Monthly Archives: July 2009

Easy Overnight White Bread Recipe

Hands up, who’s afraid of making bread?

DON’T PANIC.  Four days ago I was one of you.  Turns out bread is really simple. Even if it doesn’t come out absolutely perfect bread is bread and this recipe really is easy. 

The really convenient part for me is that you can do the hard work the night before, chuck it in the fridge then the next day a couple of hours before you want the bread you do the last few bits and chuck it in the oven.  Simple.  I would say that the active time it takes to make this bread is no more than 25 minutes, the rest is simply doing something else while the dough does the hard work. 

I’ve tried to put an explaination for techniques at the bottom, four days ago I didn’t know what they meant and google will provide you with dozens of diferent answers, these are mine others may disagree.  If you know what you’re doing, great, if you don’t I hope this will help. 

Makes 1 loaf

500g strong white flour plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
1 sachet fast action yeast (usually 6 or 7g)
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water

– Mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. 
– Make a well in the centre then add the oil and water. 
– Mix well until a dough is formed and all the ingredients are well combined. 
– When it’s too hard to continue with the spoon tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead* with your hands, use a little flour on them too, until it is satiny smooth (about 10 mins). 
– Place the dough in a lighty oiled bowl, cover with cling film and then place in the fridge overnight. Or leave for approx. 1 hour in a warm, draft free environment or until doubled in size.  Slower rising in the fridge is said to improve the flavour of your bread.
– When the bread has risen take it out of the fridge and ‘knock it down’.**
– Place your dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and gently shape it as you want. 
– Leave covered in a warm draft free area for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 
– Heat your oven to Gas Mark 7 and place an oven proof dish with about 1/2″ of hot water in the bottom of the oven to provide steam during baking. 
– Dust the loaf with flour and slash a few strokes in the top with a very sharp knife. 
– Place in the oven and bake for half an hour.  To test if your loaf is done check that it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. 
– Place on a wire rack to cool.  The longer you can resist eating it the better as it allows the bread to settle. 

*Do a sort of very concentrated breast stroke using the heels of your hands to push the dough forwards, stretch to the sides and pull the dough back round then repeat.

**Punch the centre of the dough with your fist then gather in the dough from the sides, knead lightly for a minute or so.  This is to remove the air and redistribute the yeast so it can continue to rise. 


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Filed under Breads, Easy

Elderflower Cordial Recipe

I made this a few months back and have only just got round to putting the recipe up.  It’s too late for elderflowers now but keep it in mind for next year.  I’m well known for drinking nothing but diet coke and I think this stuff is delicious!

Makes around 2.5 litres

1.3kg sugar
1.8 litres boiling water
25 very fresh large elderflower heads
50g citric acid*
2 medium oranges, sliced
2 large lemons, sliced

– Put the sugar ina large bowl or pan (I used a jam pan) and pour on the boiling water.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and leave to cool for 30 mins. 
– Meanwhile pluck the flowers from the stalks, making sure to remove any bugs.  You can leave little bits of stalk in but nothing too thick or it will spoil the flavour. 
– Add the citric acid, sliced fruit and flowers to the sugar syrup, stir well and then cover and leave in a cool place to infuse for 24 hours stiring from time to time. 
– After 24 hours heat the oven to Gas Mark 1 and put 3 or 4 thoroughly washed and rinsed screw top wine bottles in for 15 minutes.  Remove and leave to cool for another 15 mintues.  Put the tops in boiling water for a few minutes to sterilise them. 
– Strain the elderflower liquid through a seive lined with muslin or a clean teatowel making sure there are no bits. 
– Pour into the prepared bottles, seal and leave to cool.   When cool place in a cool dark place to store, or perferably a fridge. 
– Drink diluted with cold fizzy or tonic water. 

*Can be bought from most traditional chemists, you usually have to ask as apparently heroin addicts use it for something and so they restrict access.

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Filed under Drinks, Easy

Chicken Liver Pate Recipe

I love this recipe as it’s a delicious way of getting liver into my diet.  How something so gross looking makes something so delicious is beyond me!  It’s also exceedingly cheap as presently a 227g tub of frozen chicken livers costs around 44p.  Can’t argue with value like that!

Makes 4 ramekins

2 bacon rashers, chopped
225g chicken livers
1 clove garlic, crushed
150g butter
1 tbsp mixed herbs
generous pinch ground pepper
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp cream

– Put the bacon in a medium sized microwavable bowl, cover and microwave on full power for 1 minute. 
– Add the livers, garlic, 100g of the butter, the herbs and the pepper.  Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes, stir and then cook for another 2 1/2 minutes.  
–  Add the sherry and the cream, blend either in a liquidiser or with a hand blender until smooth. 
– Divide the mixture between 4 ramekins or other containers of your choice. 
– Melt the remaining 50g of butter and pour on top or each serving of pate. 
– Allow to cool completely then chill for at least 2 hours. 

Serving suggestion: Goes very well with Easy Overnight White Bread


Filed under Easy, Starters

Creamy Pasta Sauce Recipe

This ‘recipe’ has endless variations, some of which I shall try to give here.  It’s a good, quick sauce that is ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta.  Use your own judgement on how much to use dependent upon how many people you need to feed in most cases these quantities feed 4. 

