Just a Cooking diary of a girl, now a older girl, mum and wife who loves to cook and feed family and friends filling bellies with good food, great memories, love and laughter, a lucky girl who is a self sufficient small holder raising sheep, pigs, goats and chickens, digging deep for England growing and preserving as much of her own home grown produce as she can.
This pastry is a really old fashioned short crispy flaky puff short crust pastry, the success is in the method. Place the flour and salt in your mixing bowl, grate in the butter and lard, using your fingers just fluff the fat in the flour so the fat is coated, then add the water and very gently bring together to loosely form a ball. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for approx 1 hr, this is to rest the pastry.
TO MAKE THE SPICY CURRY BEEF FILLING
1 tbsp ooil
1 tsp butter
200g minced chuck steak
1 tbsp good curry powder
1 small onion fine diced
1 clove garlic fine diced
50ml water or light beef stock
2 red chillies fine sliced
pinch of hot chilli cayenne pepper
dash of sweet chilli sauce
fresh ground black pepper
Heat the ooil and butter in a pan, gently pan fry the onion and garlic until soft but not coloured for approx 5 minutes, add the beef mince and cook for another 10 minutes or so, add the chillies, cayenne pepper, dash of sweet chilli sauce and stock or water, reduce the heat to only just a simmer, season to taste and reduce the liquid so that you have a little sauce not wetness. Leave to cool slightly.
Roll out the pastry fairly thin and using a sweet pickle jar lid or a 3"- 4"cutter, cut out your circles. Egg wash one half, edge only. Fill the centre with a tablespoon of the cooled filling, fold the pastry in half and crimp the edges to seal with a fork, your fingers or a empanada press, egg wash and bake for approx 15 minutes until golden all over and enjoy.
This is my husbands all time favourite dish, and today is our 19th Wedding Anniversary, every mouthful of this dish bursts full of individual flavour that all explode in unison with every mouthful... This is a dish that you can cook 90% and then leave until you are ready to eat, this I do because I can then really take my time to brown off the roux adding a better depth of flavour to the gumbo.
20 raw tiger shell on prawns
knob of butter
dash of ooil
3 ltr chicken stock
THE ALL IMPORTANT ROUX
500g cooking chorizo sliced
4 tbsp flours
2 green peppers fine chopped
3 stalks celery fine chopped
1 lrg onion fine diced
5 fresh bay leaves
small bunch of thyme leaves
8 cloves garlic fine chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
200g - 300g okra
1 tin chopped tomatoes
fresh ground black pepper
1 lemon juiced
TO FINISH THE GUMBO
1 whole crab or dressed
1 lobster with claws
chopped curly parsley
This is a easy dish to make, a little preparation in advance makes all the difference and gives you a stress free calm cook. Firstly I like to prep the fish and place in a bowl ready later for the final cooking stage to serve.
First remove the roe and membrane off the scallops and discard (I cook this for my cat and dogs), then take the tail meat and claw meat from the lobster, the rest of the lobster keep back to make lobster bisque the next day. If you have a whole crab then remove the centre part and legs and pick out all the meat, no need to keep the brown from the white. Place all the fish/shellfish in the fridge ready for later, keeping the cooked lobster and crab separate from the raw fish.
Next peel the prawns, putting all the heads and shells in a deep stock pan and placing the peeled prawns in the fridge with the rest of the fish, now add the butter and dash of oil to the prawn shells and gently pan fry for 10 minutes, this is going to make your glorious fish stock base, now add the 3 ltr of chicken stock and simmer, (meanwhile you can start to make the roux), after 20 minutes strain the stock through a sieve and return to the pan and leave to just tick over on a low heat.
MAKING THE ROUX
While your stock is ticking over, pan fry the sliced chorizo sausage in a non stick frying pan until sealed on each side, remove the chorizo only and leave the rendered chorizo fat in the pan, add the flour and some ooil if needed to make a medium loose paste, this is your roux, now slowly cook this on a low medium heat for 20-40 minutes until it passes a peanut butter colour and starts to darken a little more, this will add such depth of flavour.
Now add a dash of ooil to the darkened roux along with the chopped green peppers, onion, celery and garlic cook for 10 minutes and then add the bay leaves and thyme leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes then add the okra, the cayenne pepper and Tabasco, stir in well and cook for another 5 mins.
Add all of the roux mixture to the sieved stock along with the tin of tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring back up to a gentle simmer and add all the crab along with half the lemon juice, cook for 10 minutes or so and then taste. Now to season the gumbo to perfection, all it takes is a adjustment with the lemon juice, Tabasco and salt.
