JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beechdean ice cream

We went to the Theatre Royal Windsor last night to see a very good whodunnit ... disappointing that it was only about 1/3 full - normally on a Thursday it's pretty full, so perhaps everyone was at home watching Britain's Got Talent. Hope there's a better turnout for Brief Encounter next week.

As usual, fantastic Beechdean ice cream in the interval .... reading the label, it's produced on a farm which is very close to home, as well as the theatre. What a treat.

When we emerged, the ferris wheel was lit up and still spinning furiously, but we couldn't work out whether there was anyone in it or not.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dry-bottled tomatoes .... so good to eat, so quick to make

Forget everything I wrote about preserving tomatoes in brine - they're good, but you've got all that salt water to chuck. No, the most delicious way to preserve a tomato - beating slow-roasted hands down - is to bottle them dry with a little salt and sugar. Really fabulous - and you can just pour the contents of your jar into a saucepan and heat it up for an instant sauce.

You'll need 1tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar per 500g of tomatoes. You must pack them as tight as you can, because they collapse down to about the halfway line. Use sterilised bottles (10 minutes at 100C in the steam oven). Pack the jars, close the lid; 60 minutes at 100C.

If you don't have a steam oven, which let's face it, most of us don't (I'm borrowing one at the moment from Miele), you can do this using the slow-water method, the quick-water method, the oven method, or a pressure cooker. All more of a faff, because you have to be keen, and, above all, you have to be there. With the steam oven: 2 minutes' to pack the jar, and that's it - Ping! and it's done. No need even to worry about whether you can fit the result into the deep freeze.

Pictures soon ... I just wanted to get the method down before I lost the piece of paper with my notes.

PS if you want some details about the other methods, let me know and I'll post them ... this experiment with bottling/canning has involved consulting a big pile of books, so, for a few days only (before I forget), I am an encyclopaedia of knowledge about preserving tomatoes in a jar.

Related posts

Things to do with tomatoes

Roasting tomatoes
Roasted tomato ketchup
Slow roasted tomatoes
Homemade tomato ketchup - and caponata-ish
Chilli jam
Preserving tomatoes in brine

Tasty tomatoes to grow

Links to tomatoes on other blogs

Fried green tomatoes - haven't you always wanted to know how to make these? Here's how, from the blog at the Whistlestop Cafe
David Lebovitz's take on an heirloom tomato salad
Gazpacho from Kalyn's Kitchen

Play date at the Miele Experience Centre
How DO you say Miele?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Alfred's pancakes

Lettice and Charlotte made pancakes for lunch. Just because they could. I'm not sure what they did (apart from melt Mars bars to go on them), but this is Alfred's killer recipe:

Alfred's pancakes
for about 6

(please forgive the indecisive metric/imperial nature of what follows)

100g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 pint of milk

Mix all these ingredients together until there are no lumps. Leave it to stand for half an hour. Just before you start cooking your pancakes, add a splash of fizzy water, enough to make the batter the consistency of single cream.

Tomatoes preserved in brine

Miele have lent me a steam oven to play with: until a few weeks ago, I didn't know such a thing existed; now I'm trying to work out whether I want one in the imminent re-design of a corner of my kitchen.

I didn't find it very easy to use when I tried to make part of dinner with it, but it did cook the asparagus to perfection - cooked through without going soggy. It was partly my in-built dislike of reading the instructions, and partly that the oven requires a precision which does not come naturally.

But now I've begun experimenting with bottling - what Americans call canning (and what we perhaps ought to call jarring). Here the steam oven comes into its own, making the process the work of moments. First you sterilise the bottles (15 mins at 100C), then you fill them and put them back in the oven. Ping! and it's done.

I'm going to dry-pack the next batch, just as soon as I can get my hands on some decent tomatoes: peel and pack, sprinkling with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar per 500ml of tomatoes.

Brined tomatoes

The brine I used was made with 15g salt to 1.1 litres of water.

Put the tomatoes into wet sterilised jars; I used 500g Le Parfait, which hold about 350g of fruit. Pour on the brine and seal the jars. I cooked these at 85C for 55 mins. A perfect guess. (According to the Reader's Digest Food from your Garden, they'd have needed 60-70 minutes using the oven method.)

Related posts

Things to do with tomatoes

Roasting tomatoes
Roasted tomato ketchup
Slow roasted tomatoes
Homemade tomato ketchup - and caponata-ish
Chilli jam

Tasty tomatoes to grow

Links to tomatoes on other blogs

Fried green tomatoes - haven't you always wanted to know how to make these? Here's how, from the blog at the Whistlestop Cafe
David Lebovitz's take on an heirloom tomato salad
Gazpacho from Kalyn's Kitchen

Play date at the Miele Experience Centre
How DO you say Miele?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Testing the new roof at Wimbledon

We left home this morning in a shower of rain, and arrived at Wimbledon in a cold blustery wind.

We saw the new roof cover the centre court - eight minutes of stop-start - then watched Tim Henman, Kim Cluysters, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff play doubles and singles.

When we emerged .... yes, it had been raining. We were blissfully unaware that, for the first time, rain didn't stop play. (The roof was deployed for final testing, rather than to shelter the court.)

