Beetroot soup

I love beetroots, especially roasted or in soup. In fact roast beetroot soup is just brilliant, super tasty and very easy to make. I just had some for lunch so I thought I’d share my recipe.

What you need (makes enough for 6 as a light lunch):

1kg of uncooked beetroots

2 large floury potatoes

2 medium onions (chopped)

1 litre of stock (I used the simmering liquid from a gammon a cooked the day before)

rapeseed or sunflower oil

What you do:

1. Wear rubber gloves or you’ll end up with beetroot stained hands!

2. Top, tail and peel the beetroots and cut into quarters (make sure they are roughly even sized so cut larger beets into eighths).

3. Put beetroot pieces in a bowl, pour over about two tablespoons of oil and toss the beets to get them evenly coated.

4. Roast the beets for about an hour in the oven at R6/200C, turning once or twice. Its nice id the corners catch a bit but not too much. They are ready when you can slide a knife in easily.

5. Gently cooked the onions in a tablespoon of oil for about 10 minutes so they are golden and soft.

6. Meanwhile boil the peeled potatoes until soft but not falling apart.

7. Add the cooked beets and potatoes to the onions, pour on the stock. Taste for seasoning. My stock was well seasoned so it didn’t need any more at this stage.

8. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool slightly.

9. Blend to a relatively smooth soup using your preferred method/gadget. Pour back in the pan and warm through.

To Serve:

Good things to sere with this are:

– crusty bread and butter or tangy goats cheese

– dollop of creme fraiche/greek yoghurt/cream to swirl in

 

 

Orange Voddy

Oranges seem to be on 3 for 2 special offer at the moment so I have quite a lot. They are super juicy and tasty. As I like orange liqueur I thought it might be good try an orange voddy.

I’ve just prepared it now and its in the pantry doing its fruit voddy thing.

Here are the steps:

You can find my rules of thumb for fruit vodka making here.

Hot Dawg Buns

I like experimenting with bread recipes and I’ve got to a pretty perfect burger bun that is also great for breakfast bacon baps.

Recently we spotted some REAL hot dogs sausages from Unearthed and decided to give them a go. And so began a quest to find a good hot dog bun recipe.

Asking about on twitter led me to some recipes from Dan Lepard, Hawksmoor and also some tips from twitter friend Josordoni. I was aiming for soft but quite densely chewy and no sweetness.

After reading around and peering in the fridge to see wht was to hand this is what I came up with:

 

 

For the avoidance of doubt here’s what its says (with added extra comments):

200g of creme fraiche and full fat milk combined (roughly a 50:50 mix)
plus more milk as needed to make a soft slightly sticky dough
70g of potato flour
200g strong white flour
3/4 tsp of Doves dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt

Mix the flours, salt and yeast together in a large bowl
Mix the milk and creme fraiche and  beat lightly to get it thoroughly mixed
Add the liquid to the flour and mix to a soft slightly sticky dough, use more milk if you need to
Cover and leave for 10-20 minutes then knead gently (i.e. ten turns or folds, see here for method) on lightly oiled surface
Cover and leave for 30 minutes and knead again gently
Cover and leave for an hour until doubled in size
Knead lightly then shape into four long, bridge, submarine type rolls
Put ona baking try close together but not quite touching
Leave to rise until double in size (this took about 30 minutes)
Pre heat oven to highest setting
Bake at this temperature for 15 minutes then drop temperature to R4/180C and bake for a further 5 to 10 mins
Leave to cool

Slice in half but leaving a slight hinge down the long side, fill with frankfurters and condiments of your choice.

Seville oranges: spicy, savoury style marmalade

Last year when everyone was making marmalade with seville oranges I bought a couple of bags from the supermarket thinking I’d join in the fun.

Then I remembered that the last batch I made had lasted about 10 years as I don’t really eat marmalade that often.

So I wondered if there were any more savoury recipes…I’m a fan of chutney and pickles and started thinking along those lines. I couldn’t find any specific recipes and several people I asked were unsure if it would work.

After a bit of juggling ideas I decided to give it a go and try to make a sort of spicy seville and onion marmalade hybrid.

With no recipes to guide me I struck out and just made it up as I went along. Naturally I also failed to write down what I did.

