25th May 2014 - Elderflower cordial Elderflower Champagne & sourdough improvement
- 30 elderflower heads (flowers removed from stalks)
- 2kg of sugar
- 1.3 ltrs of water
- 50-75g of citric acid
- juice and rind of 3 lemons
- Boil the water, remove from heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved and leave to cool
- remove the flowers from the stalks (a fork is helpful here) and place in a large bowl
- add rind and juice of the lemons to the elderflowers together with the citric acid.
- pour sugar water over the elderflowers, stir and leave covered with a muslin cloth for 24 hours.
- Strain the elderflower syrup through a clean muslin cloth into sterilised bottles (I used some nice swing top glass bottles) but any will do.
- Serve diluted with water (soda, still, sparkling) to taste - I added a couple of sprigs of mint, slice of lemon and some ice cubes - delicious...................
- 8 Elderflower heads
- 5 ltrs of water
- 900g of sugar
- 250ml of white grape concentrate
- pkt of wine yeast (if available champagne yeast)
- 1/2 teaspoon of yeast nutrient
- juice and rind of 2 lemons
- Put the elderflower heads, lemon juice and rind , grape concentrate into a sterilised bucket, and pour over 2.5 ltrs of boiling water, stir.
- Add remaining cool water together with the yeast nutrient and the yeast, stir, and leave for 5 days stirring daily.
- Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth into a sterilised demijohn, and add an airlock. This should have quite a few bubbles in it and you should see a bubble in the airlock every few seconds.
- After the first week test the brew using a hydrometer aiming for a 1010 level - if its not there after a week, leave a little longer.
- Once its reached the right level, syphon into sterilised bottle that can withstand pressure and leave for several weeks for drinking.
4th May 2014 - Oxtail soup & Sourdough experiment
So below you see my recipe for my sourdough. I have had excellent results with my organic Canadian strong flour, but yesterday I purchased an 89p bag of Tesco strong white flour and last night made up my same recipe x 2 - one with my usual flour (£1.90) and one with my cheap flour (89p). I want to know if the success of my bread lately is 1. me mastering the sourdough technique, or 2. the quality of the flour.
Last night I made up two separate batches of sourdough - one with the cheap flour and one with the organic more expensive flour - I am currently on my 3rd rise so will continue this post once I have completed the experiment together with photos.
So here are the photographs as promised:-
I have never cooked oxtail before so this is a first for me. I found this recipe here on the BBC food website which I am giving a whirl for dinner tonight.
Here is a portion of oxtail purchased in our supermarket for £1.50.
- brown the oxtail on all sides and set aside.
- chop onion, celery, crush a clove of garlic and soften in the pan.
- deglaze the pan with a glass of red wine.
- Add beef stock, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper
- simmer for appox 2 hours until meat is tender.
- pour liquid into a bowl and pop in fridge (ideally overnight, but I couldn't be bothered to do all this last night) to allow the fat in the liquid to solidify.
- strip the meat from the bones, removing any bits of fat and grizzle.
- skim off the fat from the liquid, and return liquid to pan. Add flour and tomato paste with the meat to thicken.
- Served with crusty sourdough loaf - and enjoy.
Sourdough - recipe and how I got on.
Since we moved into our new home at the end of Oct 2013 I have been making my own sourdough. We got hooked on the bread we bought in London from Gails bakery which make a lovely loaf, and I have had a quest to recreate the lovely sour tasty, rather hole filled loaves.
Just recently I purchased the River Cottage handbook No.3 where I learnt that they knock back their dough 2-3 times (the Fabulous Baker Brothers don't suggest this in their YouTube clip) . Keen to try this out, I too did the same thing, and below is the result - let me tell you it makes the BEST EVER toast.
- Mix the dough in your mixer for around 10 minutes - check that the dough is neither too wet or too dry (flour has different levels of humidity) so be prepared to add extra flour if too wet or hold back some of the water and add at the end.......either way works.
- Hopefully your dough will be around the dough hook - generally if its wet, you get a puddle of dough on the bottom of the bowl and the rest on the hook.
- Pour a little vegetable oil on both the work surface and your hand (helps to stop sticking) and then I usually knead for another few minutes, stretching it out, rolling it up and repeating until it is nice and bouncy and shape into a ball.
- Pop dough back in the mixing bowl and cover - I use a shower cap (I collect these up when I travel and bring them home especially for this - I have been known to ask all my work colleagues to collect these for me on group work business trips). Leave the dough in the kitchen overnight to do its magic.
- Next morning you should have a nice raised dough that when you pull it out of the bowl looks like stringy chewing gum.
- Repeat stage 3 and 4 but this time only leave the dough for about 1- 1.5 hours.
- Repeat stage 6
- Now you can if you like repeat stage 6 again, or this time shape your loaf and put it into your banneton basket, I use one like this.
- Before you use your basket sprinkle the inside with gluten free flour (essentially rice flour) and having been doing this for a while - found this to be 100% successful against the dough getting stuck to the basket. Pop the dough into the basket which you will have shaped into a ball, smooth side down, and then sprinkle a little of the flour on the top of the dough to stop the dough sticking to the shower cap when it rises.
- Leave the covered dough on your work surface for approx 1-2 hours (it should be about level with the top of the basket) - the repeated kneading will create all those lovely air bubbles which = holes in the bread.
- When your dough has risen for the last time, heat your oven to 250c - I use a pizza stone in mine and the set below was bought as a recent wedding present and all items are used almost on a daily basis.
- Tear a piece of parchment/greaseproof paper to line the pizza paddle, then tip your dough onto the parchment paper. Gently brush off any excess flour with a soft brush and then score your bread. I use a lame and it is much better than a sharp knife (guess you could use an old razor blade but you must make sure you put it in something you'll not cut yourself. Get artistic and make whatever score pattern you want.
- Using the pizza paddle take the dough loaf to the oven, and slip the bread and parchment paper onto the pizza stone. Using a spray water container, spray cold water into the oven (I usually do around 6-7 sprays) alternatively put a tray at the bottom of the oven when heating up and and pour cold water or ice-cubes onto it. What you are doing is creating steam and steam = crusty loaf.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 250c and then check, turn loaf, and turn the temp down to 200c and continue to bake for another 15 minutes - check, turn, bake for another 15 minutes. You are usually needing around 30-40 minutes for this sized loaf, but I am using a fan oven.
- Your last check should be to see if the base when tapped sounds hollow and if yes, place your loaf on a cooling rack and try to resist eating too soon - wait at least 15 minutes before you take off the crust and butter............yummy - let me know how you get on.
3rd May 2014 - Slow-Cooked Rabbit Stew
Today I wanted to try cooking rabbit, something I haven't really eaten before (think I tasted a tiny bit off someone's plate) so I searched the internet and found this recipe on the Good Food website.
This was a really easy dish to prepare and then the rest is just done in the oven for 2 hours while I got on with painting the allotment frame.
The rabbit was a wild rabbit purchased from our local farm shop and for those of you who haven't eaten rabbit it tastes rather like chicken. In fact you could easily exchange this recipe with chicken, but you probably would lose some of the gamey taste.