Thursday, May 03, 2012

Worth Doing?

Yesterday's experiment (adding more strong flour/water to a bread mix) worked very well. For ease of measurement I I wanted to make the water up from 350ml to 400ml (one seventh more), so I needed to add one seventh more of flour (working on the mix weighing 500g), which was near as dammit 70g, and used strong white bread flour to do this (even though the mix was for making brown bread),
Once the dough was made, knocked it back, cut of a chunk (forgot to weigh this, but it wasn't large), put the big piece in the loaf tin to begin rising, and then cut the remainder into ten pieces (each about the size of a small walnut). Then rolled each between my fingers to make a 'pencil' shape, then rolled it on a floured board that had been liberally sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, to made 10 'breadsticks'. Below you can see both the loaf and breadsticks after they have been baked. The breadsticks were baked in the oven after the bread and at a lower temperature after the first 5 minutes so they would dry out as well as being baked. This is why they look paler than the loaf.

Because this particular bread mix (Tesco's @ 69p) makes a good loaf that rises rapidly, and despite adding only flour/water and no more yeast the above still rose as rapidly, feel that there is enough yeast there to add at least 250g MORE of strong flour to gain a 1lb loaf (as well as the 2lb loaf), for very little extra cost.
Having toasted a slice from the above loaf for my breakfast this morning, have to say it has still made a very good loaf, and personally like the addition of the white flour as it seems to have made it 'best of both'. Will be doing this again (and again, and again...).

Thank you for your comments. There was one from an Anonymous (but sent via the 'More In Store' posting so you'd have to look there to find it). He/she seems to find my cooking and presentation too difficult to understand. Do hope not everyone feels this way. My new site will be so easy that you will be able to cook just about everything without even having to think much about what you are doing. That's the idea anyway.

I too loved watching the Hairy Biker's Bakeation, minimiser deb. They are making a new series in which they are aiming to lose around 2 stone each, so presumably the programme will be full of low fat low calorie dishes. Myself tend to 'go off' people when they change shape, because I loved them just as they used to be. Dawn French, Pauline Quirke, even Victoria Wood, all much thinner now, and just as funny no doubt, still don't appeal to me as much as they used to. A bit of weight loss doesn't come amiss, it's when they lose about 8 stones they become 'someone else'. At least 2 stone shouldn't make THAT much difference (I had to lose 5 stone before I noticed my shadow was getting less), so maybe the Hairy Biker's will still remain favourite cooks of mine.

Do hope you enjoy 'The Goode Kitchen' Sarina, and lucky you had a (possibly) brand new copy. It must be about 30 years since I made that prog. but the hints and tips always apply whatever century we live in. In this time of recession, possibly more useful now than when the book was first written.

Thanks for your chilli con carne recipe Les. It's different to the one I would use, and certainly very different to Heston B's version (which I am now tending to prefer to mine). Not quite sure why you added the seasoning in two parts, couldn't it all have gone in together?
It's too late for you to soak/cook your own beans (I noticed you used canned red beans), but Heston gave a good tip: 'soak the beans in salted water then the skins won't split when they are cooked'.

Nodded my head vigorously when I read your comment Lisa. How many time my Beloved has come home, looked around and then said something like 'looks like you've been sitting with your feet up all day', when I've been feverishly doing the washing, taking three very small children for a walk, doing the shopping, preparing their meals, plus supper for B and tidying everything up before he came home. Men never seem to realise what happens in a home with little children toddling around (our third child was born a month before our firstborn was three! Then a gap of four years before our fourth was born).
There was one time when my B was out of work for the umpteenth time, and I was feeling very fed up, so took myself off for a week to stay with my aunt and let B look after the children. Well, I thought he would be able to, but obviously not, for he apparently fell to pieces, got several neighbours and my mother to 'help him' because he couldn't cope. Poor lad, he'd never done any washing, cooking, cleaning or even looking after the children before, no wonder that he nearly had a nervous breakdown. But at least this made him realise that looking after children and a home was not as easy as he expected.

How fortunate you are to have such warm weather at this time of year.Lisa. Thankfully here it is becoming slightly warmer, and today looks as though it will be sunny and stay that way.
We have had torrential rain over many parts of the UK over the past week or so, and this was desperately needed due to the long drought, but even with this rain there are warnings that we may have to have standpipes at the corner of our roads if next winter again remains dry.
Here in the north-west (where there is always more rain than anywhere else), there is a possibility that we may be able to share some of our surplus water with those less fortunate, but it will cost a lot to pipe it wherever it has to go. Who will pay for that I wonder? Mind you if we 'sell' our water, then maybe our water rates will go down, and not continually go up (not that we pay a lot for we use a water meter, and if anyone lives alone or is retired then having a water meter fitted can save loads of money and I mean LOADS).

