Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Can't Stand the Pace!

Not sure whether it was caused by my going out of my comfort zone and meeting more people, but today suddenly felt quite poorly and took to my bed for a few hours.  Felt a bit like I was about to have an attack of flu, but after a nap felt a lot better - just as B arrived and ready for his supper.  Thankfully this was liver, bacon, cabbage and potatoes that did not require a lot of expertise or labour.

After Jane's request for recipes using stout, I scrolled down my list of recipes published on this blog and did find the one for my favourite Beef Carbonnade.  Not sure why (other than it is very good and worth repeating) but I'd given it three times.  Once on the 15th Dec. 2006, again on the 8th March 2007, and also on the 19th August, 2007. 

Despite having the correct date, the last published blog each month comes up first, so I have to scroll down to reach the right day, this I find really interesting as there is so much there I'd forgotten about and I wish I could write as well now as I did then.  Must give a mention to 'Sticky Toffee Pudding' (B calls it 'ticket office pudding') towards the end of the December page - that's also a great favourite and I bake a slab of this in a 9"x9"/20x20cm) tin, and then pour over a thick layer of the sauce.  When cold it is so rich there is enough for 9 portions, these freezing very well indeed, needing slightly less than a minute (no more) to re-heat in the microwave. 

Both the March and August pages also have lots of interesting reading/recipes, and one at least has a couple of photos worth looking at. 

The Beef Carbonnade makes a lovely gravy, and this is so tasty that - for economy - I often use less meat.  Any leftovers would make good fillings for 'Beef 'n Ale' pies.
If money is no problem, then the Carbonnade could be made using venison.

Another way of flavouring meat with ale is to cook diced stewing/braising steak, or a brisket in a slow cooker (pref with sliced onions) using ale as the liquid (it can be diluted with water if you wish).  The meat juices would flavour the stock and any surplus liquid could be frozen to later make gravy.

Am pretty sure that beer can be used when making bread (probably German bread) I'll have to see if I can find a recipe, and following on with that thought I'm feeling that as a glass of ale can accompany a 'Ploughman's Lunch', this could be 'deconstructed' (as is the fashion today) and onion soup made with beef stock plus some ale, with the bread lightly toasted, then covered with grated cheese to float on top of the soup. 

Here is a recipe for Irish Barm Brack (teabread).  A Welsh version soaks the fruit in tea, the Irish usually soak it in tea with Irish whiskey, and as I've made a fruit cake using ale (still haven't found the recipe for this), why not soak the fruit in ale?  Here is my version, you may wish to dilute the ale with water.

Irish Barm Brack: gives 10-12 slices
1 x 375g pack mixed dried fruits
5 fl oz (150ml) ale
5 fl oz (150ml) water or cold tea
8 oz (225g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
4.5 oz (125g) soft brown sugar
1 large egg
Put the fruits in a large bowl and add the ale and water/tea.  Stir well, then cover and leave to soak overnight.
Next day sift the flour, baking powder, and spice into a bowl, then stir in the sugar.  Make a well in the centre and add the egg with a few teaspoons of the liquid from the soaked fruits.  Beat together. 
Drain the fruits over a bowl, reserving the liquid, then add the fruits to the cake mix and fold together.  The mixture should be soft enough to just fall from the spoon.  If too dry mix in a little more of the soaking liquid.
Spoon into a greased and base-lined 2lb (900g) loaf tin and bake at 160C, gas 3 for about 50-60 minutes or until the cake has risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean.  If your oven browns too fast, bake at 140C (fan).   Leave to cool in the tin for 15 or so minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
When cold, wrap in baking parchment or clingfilm and then over-wrap in foil and leave for a couple or so days before eating.   Serve sliced, spread with butter.

Sorry to hear Grub-lover that you have much the same difficulties with walking as myself.  It really frustrates me as I used to love walking and would walk for miles.  Each time I sit down I feel younger and ready for a ramble, but the minute I start to raise myself from my chair all I get is aches and pains and needing to grab my walking sticks.  Still, there are many worse off, so should be thankful for that rather than feeling sorry for myself as I should expect this at my age.