Creamy Mushroom Sauce

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8 mushrooms, sliced
300ml creme fraiche
1 tbsp herbes de provence

– Fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt for a few minutes in a pan then add the mushrooms.  Fry until soft and reduced. 
– Add the creme fraiche and herbes de provence and stir thoroughly.  Continue to gently heat until heated through. 
– Serve with pasta or gnocchi. 

Variation – Add slivers of cooked wafter ham/frozen peas/spinach after the creme fraiche for a more colourful version and simmer until cooked. 
This sauce is also excellent served with chicken breasts and rice or pasta. 

Creamy Chicken and Pesto Sauce

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
300ml creme fraiche
3 tbsp red pesto
2 tbsp tomato puree

– Gently fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until soft. 
– Add the chicken breast and cook until browned. 
– Add the creme fraich, pesto and tomato puree, stil until thoroughly combined and heat through. 
– Serve with pasta or gnocchi. 

Variations – Add a few handfuls of baby spinach and stir through the sauce, leave to cook until wilted then serve.  And excellent addition to this sauce after cooking is mozerella.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Easy Tomato Sauce Recipe

Serves 4

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tins chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp herbes de provence

– Gently fry the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt in oil until soft. 
– Add the tinned tomatoes and half a can of water then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. 
– Cover and simmer on a low heat for half an hour stirring periodically.*
– Serve with pasta and mozerella. 

* The full flavours will develop in this time, if you’re in a rush just don’t add the extra water and heat until it’s bubbling then serve.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Serves 4 hungry people

1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g minced beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 beef stock cube
3 tbsp herbes de provence
good pinch pepper

– Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil with a pinch of salt in a large pan for a few minutes until soft. 
– Add the beef and cook until browned.
– Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly so all the ingredients are evenly combined. 
– Simmer for 45 minutes with a lid on stiring periodically to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 
– Serve with spaghetti and grated parmesan.  

Variations – I like to have mushrooms in this, I think it’s a hang over from school dinners.  Just add a few sliced ones along with the tomatoes.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

American Pancakes Recipe

ETA: Updated recipe now found HERE

Makes 6 small pancakes

135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
130ml milk
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp butter, melted and allowed to cool

– Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  
– In a jug measure out the milk needed then add the egg and whisk together.  Then add the melted butter and mix again. 
– Add the contents of the jug to the bowl and thoroughly beat together until you have a smooth batter and all lumps are removed. 
– Let the mixture stand for a few minutes.
– Heat a nonstick frying pan and lightly grease it with a little butter. 
– Carefully ladle the batter onto the pan and wait until you see bubbles all over the pancake before flipping it using a spatula.  Cook until golden on both sides. 
– Place your cooked pancakes on a warm plate covered in a teatowel to keep the warm until you’re ready to eat them. 
– Enjoy with blueberry conserve and squirty cream or maple syrup and squirty cream or even just with butter.

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Filed under Easy, Teatime Treats

Baked Cheesecake Recipe

Serves 10

75g butter, melted
12 digestive biscuits
2 large eggs
400g soft cheese
1 small orange
1 unwaxed lemon
125g caster sugar
4tbsp creme fraiche

– Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 and grease the inside of a 20cm loose bottomed or sprong cake tin. 
– Put the biscuits in a freezer bag and gently crush them with a rolling pin until they are crumbs. 
– Mix the biscuits with the melted butter and press evenly into the bottom of the tin to make a firm base. 
– Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the soft cheese, beat thoroughly. 
– Grate the zest of the orange and the lemon into the mixture and add 3tbsp of the juice of each. 
– Add the sugar and the creme fraiche and beat thoroughly until smooth. 
– Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the biscuit base. 
– Bake for 30-35 mins. 
– If possible turn off the heat and leave it in the oven until both are cool, preferably overnight.  If not simply remove from the oven and leave to cool, again preferably overnight.  The texture of the cake is much improved by letting it stand for this time.  The faster the cake cools the more likely it is to crack although sometimes no matter what you do it will crack anyway as you can see below. 
– Run a knife around the edge of the tin to loosen it and then remove from the tin and place on a plate. 

– Add 75g fresh blueberries to the mixture for blueberry cheesecake.
– Make with ginger biscuits and lime instead of the orange for ginger and lime cheesecake.
– Make with Oreos for both the base and stir through cushed Oreos for an Oreo cheesecake.  

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Smoked Mackerel Pate Recipe

250g smoked mackerel
250g cottage cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp horseradish sauce
pinch of pepper

– Remove the skin off the fish and carefully shred the fish with your fingers, removing any bones. 
– Put all of the ingredients into a blender and thoroughly blend until completely smooth. 
– Spoon into your chosen dish(es)* and chill for a few hours.
– Serve with hot toast and butter. 

*This makes an excellent starter if spooned into individual ramekin dishes, should make 6.  Otherwise fills approx. two small pie dishes.

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Filed under Easy, Starters, Uncategorized