Cook your rice, quick, easy and perfect rice every time, take one cup of rice (serves 2) and two cups of water, place in a shallow saucepan, do not stir, pop on lid and bring to a simmer, time 6 minutes, do not take the lid off, take off the heat and leave for 10 minutes to finish steaming, when you do take off the lid you will have lots of steam holes which confirms you have perfectly cooked rice, fluffy and light.
Your gumbo at this stage is ready and can be finished by adding the scallops, prawns and lobster or left to tick over or cool down and then re-heated when needed, just add the prawns, scallops and lobster once up to temperature and serve with plain boiled rice, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy every lipsmacking mouthful...
This dish is rocking with classic flavours that work so well together ensuring every mouthful is bursting full of juicy seasoned fried chicken smothered with gooey creamy buffalo cheese, topped with a rich tomato sauce ensuring that every flavour is fully appreciated and a very moreish.
4 chicken breasts bashed thin
500ml butter milk
300g seasoned plain flour
2 eggs beaten with dash of butter milk
500g panko bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano
oil for shallow frying
2 balls of di campania buffalo mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 red chillies fine sliced (optional)
fresh ground black pepper
500g penne pasta
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE
16 fresh diced tomatoes or 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic fine chopped
200ml chicken stock in a good red wine
fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
This whole dish can easily be ready in 20 minutes, I find if I bring a large pan of water up to a rolling simmer ready for the pasta, and pre heat the grill when I start cooking it makes all the difference.
First I bash the chicken breasts so that they are all the same thickness all over and pop in a food bag with the buttermilk, if you can do this for a min of 30 minutes before you start cooking great or even longer is better, but if like me sometimes a spur of the moment decision means that there is no time to marinate then don't worry and omit this stage. Meanwhile start the tomato sauce.
Pan fry the onions and garlic in a dash of oil until soft, approx 5 minutes, do this while you are preparing the chicken below. Add the tomatoes, red wine chicken stock, bring to a simmer and leave to bubble along, this is now done apart from reducing a little and the fresh herbs and seasoning.
To make things easier have three bowls one with the seasoned flour, one with the egg wash and one with the seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Take the chicken and dust in the seasoned flour, dust of a little and then dip into the egg wash and then into the seasoned panko breadcrumbs, pat down a little and then place in the fridge for 5 minutes to chill., again not essential but if you do this will hold the seasoned flour and panko breadcrumbs on to the chicken better.
Heat a shallow frying pan just under half way with oil and bring up to a medium hot heat for frying gently. At this point I would add the pasta to the water to start cooking as this will take approx 11 minutes.
Fry the chicken until lightly golden brown on each side, approx 3 minutes on each side and then place on a baking tray and top with the torn buffalo mozzarella and pop under the grill to melt the cheese and brown off slightly.
Now you are ready to plate up, drain the pasta and return to the empty pan, add 70% of the tomato sauce and stir in well, place equal portions on each plate, now take the chicken parmigiana from under the grill and place on top of the pasta, add a ladle of tomato sauce over the top of the chicken and sprinkle with fresh basil and oregano and chillies.
I do feel a bit of a cheat with this dish as it is almost a no cook dish, just do all the prep and then sit back and relax on your deck chair and let the oven do all the work for you, that is why I love this time of the year, because all the garden bounty is ready to use and makes this dish completely home grown, except for the cider, but with our new four apple trees coming up to year three, next year hopefully we will start to produce cider too.
This is the first full dinner from our very small holding, I love padding down the garden in my Sunday (daytime) pj's and pulling up carrots, leeks, onion, celery, picking some sage, thyme and parsley, then digging up a couple of potaotes, beetroots and picking a couple of apples, for this dish. The added passion is the pork cheeks from our own pigs to this dish.
2 pork cheeks
1 onions fine diced
2 carrots fine diced
12 small carrots whole
1 leek fine diced
3 sticks celery fine diced
3 apples cored and quartered
4 whole yellow beetroots raw
500ml ish of chicken stock
1.5ltr apple cider
salt and pepper
This is a really simple one pot dish to cook, heat a dash of oil in a non stick pan and sear the pork cheeks, place in a deep casserole dish, then in the same pan add the diced carrots, onion, celery and leeks and just soften a little, then add to the casserole dish, add the chicken stock and cider, pop in the apples, whole carrots and raw beetroots and cover in tin foil, pop into your pre-heated oven 170 degrees for 4hrs.
Meanwhile make some gorgeous mashed potatos, seasoned with lots of salt, pepper and butter, and serve the gorgeous pork cheeks on top of the mashed potato and drizzle over the gorgeous braised stock gravy that has taken on all the flavours of the slow cooked dish.
A super quick dip to make that pleases almost everyone, just make sure you make enough to have some stashed in the fridge for yourself too. I like to serve my hummus with toasted wholemeal pittas cut into triangles, as these are my favourite and then some corn chips and bread twists.
