Monthly Archives: November 2009

Soft Bread Rolls

I’ve been having good successes with bread for a while now but I usually stick to the same recipe because it works and makes excellent bread.  However, while excellent, I was after a bread roll with a soft crust instead of a nice crusty one.  While sometimes a crusty bread roll is exactly what you need at others you really need something easy to bite, for example a bun to go round a burger.  I had thought I was going to have to find a completely new recipe to get this softness in my rolls.  Luckily I stumbled upon a tip that was so ridiculously simple it was brilliant.  Brush the bread rolls with melted butter when they come out of the oven.  So simple and it works! 

I changed the recipe from my usual a little bit as I’ve been experimenting with a few different things with my bread recently I find using milk instead of water makes a very nice bread and the top comes out slightly darker.  On a crusty loaf it seems to make a delicious chewy blistered crust with nice flavour.  But essentially this is the same as my regular bread and a doddle to make. 

Makes 6 small rolls, 4 large

250g strong bread flour
4g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
150ml milk, warm
2 tbsp olive oil
a little melted butter

– Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl. 
– Make a well in the centre and add the milk and oil. 
– Mix until it forms a dough then turn out onto a floured worksurface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and soft. 
– Lightly oil a bowl using your hands and then continue to knead the dough with your oil  hands until the oil is worked in. 
– Put the dough in the oiled bowl and move around so it’s covered in oil. 
– Place in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. *
– Knock down the dough and knead it for a minute. 
– Divide the dough into the portions you want and shape into round balls by pinching the bottom sides together until you have a smooth top. 
– Place on a baking tray and gently flatten a little with the heel of your hand. 
– Repeat for each ball of dough. 
– Leave to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes until the dough has roughly doubled again. 
– Bake for 10 minutes at gas mark 7. 
– Remove from the oven and immediately brush the tops generously with melted butter. 
– Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

* I’ve started to rise bread in front of the fire now that it’s getting frosty.  I place it on the hearth with a glass bowl over the top to keep out the drafts.  Seems to work very well!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Breads, Easy

100th Recipe Celebration Cake

Yay!  This is my 100th recipe posted here!  To celebrate I made a cake.  Chocolate cakes and I have a tricky relationship.  I’m very demanding when it comes to chocolate cakes.  I am after perfection!  I’m not sure I’m quite there yet but this is the best chocolate cake I’ve made yet.  It’s moist and fudgey and squishy but not too rich.  It’s quite dense but stops just short of being called brownie-like.  The best thing about it is that it can be thrown together in a blender or mixer if you don’t want to do it by hand.  It was ridiculously easy.  All in all this cake was a success. 

I was going to do fantastic things icing this cake.  I made fondant icing from scratch, well, a box of fondant icing sugar.  But I had to get the Kenwood out to mix it and spent over an hour rolling it out.  Blood, sweat and tears went into this icing, literally.  Then I finally had it rolled out to the right size.  I went to pick it up to drape it over the cake and… DISASTER.  It stuck to the plastic sheets I’d been rolling it out between and then it stuck to itself and then it fell apart.  I honestly don’t know if it was too wet, sticky, or too dry, cracked into pieces.  But I cried. 

So I just stopped with the buttercream icing and decided that may be I should practice with ready rolled a bit first.  Learn to walk before I try running if you will.  As for the decorations… well, I have the artistic ability of a drunken ferret.  I love edible ball bearings and all baked goods should be blessed with them.   Strawberries or raspberries would look great on this but they’re out of season at the minute so I used raspberry jelly sweets instead.  A layer of fresh fruit inside would be nice too. 

Makes 1×8″ cake

For the cake:
225g granulated sugar
200g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
120ml milk
60ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
120 ml boiling water

For the buttercream*:
180g plain chocolate
225g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

– Heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 and prepare two 8″ sandwich tins. 
– In a large bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa**, baking powder and salt. 
– Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla essence to the dry ingredients and mix well.  It make seem very dry but keep at it.  It will come together to form a dough.  Keep mixing until it is a smooth, even consistency. 
– Add the water and mix thoroughly. 
– Pour the batter into the two tins.  If you want completely equal layers you can weigh them but I usually do it by eye. 
– Smooth the batter out so it is even. 
– Bake for 25-30 minutes.  You will be able to see if the centre is uncooked and a skewer inserted will come out clean. 
– Make up the buttercream by melting the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Allow to cool.   
– Cream together the butter and the icing sugar and then add the vanilla essence. 
– Mix well then add the melted chocolate and stir thoroughly until everything is combined. 
– Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
– Once completely cool fill between the two cakes and ice all over with the buttercream using a palette knife to smooth it over the cake. 
– Decorate as you wish. 

* I only made 2/3 this amount and it needed more so expect better coverage than seen in the photo. 
**Sift this in or you will get lumps.

5 Comments

Filed under Cakes, Easy

Japanese Hamburger

This is based on a dish I used to have at a restaurant in Tokyo and loved!  You don’t technically have to serve it in the foil parcels as I have but it does give the meat time to take up a little of the flavour of the sauce and you can get on with other things while you leave them in the oven so it’s a good prep ahead then pop it in the oven meal.  This was usually served with a baked potato but I chose to have chips tonight as I was in the mood.  I’ve also had the burger wrapped in bacon and served with a different sauce or may be no sauce but I can’t for the life of me remember!  I’m working on it. 

