Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Your efforts will be rewarded... Well, not much

 I'm so excited, we've harvested our first crop!

I know I know, it's not much, but it's a beginning. Now we know that we can grow stuff!

How cool is that, uh? Look at the peas, they are so cute all cosy in the pod. The photo is blurry, did I mention how excited I was?

There was enough for a light lunch. I wanted to keep the flavours of the veggies clean so I made a very thin omelette, almost like a pancake.

I chopped the courgettes and pepper, I shelled the peas. It was hard try not to eat them all straight from the pod, so sweet!!!!

A quick sauté, just until they got some colour. I added the peas at the very last moment.

Added 3 whisked eggs, cooked it for 2 minutes on a medium heat and finished it off under the grill for 3 more minutes.

Et voilà. Tender, sweet, fresh and delicious. So satisfying!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Liz's apple pie

Ok, I'll try my best to describe her recipe. She wasn't very accurate with the mesuraments. Here we go:

350 gr flour
75 g margarine (feel free to use unsalted butter)
2 cooking apples2 large handfuls of sugar1 splash of water
1 pinch of salt

 Pre-heat oven to 200C. Cut apples into small chunks and cook them with a bit of water and sugar until they are soft, but not mushy.

Meanwhile put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the margarine. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter remaining. Lift it up high and let it fall back down into the bowl, which means that air is being incorporated all the time, that is what makes pastry light.

Using a knife, stir in just enough of the cold water to bind the dough together. I always thought a good shortcrust pastry should be made with iced-cold water and let it rest in the fridge for a while. You thought that too, don't you? She didn't bother!

 Take half of the dough and  on a floured surface and roll it out with the roller pin as thin as possible and transfer to a 18 cm pie tin. Fill it with the apple.

Roll out the other half of the dough for the pie lid, trim the excess dough and press the edges all around with your fingers. Make some cuts in the middle of the pie so the apples can steam away. Decorate as you like and brush the top of the pastry with milk.

Place the pie dish into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Put it back for 3 more minutes and it's done!

I was sure we were going to eat uncooked pastry, but we didn't!!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Soda bread

I've been into making bread lately. I've made white loaves, wholegrain, I made my own starter for sourdough, we called "dough boy" (I killed it), I've made baguettes, rolls, buns, you name it.

I spent lot of time, effort, flour and washing up liquid making bread. And you will say "oh that's OK because there's nothing like fresh baked homemade bread". And there's nothing like it until it gets cold.

I don't know if it's because there's no preservatives or because I need to practice on my technique but after a few hours the bread it's like a brick and the day after it's not good even for toast! So all the mixing, kneading and proving just for a few hours of pleasure? C'mon, go to the shop, they have nice loaves ready to eat!

But then there's the soda bread, no kneading or proofing needed, just mix all the ingredients and bake it! That's it!!

Soda bread is delicious, really crusty, rustic and beautiful! It wont last longer than the other breads either but you have a fresh loaf in less than one hour!


450g plain flour
1 level tsp caster sugar
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
350ml buttermilk or sour milk

Preheat the oven to 230°C.
 Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the buttermilk . Using one hand with your fingers outstretched like a claw, bring the flour and liquid together. Do not knead the mixture or it will become heavy. The dough should be fairly soft, but not too wet and sticky.
When it comes together, turn onto a floured work surface and bring together a little more. Pat the dough into a round about 4cm deep and cut a deep cross in it.
 Place on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200°C and cook for 30 minutes more. When cooked, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base and be golden in colour. I use turn it upside down for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool on a wire rack.