1 can of chic peas or 400g dried & pre soaked
4 cloves of garlic peeled
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
100ml tahini paste
approx 60ml water
30-50ml good virgin ooil
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp ooil
Quick and simple, place all the ingredients except the finishing touches in your food processor and start to blend and then pulse, so you can maintain a little more control over the consistency, once you have the desired consistency taste and then season more with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
FOR THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Gently heat the oil to a warm heat and add the smoked paprika, swirl around and then pour on top of your hummus and enjoy the added depth of flavour this brings.
This sourdough culture is my living breathing baby, I have named her Betty and she will be adding great depth of flavour and natural wild yeast to my Sunday morning sourdough loaf. The older she gets the more mature depth of flavour she will bring and rising performance to my bread.
Your own Betty is easy to create. To look after Betty, she needs feeding every week and will hibernate in your fridge until 24hrs before you need her, then she will come out and sit in the kitchen have a feed and get a whisk to aerate her and allow her to warm up to full bubbleliciousness, then I will take 600g of her to make two sourdough loaves, one for us and one for the family to enjoy, and probably many pizza bases too.
STARTING A SOURDOUGH CULTURE
150g wholemeal organic flour
150g cold water
150g raised dough
FOR THE PROVED DOUGH
500g strong plain white flour
15g active yeast
(mix and knead, fold in air for 6 minutes leave in fridge 24hrs to prove)
This is all it takes to start your culture, take 150g of the proved dough from the fridge and add the 150g of wholemeal organic flour and cold water, mix well and place in the fridge.
The very next day feed Betty with another 150g wholemeal flour and cold water and mix well again. Then on day three you should find little bubbles like above in the culture, and the smell will be of the promise of great fresh bread to come.
This is a magical moment because you have started a relationship that may last your entire life, this baby can live as long as you do with the right care and attention.
Long term keep Betty in the fridge, only removing her from the fridge 24hrs before needing and giving her a feed and leaving her out in your kitchen to warm up and bubble back to life.
As your sourdough, Betty, is a living culture there is always the chance that she can die, this has happened to me in the past, where I have left the culture out to long and got the feed ratio wrong, if this happens don't worry you will know as the culture will smell disgusting and not have the yeasty fresh promise of a smell of what a fresh loaf is going to taste like. Dont worry just start again.
BAKING A SOURDOUGH LOAF
I have weighed my culture from the start, so at day six she stands at 750g, I will take 600g to make two loaves and that will leave me 150g to start the process all over again, by feeding 150g wholemeal flour and water and then placing back in the fridge. If you wanted to make more loaves, you can increase the feed and increase your starter, but two loaves a week is ample for us. The key here is the older the culture the more fabulous the sourdough loaf will be.
THE SOURDOUGH LOAF
460g strong white flour
300g Betty sourdough culture
10g sea salt
230ml warm water
Add all the ingredients to your bowl or work top, gently incorporate and bring together to form your dough, knead with the wave technique, by lifting up the wet dough from the furthest side from you, like the crest of a surfing wave, then pulling back toward you and tucking the crest under it's self just like a wave crashing on the beach, rolling in the air, repeat and within a few minutes (6) you will have a gorgeous smooth springy dough, that has not had any extra flour worked into it and has not been over worked, so that your loaf will be light and airy.
Leave the dough to prove and relax for 3-4hrs, cover with cling film in a warm place. Sprinkle a little flour on your work top and gently turn out the proved dough. Mould the dough into two loaf shapes, dust the proving baskets and place the dough into the baskets, leave it covered with a damp tea towel overnight to double slowly in size (12 hrs).
Heat your oven or wood fired oven to 230 degrees and very gently ease the light airy dough out of the baskets, trying not to disturb the dough. Give the loaf a signature mark and spray or sprinkle over a hint of water, bake for 30 minutes plus until golden and you get the hollow sound when tapped.
This is a fantastic curry and makes a change from the standard, the fact that the meat is on the bone makes a huge difference and fabulous depth of flavour.
2 kg goat on the bone
Juice of 6 limes
5 tbsp mild curry powder
3-5 tbsp of coconut oil
4 tbsp all purpose seasoning
1ltr chicken stock
2 onions finely chopped
2 inch ginger grated
2 habanero chillies chopped
4 cloves of garlic grated
15 all spice berries
1 red pepper diced
1 green pepper diced
3 large king Edward potatoes peeled and chopped
1-2 tbsp curry powder (optional)
5 spring onions finely sliced
large handful of chopped fresh coriander
small handful of flat leaf parsley chopped
salt and pepper to season
fresh lime juice to season
MARINATE THE GOAT
If you can marinate the goat over night it does make a difference, but if not a few hours will suffice. Coat the goat in the curry powder and lime juice, and rub in well, leave to marinate.
