old enough to sit up at the table in a high chair so he can get used to sharing the ‘family gathering’ food fest that will certainly be a regular event. Look, he already loves the wooden spoon!

Last of tomatoesI picked these tomatoes and rocoto chilli from the greenhouse yesterday. I think this may very well be the last of the crop although there are flowers on the tomatoes up near the roof. I’m impressed  to have picked these and it’s nearly August. Don’t hold your breath for more to follow for a while.

String & Salt ChaiSunday morning chai. We started a winter tradition of making ginger tea after we returned from India about 3 years ago. It is a beautiful brew where you bring milk, cardamon pods and ginger to the boil  then add black tea allowing it to steep for a few minutes before pouring. We tasted the chai tea String & Salt (my favourite shop in Gippsland) sell at the Warragul Farmers Market and it was really nice, very similar to our Indian brew but with a few extra punches. They sell a pack that makes a 2 litre mix so you can keep having a hit over a few days. I might have to see if I can leave a couple of containers for refills rather than have the little plastic bags each time. They are so accommodating I’m sure we can arrange something.

Comparing Red Lentil Soup

The last red lentil soup post I did related to the Turkish Bride Soup Recipe I used in the Anatolia cook book.  I didn’t have red lentils for that but it didn’t change much except the colour. Well I’m all stocked up on red lentils again so today I tried a recipe from the book Turkish Fire by Sevkap Yuce. This recipe was so simple (even after my tweaking) and was absolutely delicious.

Red Lentil SoupRed Lentil Soup with Milk from Turkish Fire. Original recipe on left, my adaptation in brackets

1/3 c olive oil (drizzle to cover bottom of pot)

1 large onion diced (1 large white and 1/2 red onion chopped)

1 Tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste (used a bit more)

1/2 cup red lentils

1 tablespoon pul biber (1 tablespoon kashmiri chilli flakes)

1 cup milk ( I omitted, using extra water)

(I also added 1 roasted red capsicum)

 

Sweat onion in oil in pan, add flour and tomato paste cook a few minutes. Add lentils, pul biber or chilli, 2 cups (3 in my case) water, roasted red capsicum and simmer until lentils are tender. I turned the heat off after about 15 minutes and let it sit until serving the next day.  Serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt, chopped parsley or herbs of choice and with crusty bread drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. I LOVED this soup!

Finally, a kitchen update.

I know, this has been going on and on and on and on for so long even I’m sick of it. The good news is that the bench tops have arrived and they are simply stunning. Can’t really see in this pic but believe me, they are great. They do need another coat of oil sealant but we love them. Cupboards are in (need a few more handles), oven is in place (not connected), floors are done and it is looking great. That vacant wall on rear left is where my 1920’s dresser that I’m restoring is going to go. Jobs left to do are:

  • Decide on and install a rangehood (hardest thing in whole project)
  • Finish restoring mantlepiece, paint and re-fit it to chimney.
  • Display shelves (same timber as benches) in alcove on right of chimney
  • Finish painting windows
  • Tiling (minimalistic)
  • Fit dishwasher and sink plumbing, connect gas & power to cooker (honeymoon son’s jobs)
  • Enjoy!

IMG_8510This photo taken 12 months ago of the wall where the cooker now sits between 2 windows and the room extended. God, I get the jitters when I think of how much work stripping that chimney has taken. Not to mention all the other jobs as well.IMG_2242-001 The photo below shows the old back of the house which was removed and the rear of the house extended. That old wall lines up to about 1/2 way along the island bench and where the new second window is. IMG_3114 Has it been worth it?

Celia’s Pork Meatballs

Now that we are in the final countdown for the open garden weekend, I thought it would be good to have a couple of things at the ready to offer our helpers. I had taken a shoulder of pork out of the freezer on Wednesday with a plan to make some sausages for a BBQ but just ran out of time. As chance would have it I was reading through my blogging friend Celia’s blog and found she had a recipe posted that was taken from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Everyday. The recipe was titled ‘Tupperware Chorizo and I thought if I made some meatballs, cooked them up and packed them into the freezer in meal sized serves they could be a handy standby meal. Sausages can wait for another day.  This was a delicious dish! I’m not sure if I followed the seasoning correctly as my hay fever was so bad I could barely read Celia’s recipe. They were quite spicy but not too much so. I sautéed  an onion in a little olive oil, added the meatballs and a stubby of my tomato passata, served topped with a little greek yogurt, some coriander and served with rice. Very nice. I just hope if I got the seasoning wrong I can redo it wrong again next time!

IMG_2673-001

The small shoulder of pork was a little over double the  recipe and it gave me the chance to test drive my new Ankarsrum mixer’s meat mincer. Oh my, compared to my old one this is heavenly. Whipped through the meat so quickly I was amazed. Didn’t have to cut the meat up into tiny little bits and I went straight to the small mincing disc first up. On my old one you had to start with big sized hole and progressively reduce the size of the disc.

Ankarsrum meat mincer or grinder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipped the machine back up and all the mince along with the rest of the recipe (plus I added an egg) went into the mixing bowl to mix it all together. Next time I’ll get smart and mince the meat straight into the bowl. Loving this machine!

Ankarsrum mixer meatballs

I made some Annabel Langbein brownies for a friends birthday, so I made a double batch and have them stored away too. The recipe called for all dates and I only had a handful so substituted prunes and added the zest of an orange. Gave them a nice jaffa flavour. Didn’t get a photo but they were beautiful! It will be lovely when I can cook in MY NEW OVEN. Yes, decision made, deposit paid and I will stop stressing. Now I just need a kitchen to put it in! I won’t have to do this anymore. Yep, do what you have to to make it fit!

Baking tray bent to fit I’ll even be able to put in 2, 3, 4 or even more. Wee bit excited! Thank you to Dave at Warragul’s sensational foodie shop String & Salt. We went to a Falcon Oven demo there and were blown away.

I think my well worn toy oven (Sunbeam pizza Bake N Grill) is experiencing some oven dementia. Maybe it senses it is about to be replaced. Is there such a thing as oven karma? Does it know we’ve paid a deposit on a new one.

I made another nut loaf in the search to find a recipe that matches what I remember as a kid. Glenda at Passionfruit Garden gave me a few leads but I’m still searching. I used this recipe Date & Nut loaf and after 40 minutes it was still raw, went another 30 minutes, still wet so went another 30 minutes and it was close to cooked. I am amazed it looks as good as it does and I had to taste test it of course, quite good. Into the freezer for this too!

Nut loaf

I can honestly say when I invested the $90 or so on the toy oven 2 1/2 years ago I had no idea it would be so good or that it would cope with me churning out a couple of hefty loaves of sourdough every week.

Sunbeam pizza bake and grill oven

 

On a completely random note, while the pork shoulder was defrosting in the fridge, it somehow was dislodged from its thawing container and as I cleaned out the fridge, I couldn’t help but remember the horrible scene from the Movie Carrie. Does anyone else remember that? Still gives me the heebie jeebies!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRWHDmCJ5mo