Possibly more inevitably, almost 12 months later, when I opened the first jar to test it just before Christmas it was amazing. Mellow spices, sweet and orangey but with enough sharp tang and bite.

So here I am staring at the pictures I took hoping I can work out what I did.

I think its fairly simple.

It roughly goes like this:

Ingredients:

Seville oranges

Onions

Chilli peppers

Dried smokey chillis

Coriander seeds

Fresh ginger

Method:

Juice the sevilles and set aside the juice. Slice the peel into strips.

Slice the onions. Cook the onions slowly in butter over a low heat to soften them.

Add the sliced peel, juice, spices and a some cider vinegar.

Simmer until soft and thickening and reduced by about half.

Put in sterilised jars and seal straightaway while warm.

Leave for ages to allow it to mellow.

Eat, with cold cuts or with poppadums…or just however you would normally have spiced chutney.

Chocolate dipped crispbread

One of the great things about working, in my day job, with people who make lovely food is that I get to taste it and also get to be a part of thinking about new products and new recipes.

What could be better?

So when the team at Peters Yard were getting together for our 2013 planning day I thought I’d try an idea I’d been toying with for some time.

Chocolate dipped crispbread. Yes really.

Now Peters Yard are no ordinary crispbread. They are made to an artisan Swedish recipe with sourdough starter and simple ingredients. The taste amazing. Watching people be wowed when they first taste them is great. They are the non plus ultra of crispbread, indeed of crackers in general.

So I decided to keep it all very simple and not compromise on ingredients. I melted some top quality chocolate (I used Willie’s Cacao Chefs Drops) in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once molten and glossy I dipped mini crispbread in the chocolate and laid them out on baking parchment to set. I also drizzled some with the last of the chocolate to make squiggly patterns.

The team loved them with coffee. The fruitiness of the chocolate complimented the slight sourdough tang of the crispbread. The smooth texture contrasted well with the crispiness. All in all a success. The team suggested that additions of a little sea salt or finely ground coffee beans sprinkled over when the chocolate was setting would also be good. So I’ve done a second batch and I’m about to try them now.

I think they would make great end to a meal as ‘petit fours’ or as a gift to someone. They will last about two weeks or so in carefully sealed box or tin. Because they took about 10 minutes to make and only about an hour completely to set I also think they make a wow plate of indulgence at anytime.

For really good instructions on melting chocolate take a look at this article in the Guardian. I would say that because the crispbreads have a little coating of flour you are never going to get a super glossy result so go with the bowl over water or microwave option. If using a microwave be very careful and do short bursts and keep checking, if you overheat then the chocolate will go granular, it will taste fine but be harder to work with.

Disclosure: Peters Yard is a client of my business Bright Blue Skies. The crispbread had been provided for free. The chocolate drops I bought in Waitrose.

 

Meet Herman, the cake

A few weeks ago there was a knock at the door on Saturday afternoon….who could it be? Too late for the postman, no guests expected….I sent lovely husband to find out, just in case it was a salesperson ;o

It was the next door neighbour with a plastic tub and a piece of paper and muttering something about Herman…..husband, I believe, looked bemused so she said ‘give it to Linda she will know what Herman is’ and thrust the box and paper into his hands.

And so it came to pass that we were the recipients of a Herman the German Friendship Cake sourdough starter. The chain letter of baking.

Herman's care program

I had seen mention of Herman by a few other bloggers over the last year and not being a cake baker or eater was rather hoping he wouldn’t land in my kitchen. But land he had.

In common with most chain letters the friendship element is somewhat undermined by the way in which you feel compelled to do as the letter asks or feel guilty for breaking the chain. A sort of low grade emotional blackmail that I hope doesn’t exist in real friendships! In the case of Herman the the emotional pull comes from the fact that you might apparently kill him if you don’t look after him:

‘You cannot put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I’m dead’

Oh good, not so much as a gift more a kind of burden. Apparently you also have to do everything on the exact right day or it won’t work.

That said it does feel quite nice to be given something by the neighbours in a world were we mostly only say hello in passing.

Probably if you have read much of my blog or if you happen to know me then you’ll know I’m not one to follow a recipe without making tweaks. And so it was with Herman.