This is a good basic hamburger recipe too and I’m sure would make an excellent burger in a bun on its own.  I love Japanese  style Western food.  So often they take a staple Western food and do wonderful things with it that we would never have thought to do because we’re so used to doing something particular.  Although I am informed that this is similar to a Salisbury Steak in America.  What I do know is it’s delicious!

I’m dying of cold at the moment so if anything doesn’t make sense here drop me a line and I’ll fix in once I am able to breathe and think again!

Makes 6

For the burger:
1 small onion, finely chopped
500g minced beef
200g sausage meat
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
pepper to taste

For the sauce:
150g baby button mushrooms, sliced
red wine*
1 beef stock cube made up into stock*
3 tbsp ketchup
corn flour

– First lightly fry the onion in a little oil until soft.  Allow to cool a little. 
– Put everything in a bowl and mix it together with your hand. 
– Divide the mixture roughly into 6. 
– Gather a portion of the meat in your hand.  Roll into a ball then throw the ball forcefully back and forth in your hands to force out the air and flatten it into a patty. 
– Gently shape the patty to a circle and create a small hollow so the patty is thinner in the middle.  (This allows you to get a flat burger as it compensates for any swelling during cooking.)
– Place the patties on a large plate or chopping board and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably about an hour. 

– Melt a small knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms until just browning.  Set aside. 
– Sprinkle the burgers with a pinch of salt and prepare the foil sheets. 
– Fry the burgers in a large frying pan or griddle.  Give about 4 minutes each side.  Don’t move the burger about once you’ve placed it in the pan until it’s time to turn it or it will fall apart. 
– Place the burger in the centre of the sheet of foil and top with a spoonful of mushrooms. 

– Deglaze the pan with red wine (tip it in and scrape off any cooked on bits). 
– Add the stock and reduce until starting to thicken. 
– Add the ketchup and stir in continue to reduce. 
– If necessary add a little cornflour slaked in a little water to thicken the sauce.  It needs to be quite viscous slow moving. (Make sure to taste the sauce as it can need a little more ketchup to cut the saltiness of the stock cube.) 
– Pour a little sauce over each burger.

– Fold the foil up into a tent and fold together the edges to seal.  Then fold in the sides to seal those. 

– Place the parcels on a baking tray and place in the oven at around gas mark 5 for 10-15 minutes until everything is piping hot again.  (If preparing ahead cook for around 30 minutes to ensure food is piping hot all through.)
– When you’re ready simply put the parcel on a plate to serve. 

* I only cooked sauce for 1 tonight so I can’t speak as to actual quantities.  I just poured!

1 Comment

Filed under Japanese, Mains, Moderately easy

Homemade Chips

I’m all for oven chips.  They’re great.  Not much fat and the perfect vehicle for sauce.  But you never eat an oven chip and go, “mmm”, do you?  Sometimes you need a proper deep fried chip.  Fat be damned!  Tonight was one of those nights. 

I was afraid of the deep fat frier for a long time.  It’s boiling oil!!!  But I faced up to my fears one night and discovered that actually, it’s not so scary after all.  So long as you’re careful and don’t go sticking your fingers in or anything like that it’s not the hideously dangerous exercise I thought it might be!  I’ll fry all sorts of things now where previously I’d have found a way round it so give it a go! You might just surprise yourself. 

Allow about 2 average potatoes per person.  Judge it by eye. 

– Switch on the deep fat frier and allow it to get up to temperature. 
– Peel the potatoes and cut into half, or thirds, dependent upon the size of your potato and then slice into chip sized chunks. 
– Scatter into the frier to separate out the slices.  If you have more chips than cover the bottom of the basket then do this in batches. 
– Lower the basket into the oil, shut the lid and cook for 6 minutes. 
– Take out and put in a warm dish lined with kitchen paper and keep warm.  Cook the next batch and do the same then set aside while you cook  the rest of the meal. 
– Just before you are ready to serve tip the chips back into the fryer in one batch and fry for another 2 minutes. 
– Tip back into a warm, lined bowl and serve. I always serve with a sprinkle of ground salt but if you’d rather add salt at the table then do so.

1 Comment

Filed under Easy, Sides

Flower Arranging

This isn’t a food post but I did spend a good hour in my kitchen today doing this as well as picking all of the things to make it so I thought I’d post it here.  I like flower arranging, having fresh flowers in the house is such a simple thing that makes such a difference to my mood.  During winter I usually prefer not to have the gaudy out of season flowers you see in supermarkets and content myself with some roses.  But Christmas gives me an excellent excuse to exercise my more extravagant side!

I admit I may have got carried away! 

But I picked everything myself and it all came from within a mile of the house, how’s that for economical!  I had a lot of fun doing this and had to use all of the tricks I learned during my classes in Japan to get this to work.  My hands are prickled all over, teasles are a nightmare on their own but holly and teasles together can be plain torture!  It’s a shame I don’t go to church as I do have a tendency to lean towards church sized arrangements.  I’m doing a table centrepiece tomorrow that I shall try to keep in scale!