Lunch was a decent but pricey sandwich, and filthy coffee; if you're heading for Wimbledon this summer, my advice would be to take your own food.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How do you stop bread going mouldy?

Some advice, please: how do you stop fresh bread going mouldy? I've found a very good webpage full of advice about using a breadbin (I probably should use more boiling water to keep the mould at bay), but I'm wondering what the bakers amongst you do.

I bake all the bread we eat, and mostly we eat it up quickly ... but not always, and then we occasionally find that a loaf has gone mouldy. We keep it in a terracotta crock (glazed inside but not out) which is covered with a wooden lid. I'd be happy to make a change to this arrangement, but I don't want to keep bread in the freezer.

What do you do? I'd really welcome your tips, especially if you bake your own bread ...

Related posts

Daily bread
Daily bread 2

Six seed rolls
Bread knots - another simple way to make beautiful and delicious rolls, using this dough, or your default dough

Yeast starter for bread - and the bread
make your own sourdough starter

No-knead bread the famous NY Times recipe
Speeded-up no-knead bread and a different take on it

Yoghurt bread fabulous, easy, TRY IT
Quick oat loaf
Spelt bread - it's getting easier to buy this highly-flavoured flour

Anti-oxidant tea bread - I made this for my husband for a pre-surgery boost - delicious, too!

Yeast conversion - fresh/dried/quick

Things to do with stale or leftover bread

Herb stuffing for roast chicken
Grilled trout with rosemary stuffing
Baked scallops
Anchovy toasts

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blueberry muffins

We've been eating blueberry muffins this afternoon. Lettice made them. This is how:

for 12 muffins

75g melted butter
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb
2 tsp baking powder
100 ml yoghurt mixed with 100g milk
1 egg
200g blueberries

Heat the oven to 200C. Melt the butter. Combine in a bowl the flour, bicarb and baking powder. In a measuring jug, mix the yog/milk with the egg and butter, then lightly stir this into the flour. Don't overwork, and don't worry about lumps. Fold in the fruit, then spoon into muffin cases. (Nigella mentions the possibility of adding orange zest, but Lettice didn't bother.)

Bake for 20 minutes. They'll be golden and delicious. Eat hot or cold. We thought they'd be good made with raspberries, or chopped up strawberries. Lettice thought they'd be good with bananas; I didn't.

Adapted from Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess

Friday, May 08, 2009

Honey-seared salmon with noodles

Guest post from daughter Lettice, who cooked dinner for the two of us this evening. She's just back from three months volunteering in South Africa, and says she really missed cooking:

Just tried this recipe and it was delicious. Few things: i didn't use the bean sprouts (couldn't find them) we thought they/cold cucumber sticks/mushrooms would have been equally nice. Also the frying pan was too small, and everything went everywhere, so maybe use a deep set pan or a wok - which we have i just failed to use! The pan was also slightly too hot when i added the salmon so slighty too cooked outside/not cooked inside... just cook how you would normally cook salmon - not how the recipe says!

2 strips egg/rice noodles
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 thick salmon fillets, skinned and sliced 2 cm thick
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
100g spinach leaves

Cook the noodles; drain, add a little sesame oil. Toss the salmon with the honey and soy sauce. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and toast the sesame seeds until lightly golden. Remove from pan. Add half the oil to the pan; once hot, cook the salmon for 1 minute each side. Remove from the pan; keep warm. Add the remaining oil to the pan; fry the noodles, spring onions and bean sprouts. Add the spinach, seeds, remaining honey and soy mix. Toss until the spinach wilts. Sit the honey seared salmon on top of the noodles and spinach - serve.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pains au chocolat

Very easy, very delicious, very fattening, very more-ish.

I used dark orange chocolate, and could have improved on this theme with some orange zest in the dough. Lettice said she'd like milk chocolate next time. They took little more than an hour and a half, and only five minutes of my time.

for 6 pains au chocolat

Put into the bread machine:

1/2 tsp yeast
250g strong white flour
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
2 tbsp butter
a pinch of salt
2 eggs beaten with 3 tbsp milk

Mix on the dough setting.

Knead the dough into a cylinder shape, then cut into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle, put a square of chocolate in the centre, then fold the two sides over (as if you were folding a sheet of A4 into a long envelope). Place in a mini loaf pan (mine are 11cmx6 and 3cm deep). Leave in a warm place to rest and rise*, then bake for 10-12 minutes in a hot oven (220C).

Eat while warm. Mmmmm

* Mine had hardly risen at all when I put them in the oven after about 20 minutes' rest ... they were still light and airy, oven spring gave them their lovely final loaf shape

Other enriched doughs

Hot uncrossed buns
Fabulous cinnamon rolls
Anti-oxidant teabread
Homemade marzipan - an alternative filling for brioche dough

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rabbit pie, anyone?

Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex

Monday, May 04, 2009

New bread knife

The other day, I tried to slash dough with my 30-year-old bread knife. The dough tore and needed more time to rise again. I went out and bought a new bread knife. Very sharp. Now the young can cut bread straight, and I realise their previous inability to do this was because of the tool they were using.

Now there's no problem slashing dough with a knife. I'm just worried one of us is going to end up in A&E.