Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Our first IPA

Just in case you didn't know, we were making beer.

Look at this. Not too bad, eh?

Here you can see my arms reflected on the glass. I've never said I could take photos

Last Saturday was the oficial tasting day. Obviously we didn't wait until Saturday, but trust me it's better to wait.

As good adopted Edinburgers (or whatever you call the citizens of Edinburgh) our IPA of reference is Deuchars and it's not a reliable beer. I mean that you don't always get a good pint.

Although our IPA is slightly cloudy we haven't had a bad pint so far, even when it wasn't quite ready to drink, but yes, every pint is different. It's because the yeast settles in layers, or something like that.

Final veredict: Oh yes, we've made some good beer!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Beef and Guinness Stew

Mental note: If I want to post about something I've cooked, I shouldn't wait a month to write about it.

Well, the thing is that I spent a few months in Dublin 10 years ago (OMG) and I didn't have any beef and Guinness stew, but I've always wanted to try it.

I know, it's August (July when I cooked the stew) and probably where you live is sunny and toasty and the last thing you want to eat in summer is a stew. But hey, I live in Scotland, these rules are not applied here.

I love cooking stews, well, actually I love to make anything that takes time to cook. It gives me a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Because let's face it, you can spend time, money and effort on things, but not always the results are what you expected.

One thing is sure, get a few veggies, some good stock, wine, beer or whatever liquid you fancy to cook with, a cheap cut of meat and cook it until it melts. For sure your house will be filled with wonderful aromas, and you will get chunks of meat tender like butter and that liquid will turn into the most amazing liquor that's warm and rich. Hundred per cent guaranteed.

I used feather steak. A cheap and ugly cut with unappetising connective tissue in the middle, but that means it is perfect for slow-cooking.

Recipe adapted from BBC GoodFood

  • 1 large onions, diced
  • a few thyme sprigs 
  • 1 garlic clove , crushed
  • olive oil
  • 500g braising steak , cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp plain flour , well seasoned 
  • A handful of quarted mushrooms
  • 250ml Guinness
  • beef stock fresh, cube or concentrate made up to 125ml (I used fresh chicken stock)
  • parsley, choppe (I didn't have any)

  1. Cook the onions, thyme and garlic with a little olive oil in a large casserole until the onion is softened and translucent. Dust the braising steak in the seasoned flour and brown in a hot pan with a little oil.
  2. When the beef has a good, even colour, add it to the pan with the onions and pour in the Guinness. Top up with the stock to just cover the beef.
  3. Cover and simmer over a very low heat or transfer to a 150C oven for 2-3 hours until the beef is meltingly tender (check after 2 hours). When is half way cooked add the mushrooms.Season to taste and add some chopped parsley.

    Friday, 19 August 2011

    Pear Butter

    What do you do with 3kg of pears?

    Paul, obviously wanted to make pie and he made a sort of covered tart tatin. He firmly believes that pie must have pastry on top as well as the bottom.

    I wanted to do some kind of preserve, something we could eat either sweet or with savoury stuff, but easy enough since I'm a newbie in the world of canning.

    This are the pears left after the tatin

    So I googled "glut of pears" and found this recipe. Pear butter? It was the first time I came across with this term, but I liked the idea, spreadable pear! Not exactly jam or sauce, but maybe closer to what I know as a compote. And you can have it on toast or with some roasted meat.

    The pears were quite small and on the under ripe side, but they were starting to fall off the tree so we decided to harvest them before the wasps arrived.

    That's the recipe:

    • 1.5kg of hard pears (peeled, cored and sliced)
    • 2 cups of water  (you can always add more if the mixture gets dry)
    • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
    • Half a tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 cup of white granulated sugar

    1. Put the sliced pears, lemon juice and water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat gently until the pears soften completely. Stir every now and then to stop the pears sticking. 
    2. Puree the soft pears.
    3. Add the lemon zest, sugar and nutmeg. Stir well and let the mixture thicken over a very low heat. When the mixture can be heaped on a teaspoon I poured it into hot sterilised jars and sealed them with plastic lined metal lids immediately. Process them in a hot water bath for ten minutes.
    You can play with the flavours and the spices!

    Tuesday, 16 August 2011

    We are making beer!!

    Yes we are, it's happening right now while I'm typing this. There's a 5 gallon barrel brewing in our garage and it's exciting!

    We started six days ago and it's going to be Indian Pale Ale.

    For those who are not familiar with the IPA, basically it's pale ale (made with less roasted malts) brewed for export to India and other places of the British Empire keeping this name nowadays.

    We had to sterilise this huge bucket and the rest of the equipment, the best place was the tub.

    Then we had to mix the hopped malt with the spray dried malt extract.

    We poured the mix into the big bucket, added 6 pints of boiling water and topped up with cold water to 5 gallons. Then we stirred in the yeast, put the lid on and left it for 6 days.

    We left it fermenting in the lounge. Yes, where we watch telly, so while we were there on the sofa the bucket was making all this bubbly, gurgley, farting little noises.