Part II

I finished the centrepiece!  It’s more or less the size I wanted it too.  I also bought a new christmas tablecloth.  It’s made of that plastic material (PVC?) so all spills can be dealt with.  I’m taking a break from the holly after this, my hands are ruined! What with that and rootling in hedges for sloes and crab apples I’m scratched to bits! 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Layered Enchiladas

Wow, what a week it has been!  I’ve been pushing my cooking boundaries already this week and I had to do it again today with the Tortillas.  It’s been a busy few days and I lost a few hours to that little mishap.  I’ve updated the index here again and I’m going to try to keep on top of it this time.  I’m coming up on 100 recipes!  Yes, there will be cake.  I’m generally working hard to get this blog to be the best I can make it.  I’m also hoping to also be able to participate in Adopt-A-Blogger #4 over at Dine & Dish which will hopefully mean improvements around here.  But that’ll be after the christmas madness.  I’m already preparing to go gourmet with the gifts this year.  I have a bunch of recipes lying about that’ll be just perfect for so-and-so so I’m gearing up to get cracking with those.  I hope you’re all getting ready for an excellent holiday season, I know I’ll be stepping up on the Christmas recipes any day now!

Anyway, on to tonight’s dinner!  These Layered Enchiladas were just supposed to be ordinary enchiladas, however, due to the supermarket tortillas going off and my first attempt at tortillas turning out rather brittle I had to go for Layered Enchiladas.  I have to say I am impressed with  how well they turned out.  Instead of having a wrap we each ended up with a slice of ‘enchilada pie’, which was actually really handy for portion control.  This certainly went down well with my dad who asked for seconds, which is almost unheard of!

Serves 4

1 pack tortillas or make your own with my recipe here.
~200g grated cheese 
500g passata
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 chicken breasts, sliced
1 tsp chilli powder
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
1x400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 green pepper, chopped

– First make the sauce.  Saute the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt in a little oil until soft. 
– Then add the chicken and stir until cooked all over. 
– Add the chilli powder and chopped chilli.  Stir well. 
– Pour in the chopped tomatoes with a little water to rinse out the tin. 
– Add the sugar and tomato puree and stir until mixed. 
– Bring to a simmer and add the green pepper. 
– Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce thickens. 
– Assemble the enchiladas in a greased baking dish either in the traditional way or:
– Place a tortilla on the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle lightly with grated cheese then add a few spoonfuls the sauce and spread over the tortilla. 
– Add another tortilla on top.  Pour a little passata over and spread over the tortilla.  Sprinkle with cheese. 
– Add another tortilla and sprinkle with cheese.  Add sauce and spread out. 
– Repeat alternating layers of sauce and passata until all of the tortillas have been used making the last layer passata covered with a good layer of cheese on the very top. 
– Bake in a hot oven at gas mark 6 for around 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and everything warmed through. 
– Serve in slices while hot. It’s really good with creme fraiche and avocado slices.

2 Comments

Filed under Easy, Mains

Homemade Tortillas

Tonight we had enchiladas for dinner.  I was all prepped and organised, I’d made the sauce and done all of my prep as I had to go out and would only get back in time to eat.  Then I got the tortilla wraps out.  Disaster!  They’d gone off.  I knew that mum had made flour tortillas once before so it had to be doable and set off to google a quick recipe for tortillas.  I found two that looked good (love recipes with pictures!) and since they were both the same recipe with very different ratios I sort of took a stab at somewhere in the middle and made it up as I went a long.  With hindsight I’d use double the fat if I make these again and cook them for no more than 20 seconds each side.  As it was these tortillas were very stiff, when I tried to make an enchilada with one it cracked into six pieces.  No worries though, dinner became Layered Enchiladas!  But first here is the basic recipe for tortillas.

Makes 6 dinner plate sized ones, probably 8 smaller

250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
50g lard or butter(I used 25g lard*)
100ml warm water plus extra as needed

– Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. 
– Rub in the lard or butter using your fingers. 
– Add the water and mix well.  Add water 1 tbsp at a time mixing between additions until a soft dough has formed. 
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. 
– Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes. 
– Turn out and lightly knead for a minute. 
– Divide into equal portions. 
– Cover any balls of dough you are not working with. 
– Heat a dry frying pan on the hob. 
– Roll out the ball of dough until paper thin.  Aim for a circle but tidy up the shape by stretching the dough out into shape with your hands.  This requires elbow grease.  When I say paper I mean it!
– Pick up and carefully place flat in the very hot frying pan. 
– Cook for 20-30 seconds each side.  Just scare it with the frying pan, don’t leave it or it will dry out too much. 
– Place the cooked tortillas under a tea towel in a warm place. 
– Repeat for each ball.

*Lard has a bad reputation but can actually be better for you than than butter.  I think it has less saturated fat and less cholesterol but I’m not certain just how much better it is.  Either way it doesn’t deserve the bad rep. it has.

1 Comment

Filed under Breads, Moderately easy