So now you're having to cope with a gluten-free diet for your husband Pam. Do agree that gluten-free bread does not taste as nice,  but much depends on the brand and whether better quality or not, they are all far more expensive to buy than 'ordinary' bread.  It's worth buying some gluten-free flour and baking your own.  You can also make up your own flour using a mixture of flours made from rice, tapioca, maize (cornmeal), and buckwheat.  Also potato flour.  Xanthan gum (actually a powder) is often used with gluten flour as it helps to bind and thicken and also give 'bounce'.
Am giving a few recipes that you might like to try.

The first is for a fruit loaf, and doesn't contain g.flour other than polenta (cornmeal?). Gluten-free baking powder should also be used, but if you have none use Xanthan gum instead.
Date, Banana, and Rum Teabread: gives 10 slices
9 oz (250g) stoned, ready to eat dates
7 fl oz (200ml) boiling water
1 large banana
4 oz (100g) pecans or walnuts (chopped)
7 oz (200g) raisins
7 oz (200g) sultanas
4 oz (100g) fine polenta
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder
3 tblsp rum (or orange juice)
2 egg whites
Put the dates into a small pan with the water and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain and reserve liquid. Process the dates until finely chopped, then add the banana with 4 fl oz (100ml) of the cooking liquid and blitz until smooth.
Put the nuts, dried fruit, polenta, mixed spice and baking powder into a bowl and mix in the date puree and rum, stirring until well combined.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and fold these into the mixture, then spoon into a greased and lined 900g loaf tin.  Bake for one hour until golden, testing with a skewer to make sure it is cooked through.  Cool in the tin completely before turning out.  Cut in slices to serve.

Here is a recipe for a walnut seed loaf.  You could omit the seeds if you wish, and also use white bread flour instead of brown or a mixture of each.
Malted Walnut Seed Loaf:  cuts into 12 slices
4 oz (100g) cornflour
11 oz (300g) brown bread flour
3 oz (75g) potato starch
2 tblsp soya flour
2 tsp xantham gum
1 x 7g sachet easy-bake dried yeast
1 tblsp caster sugar
1.5 tsp salt
16 fl oz (450ml = 1 US pint) warm milk
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
4 oz (100g) mixed seeds: pumpkin, sesame, hemp...
2 oz (50g) walnuts, chopped
Put the flours, potato starch, soya, xantham gum, yeast, sugar, and salt into a large bowl.  Into a jug put the milk (hand temp), oil and vinegar.  Stir this into the dry ingredients until it forms a soft dough. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for one hour.
Tip the dough out onto a board and knead in most of the seeds and walnuts, then shape into a large round ball.  Roll this in the remaining seeds, then lift the bread onto a lightly oiled baking sheet, flattening the top slightly, then leave to rise again (it will also spread) for another hour.
Bake at 200C, gas 6 for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C, gas 4 and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when tapped.
Leave on a wire rack to cool, covered or wrapped completely in a clean tea-towel (this helps to keep the crust soft).

Thanks Kathryn for explaining about horses hooves not always needing trimming. How fortunate that Dolly doesn't need shoes - they can be very expensive to keep replacing. As are human shoes I suppose (the few pairs of shoes I own are umpteen years old, but being leather they last quite a long time). 

That's another day gone by, the trees are now unfurling their pale green leaves, and my tubs of daffodils are all in bloom - I planted so many in each tub that I've had to thin some of the flowers out to enjoy as cut flowers (but prefer them in their natural state).  Hope we can all meet up again tomorrow in the usual way (a virtual coffee morning, me one side of the comp - you sitting at yours.  At least my thoughts are always with you when I write as to me you are real persons, each an individual not 'en masse'.  Hope you feel the same.  TTFN.