    Yesterday was the 6th day, so with the help of a siphon and very sophisticated logistics we transferred the brew from the bucket to the pressure barrel and added more malt extract.

    Now we have to wait 16 more days, and the beer hopefully will be clear and delicious.

    5 gallons = 23 litres = Lots of beer!!!

    Sunday, 14 August 2011

    Peach crumble pie

    A quick post to introduce my proposal for the  la recepta del 15 challenge. This month is all about peaches!

    I've chosen this recipe because it's so easy to prepare and I had all the ingredients in the kitchen. It's like a double crumble to put it in some way. Actually it reminds to a German Streusel.


    For the filling:

    3 diced peeled peaches
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon cornstarch
    1 cup granulated sugar
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

    For the dough:

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Cinnamon and sugar-for sprinkling on top

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

    2. For the peach filling- place the diced peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and carefully combine. Set aside.

    3. For the dough-in a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until butter is mixed in, but you still have small chunks of butter. Mix the vanilla and egg together. Add into the flour and butter mixture and combine. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.

    4. Spread the peach mixture evenly over the bottom crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

    5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

    El vam menjar tebi tal qual, però amb un bon gelat de vainilla ha de quedar un postr la mar de complet.

    Wednesday, 10 August 2011

    Pull apart garlic bread

    I read many food blogs, I listen to several podcasts, I'm on Pinterest and it's all about pull-a-part bread these days so I had to try it myself.

    Is a really fun bread to make although not the most straightforward one, it's like playing tetris with dough!

    But believe me it worth the effort. I made a garlic herby version, but it can be made with cheese, olives, cinnamon, nuts, chocolate, fruit... OK, I have to stop now, I'm starting to drool.

    Because of the layers, the crumb is incredible tender, moist, light and very addictive. Trust me it's seriously good!

    The lavender it's not relevant, but it's from the garden and it smells lovely.

    Recipe adapted from here

    4 cups all-purpose flour
    a pinch of salt
    2 tsp of dry yeast
    1 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
    1/2 cup of olive oil
    1 tsp of dry oregano
    1 tsp of dry basil
    5 grated garlic cloves
    A pinch of salt

    I know, it looks messy, but aren't they the best things in life?

    In your mixer bowl cream the yeast with a little milk. When the yeast has dissolved pour the rest of the milk.

    Slowly add the flour mixing until the dough comes clean from the sides of the bowl.  Place the dough into a greased bowl and leave to rest at room temperature until it doubles in volume.

    When risen divide it into 12 balls and flatten them. 

    To make the filling mix the grated garlic, olive oil, herbs and seasoning and brush over the flatten dough. Seal the pocket with a fork or with your fingers and place it in a greased loaf pan. Do the same with the rest.

    Leave again to rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour and bake in preheated oven, at 190C, for about 35-40 minutes.

    Leave to cool a little and get it out of the pan.

    Saturday, 6 August 2011


    And here we have another recipe I fell for when I arrived here. Actually what it made me fall in love was the smoked haddock.

    In Catalunya we don't use to smoke fish a lot, of course you can find smoked salmon in the grocery shops, but haddock... I don't even know how to translate it in Catalan. What we've got is salted cod and you know what? I think it might work! So if anybody there is brave enough to try, please let me know how it has turned out.

    It is believed that the dish was brought to the United Kingdom by returning British colonials who had enjoyed it in India and introduced it to the UK as a Breakfast dish in Victorian times, part of the then fashionable Anglo-Indian cuisine.

    As you can imagine that's too fishy/spicy for my taste as breakfast, but I love it for supper! There are a lot of variations, but here you have the one I made earlier this evening.

    Ingredients (adapted from The Good Cook:

    • 40g butter
    • 2 tsp garam masala 
    • 250g basmati rice
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 lemon, zest only
    • 2 mild green chillies, seeded, chopped
    • 1 small piece fresh root ginger, finely grated
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 375ml chicken stock
    • 400g un-dyed smoked haddock 
    • 2 free-range eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, grated
    • 2 spring onion sliced

      1. Preheat the oven to 180C
      2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based lidded casserole. Add the garam masala and allow to sizzle gently for a moment. Tip in the rice and stir around until the grains are well coated with this spicy butter.
      3. Add the bay leaf, lemon zest, green chilli, ginger and a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the stock, bring up to a simmer, then lay the fish on top, gently submerging it under the surface. Put on the lid and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
      4. Remove from the oven, then leave to stand for 5-7 minutes without removing the lid; this is important - it allows the rice to finish cooking.
      5. Take off the lid, remove the skin from the fish and immediately add the chopped egg and onions using two forks, gently mix the rice, while also breaking the fish into flakes and mixing everything else in as you go. Remove the bay leaf and cover with a tea towel, clamp on the lid, and leave for a further five minutes to remove any excess steam. Mix again lightly.
      6. Serve and squeeze over a little lemon juice.