I decided it would be sort of fun to see if he worked and also fun to see if he would still work if I broke some of the rules. After all I know from my bread baking that you don’t kill sourdough by putting it in the fridge you just slow it down and you don’t kill it if you don’t quite feed it to program and if it looks like its breathing its last you can usually revive it.

So I sort of followed the instructions but as day 10 (the day to bake the cake) was going to fall on a work day when I was with a client I mashed it up a bit and just extending the process so that I could make the cake at the weekend. I also knew that on day 9 I was unlikely to see anyone to share the starter with (plus I wasn’t sure I wanted to oblige a further 3 people to make a cake) so the surfeit of Herman starter is in the fridge and he looks a little listless but he sure isn’t dead.

Finished cake

The cake mix seemed a little dry so I added some extra milk when mixing it, possibly a mistake as the resulting cake although cooked through was so moist and soft it fell apart when you tried to slice it. I baked for the longer time as most people seemed to think this gave a better result. Taste wise it was really good a little on the sweet side for me (look at all that sugar in the instructions). As ever we only got about half way through before we forgot about it only to find it a week later alive and kicking with mould.

Verdict:

– if you like cake and you want to experiment with sourdough this is an easy way to start

– if you like the idea of sharing cake mix with neighbours then you’ll love this

– don’t believe the emotional blackmail of Herman dying –  he won’t and you don’t have to pass him on, breaking the chain is never a diaster

You can find more about Herman here should you want to start your own, or receive one and need to find out more.

Slow smoky BBQ brisket

Barbecue food has always created a bit of a debate in this house. I like it but Ian claims he’s not much a of a fan…I think this has more to do with the faff of lighting the barbecue than the food. Suffice to say the last time we used the barbecue was 2 years ago.

But everyone, just everyone, keeps going on about ‘proper’ barbecue and I’ve been watching too much Food Network recently and I decided we had to learn to barbecue. A recent visit form a good friend who likes to experiment with smoky barbecue flavours and my mind was made up.

Ready to go on the BBQ

In the freezer was a piece of rolled brisket from the supermarket cheaps counter (i.e. the marked down stuff where you get real bargains if you arrive at the right time – a method of shopping perfected by my twitter chum Lynne and which I have been trying to emulate).

Smokin' away

So we had brisket. I googled and whoa tons of links for how to barbecue it especially lots of slightly mad You-Tube clips. They all seemed to be talking about digging pits and cooking long and slow for 20+ hours. This seemed little excessive for a 1kg piece of meat…then I realised they were cooking about half a steer!

After a bit more searching I decided there were 5 key steps:

– marinating the meat in vinegar and spices (4-5 hours minimum for a piece the size I had)

– covering with some form of secret spicy rub

– cooking long and slow at a relatively low temperature

– getting smokiness into the meat – this could be at the same time as the slow cook or separately

– serving with a sticky sweet sour spicy barbecue sauce

So this is what we did:

– mixed some of TZ the Urban Spiceman‘s Dirty Liars Club spice mix with 4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Rolled the meat in it, covered and left for 5 hours to marinate.

– when it was time to cooke heated the oven to Gas 3 (150C)

– mixed the marinade with more of TZ’s spice mix and some oil and rubbed all over the meat

– placed the meat in a snuggly fitting oven proof dish, added 1 glass of red wine, covered and cooked for 3 hours

– with about 45 minutes to go we got the barbecue ready, light the coals and letting them burn down to the right level, we added some beech wood chips (you soak them first so they produce smoke rather than burn)

– smoked the meat on the barbecue for 40 minutes with the lid on

– reduced down the leftover cooking juices in the pan from the over cooking adding some of TZ’s Wor Sisters Sauce and some sugar to get a thick sweet sour spicy sauce

– let the meat relax for 10 minutes, cut in thick slices and served simply with boiled potatoes and buttered cabbage and the sauce on the side

IT WAS AMAZING

Ready to slice

There was plenty left so we had some in homemade buns with slaw and potato salad later in the week and finally we stir fried the last bits with greens, fresh ginger and garlic  and served on rice noodles.

Leftovers made a tasty stir fry

So easy, so delicious. We are both now BBQ converts.