Recipes today are alternatives to serving the normal mashed potato. At this time of year bought spuds seem to sprout overnight, so wise not to buy too many at any one time. Also basic 'mash' can be a bit boring. So next time you make a Cottage, Shepherd's, or Fish Pie 'thatch' the top with any of the following where its flavour complements the rest of the dish.

When using large parsnips, it is best to remove the core as this takes a lot longer to cook to tender than the rest of the flesh. Allow a little extra weight if doing this. Young parsnips only need peeling, as their core is not so 'stringy', and will cook more rapidly.
Curried Parsnip Mash: serves 4
2 oz (50g) butter4
2 lb (1kg) parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tblsp curry powder
3 tblsp runny honey
14 fl oz (400ml) milk
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the parsnips. Fry for about 5 minutes until the parsnips are beginning to caramelise, then stir in the curry powder and fry for a further minute before adding the honey and cooking for a couple or so minutes longer.
Add the milk, bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 15 minutes or until the parsnips are very tender. Then mash with a potato masher or fork, adding seasoning to taste. Use/serve as you would mashed potatoes.

Almost any canned (or home-cooked) beans can be used to make this (other than red beans or baked beans). Myself would also make this using cooked haricot, butterbeans, pinto beans or the cannellini beans as suggested.
Bean and Pesto Mash: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tblsp pesto
Heat the oil in a pan and add the beans. Cook for a few minutes until the beans are heated through, then add the pesto and mash everything together. Serve as 'mash'.

One of the easiest ways to cook potatoes for mash is cook them in their skins in the microwave (as 'jacket spuds'). Scoop out the flesh (you can fill the skins with the flavoured mash to serve if you wish, or freeze the skins to use another day), and this will make a lump-free mash.
Instead of chives, add a little crushed garlic (if you prefer it cooked then fry this with the bacon), or use an alternative herb.
Cheese, Bacon and Herb Mash: serves 4
1 lb (450g) floury potatoes, cooked and still hot
3 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
3 fl oz (75ml) milk
3 oz (75g) mature Cheddar, grated
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (opt)
handful fresh chives
salt and pepper
Fry the bacon until crisp then set aside. Mash the potatoes with the milk and cheese, then fold in the nutmeg (if using) the bacon and the herbs. Add seasoning to taste, then use/serve in any way you choose.

Double Mustard Mash: serves 4
2 lb (900g) floury potatoes
4 fl oz (100ml) milk
1 tblsp wholegrain mustard
1 tblsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Peel and dice the potatoes, then boil until tender. Drain well and return to the pan to allow to 'steam-dry' for a few minutes then add the milk and mustards with plenty of seasoning and mash it all together. Simple as that. Eats well with hot roast or cold sliced beef, with Toad in the Hole, and as a topping to Cottage pie.

Have to say this 'role playing' really does work, although it might be wiser for me to stick with one character rather than switching roles every half hour or so, then more could possibly be achieved. It's just that so much seems to be needing to be done at this time of year. Am wondering if there is a 'multi-tasking' role I could take on. The only one I can think of is an 'au pair' (my husband might like me to have a go at that!). It is not easy to change roles in mid-stream. I begin by playing washer-woman and do the laundry, and whilst this is in the machine, don a chef's hat and prepare some food, and while this is cooking put on my gardening gloves and tend the plants in the conservatory, and somewhere in between put on my house-maid's 'pinny' and flick the feather duster over the woodwork, then retrace steps, take food from oven, washing from machine, hang it to dry, and then have a go at role-playing a tired old lady (that's an easy one to do).

B has to take our daughter to see a specialist today, so I'll have time on my own to 'get on with things' (more role-playing). But at least jobs are getting done, although unless completed at that time (this rarely happens), I can make more mess whilst doing things, and this doesn't help.
Think it is time for me to rearrange my kitchen and put up some more 'shelving'. I do have four small drawers that were once part of a dressing table, and if these were stacked on on top of the other, the open 'top' of each drawer facing outwards, then these could hold all sorts of things. Might give it a try if I can find a gap where they will fit without toppling over. I could then store my many spice jars on these 'new' shelves, and the wall shelving (where the spices are at the moment) can then hold my many large coffee jars that are now used to hold 'dry goods'), this then leaving me shelf space in the larder which is desperately needed to hold and keep my numerous baking tins together (these at the moment kept in various parts of the kitchen and I can never remember where).

As the saying goes 'the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak', so let us hope today my flesh will be a bit stronger than usual and work can get done. Think positive Shirley. Work WILL be done or tomorrow will have to admit to all of you 'I'm a failure'. And that can never be.

Join me tomorrow to find out whether I've been a good(e) girl or not. See you then.