29 June 2009

Dan Lepard - sprouted grain seed loaf

I believe this is the best loaf I've made to date

The recipe is here in the weekend Guardian, June 09

choice of ingredients I used

alfalfa sprouts
aduki beans
pumpkin seeds
spelt flour, for the rye amount
& 3/4 teasp dried yeast, 60g rye leaven

I used a 2lb tin, which doesn't look to be quite big enough, so the dough needed some scaffolding, which didn't affect the loaf one bit

simply does it - goats cheese salad

After easy peasy meatballs and linguine previously, it pays to keep it simple

goats cheese - Waitrose French
cured ham of choice

plus your vinaigrette

  • make you vinaigrette with walnut oil & olive oil, red wine vinegar, chives & salt/pepper
  • rub your salad bowl with a sliced garlic clove
  • toss leaves in vinaigrette in the bowl
  • grill lightly a circle of bread matching the size of the cheese disk
  • grill lightly the cheese on top of the bread

serve salad leaves, with cheese, with parma or serrano ham, dribbled with more vinaigrette

27 June 2009

meatballs & linguine

One of my husband's favourite dishes, and easy work for me!

make your easy peasy meatballs
mix into nutty linguine

23 June 2009

sourdough cooked in a pot

by Dan Lepard, the Times recipe here - Jan 2009

we were shown this method at the workshop, & of course, it works incredibly well

Talk about do-able

there are 3 processes before making your loaves
  1. to make your rye leaven
  2. to refresh your leaven before freezing
  3. to freeze your leaven into 25g nuggets for later use

then, when it comes to making your sourdough en cocotte,

1 leaven nugget
is activated in tepid water, flours added as per Dan's recipe

  • & it is animated over 24 hours into a fobby soured mix, left image
  • the following day room temperature water is added, centre image
  • & the required flours to make the bread dough, right image

to make the sourdough bread on the day - baked in a pot

you will need an aluminium pot that transfers to the oven, with an inside rim in the lid to create a tidy seal during the baking

  • follow mixing, resting & on-the-hour kneading process

  • until, when sliced thus, you can detect air bubbles of activity in the dough, not massive, just noticeable

  • where it is now ready to shape into a ball, cover & rest again, cross pattern, & then bake in a pot using Baking Parchment (not greaseproof)

perfect when toasted for breakfast too

20 June 2009

Dan Lepard : simple medium white leaven loaf

whilst attending Dan Lepard's sourdough workshop, I also took the opportunity to pass on some of my 4 month old white leaven to my 2 friends, Lucinda and Elisa.

& this Dan Lepard recipe is for their first attempt at a DL loaf, which will use leaven.
It's from the Cook Simply Everything, available via the Amazon link

Also, taking photos has proved a hindrance, so please forgive any imperfections here, it's a bit fiddly.
& I haven't got an inquisitive cat I can lay blame to. Just an inquisitive me.

I shaped both a ball first, & then a baton,
so you should choose either one or the other

120g natural leaven at room temperature
200g room temp water
One 7g teasp sea salt
300g strong white flour

Olive oil for kneading

08:50 till 10:00 - kneading the dough

  • combine the leaven and water, room temp is around 20 deg

  • mix the salt into the flour
  • add the leaven mix to the flour mix, pulling it together rapidly with your fingers, the dough reads approx 22 deg in temperature
  • cover & rest for 10mins
  • drop a blob of oil onto your work surface, coupled with your hands, & scrape your dough out onto it
  • that 1st quick knead, lift up (it comes away from the oiled surface), rotate a tad, quick rolling knead, lift up, rotate a tad, quick rolling knead ....................... for about 10 seconds in total
it's sticky work!

  • rest for 10mins, & repeat a 2nd knead
  • rest for 10mins & repeat a 3rd knead
  • rest for 30 mins this time

10:00 till 13:00 - folding the dough for the important initial rise

  • lightly flour your work surface this time
  • shape your rested dough into a rectangle
  • fold down the top long edge by a third
  • then fold up the other long edge by a third on top
  • fold in the left side by a third
  • and fold in the right side, like-wise

  • flip over and rest in you bowl for one hour

  • for a second time, repeat this fold, and rest for one hour
  • for a third time, repeat this fold, and rest for one hour
  • you can perform this a fourth time if your dough seems sluggish?