ONE POT COOKING
Heat the coconut oil and brown off the goat in batches, once browned off add the onion and gently pan fry for a few minutes, add the all spice seasoning, garlic, ginger, chillies and spice berries, stir in well and then add the chicken stock and cook on a gentle simmer for 3-4 hrs, stirring regularly to ensure that the goat does not stick to the bottom of the casserole dish. After 3hrs add your potatoes.
When the meat is almost falling off the bone, take off the lid and taste, you may want to add a little more curry powder or lime and then season with salt and pepper to taste. I like to reduce my curry sauce to a medium thick consistency so that I can scoop the sauce with my chapatti breads.
FOR THE CHAPATTI'S
chapatti flour brown
Take 2 handfuls of the chapatti flour and a big pinch of salt, mix together and slowly add enough tepid water to bring it together, more than you will think, you want a nice soft dough. Knead folding in air for until the dough is smooth and springy. Divide into balls, slightly bigger than a golf ball and roll out into a thin circle, then if you have a gas cooker turn the gas up to medium and just drop the chapatti on to the open flame, leave for 10 seconds and using tongs turn over, repeat a few times until puffed up and slightly charred, if like me you don't have a gas ring then heat a dry griddle pan and cook for approx 1 minute on each side until puffed and charred. Keep warm wrapped in a tea towel and enjoy. Food eaten with your hands is so much more sensual and exciting than using a knife and fork, albeit messy but marvellous.
After cooking a lovely Sunday lunch, we were indoors tidying up, when there was a muffled bang! I did not think anything of it, then my husband came and said to me, I need you to have a sense of humour and to expect the worse. I knew immediately that my oven must have had an accident.
The heat from the oven has cracked the slate base that I build the firebrick floor on top of. This is my error, I did not do any homework about what the base of the pizza oven should be made from when I built it. If I had put more than one supporting beam in place then the base would have still cracked under the heat but the supporting beams would have stopped the floor from falling through.
To repair I am going to build a new wall left and right, front to back inside the base and then slip on top RSJ supporting beams all the way across, then a heat resistant 1000 degree asbos board and then finally slide in a new floor layer and pug up, so in effect I am building a new base floor from below to support the existing base floor, as I believe the rest of the base floor will probably crack from future heat over time this is to minimise any movement of my oven firebrick floor and add permanent support.
I am missing cooking in my oven already, so hopefully I plan on getting this work underway next week and finishing within a week. Then I think she will have to be christened again with something spectacular, like pitt beef or another pizza party...
This is a dish that you cook the rice and curry separately then cook together for the fabulous flavours to mingle. I like to make my own biryani curry powder, it only takes a few minutes and rewards the dish with a much deeper sense of spices and flavours.
FOR THE CURRY BASE
5 cardamom pods bashed and seeds out
5 large onions fine sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
4 chicken breast or thigh meat chopped
2 red chillies fine diced seeds discarded
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon powder
1 inch grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves grated
4 King Edward potatoes diced
2 cups of peas
1/2 lemon juiced
salt and pepper
500ml chicken stock
FOR FINISHING TOUCHES
1 handful of toasted almond slices
small bunch of fresh coriander chopped
2 boiled eggs cut into quarters
Heat the oil in a large casserole pan and add the cardamom pods, seeds, bay leaf and cumin seeds, fry for 2 minutes, add one of the sliced onions and cook slowly for about 15 minutes until caramelised golden and soft. Coat the chicken in the garlic, ginger, chilli and ground spice powders, add to the pan and fry until sealed, add the potatoes, peas and chicken stock, and if needed to almost cover the meat and vegetables then bring to a gentle simmer and cover the dish, cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Leave on a really low heat while the rice cooks.
FOR THE BIRYANI RICE
1 cup of rice per 2 people
2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice
large pinch of saffron strands
large pinch of sea salt
1 jelly chicken stock cube
Rinse the rice well and place in a pan with the saffron and chicken stock, do not stir, pop the lid on and simmer for 5 minutes, do not take the lid off at any point, take off the heat and leave to finish cooking for another ten minutes this will give you perfect rice.
Spoon the rice in a thick layer over the curry in the casserole dish, turn up the heat until the curry is bubbling again and then place on a layer of tin foil and then the lid and pop in the wood fired oven or pre heated oven for approx 20 minutes, remove and leave un-touched for a further 10 minutes before serving.
While the biryani is baking and then resting, take the rest of the onions and a dash of ooil and fry over a medium heat until caramelised, sticky and golden brown, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the top of the biryani with the toasted almonds and fresh chopped coriander.
Traditionally this dish would be garnished with a couple of boiled eggs in quarters.