13:00 till 15:00 (or 16:00) - ball shaping

  • stretch out your dough into a flat round with your palm
  • place and support your dough on your hand, with your thumb resting in the centre
  • roll down a section of the edge with your other thumb and secure it with your first thumb into the centre with a press
  • rotate a tad
  • roll down the next section with your other thumb, secure it in the centre with your first thumb
  • work around the ball so that you have folded sections into the centre
  • turn it over to reveal a smooth round upper surface
  • cup your dough between your two hands
  • slide the dough one way, slowly across your bench, pushing with one hand, and securing with the other
  • now you have a tidy round loaf shape, underneath is the network of folds

baton shaping

  • on a floured surface or floured tea towel, stretch lift & pat out your dough to a long flat (rugby ball) shape
  • fold the top left corner in 2 inches, the right top corner in 2 inches, and the centre point you now have, fold that down 2 inches, firmly sealing the edges without air locks
  • rotate the dough 180 deg, and repeat the 3 folds ............... like so (another bread image but the same shaping)

  • now fold directly in half again along that central horizontal you see
  • & gently press to remove air
  • and roll with your hands karate style at the both edges, gently rocking it back and forth into a baton shape with tapered edges
  • now we have the shape, heavily flour a cloth with rye flour (I used white)
  • cradle your dough into the cloth seam side uppermost, cover and leave for 2 hours - or 3 hours - to rise by almost double

15:00 or 16:00 - the bake

  • heat your oven to 220 deg C, (with an oven dish or tray underneath to create steam)
  • roll your risen dough, seam side down, onto a lightly floured tray
  • & boldly gash with a sharp serrated fruit knife

  • add a coffee cup of water to the tray
  • & bake your bread for 20mins
  • turn the temperature down to 190, and bake for another 15 or 20 mins

  • cool on a wire rack

16 June 2009

great baking from Australia: Dan Lepard sourdough masterclass

sourdough bread & herb flatbread

Inspiration for my post title from here

On Friday, I attended Dan Lepard's sourdough masterclass, run from Cookery School, in Little Portland Street, London (not Australia).

A beautiful fresh morning greeted me outside the doors at 09:00, always a good start to any day, ordinary or otherwise.
I'm feeling a bit nervous for some strange reason, I haven't done anything like this before, so maybe I'm worried about being the straggler in the class. Who knows.

Down into the crisp, clean, modern classroom with another student called Francesca from Sicily, who is to be my baking buddy during the day (I just wish I'd got her email address now). We get along so well.
But even more, we are welcomed with such warmth by our hosts Dan & David, my trepidation disappears in a wisp. I admire that comfort quality in people.

& then a fellow blogger Linda arrives too, from with knife and fork

There are 9 of us, & we're making 2 styled loaves of breads today, Dan is here making 3 of the flatbread focaccia ready for our luncheon.
So we get off to a flying start by setting our doughs up & proving, coupled seamlessly with expert tuition by Dan.

Our ingredients are weighed and made for us - which has proved to me how important prep and order is in bread baking, indeed in cooking.

and we work with the focaccia first, getting the shape in order, & it's flavoured toppings - aromatic fresh rosemary
with Maldon sea salt

Our deliciously tempting breads are baked for us, & everyone there has made a great success of theirs.

& we make progress on with our second sourdough loaf.

We shape, & are shown the technique needed to wrap & prove our bread loaves in floured linen, thick canvas that I would normally use for painting.
Once risen, one by one, we are invited to slash the bread for it's finishing design before baking

One - two - three gashes!

Dan remarked "you've done this before" ........... you've noticed ........ but I didn't want to brag, oh no.

In the background there is the gentle hum of activity from the opposite side of the room over to where the ovens are. Our lunch is being prepared for us:
Inclusive of Dan's very own 1 of 3 focaccia.

It's freshly cut here in front of us, before being lifted to our dining table.
Francesca declares it to be "The Best!" - she should know, her grandmother was the local village baker back home in Sicily.

That luncheon as I remember:
- a rich meaty medium coarse pate
- another creamed smoked mackerel pate
- a fresh leaf, tomato & vegetable salad with a tangy vinaigrette
- gherkins
- plus a generous cheese plate & red & white wine at table
the latter are perfect company for Dan's noticeably acid sourdough loaf

After easy, comfortable talking and eating, my name is called out from the kitchen.
"Gill". That's my focaccia bread ready.

Louisa takes a photo for me using my own camera, a nice record for me of my day.

and now we move on to shaping bread. This, I just cannot get on my own, in my isolated home kitchen.
So I'm pretty keen to pay extra double attention.
With pseudo dough - not edible - we get feeling and shaping & moving that dough
- baguettes - shaped twists - bread rolls - batons with tapered ends that are designed to crisp & burn

- & a rather impressive leaf baton. That's one for dinner parties I reckon:

It's important to be aware of the seam line as you're working.

And now it's coming up for 5pm, and a close to the masterclass.
My day's baking with the best bread maker has come to an end. Actually, I wouldn't half mind doing it all over again.

Nothing is rushed as one by one we take our leave, coupled with a pleasant chat at the end of the day, and I'm given a "goody bag". More flour than I can carry, and baking kit with a nifty little bread scraping tool inside.

I've already got the Handmade Loaf, but I see a book I've not bought, Cook Simply Everything, an all rounder of a cookbook from several chef experts combined, with those contributions from Dan re. breads & batters starting at page 341. It's a big book.

So I ask Dan to sign it please.

& then I must leave the warmth of the pro-kitchen, out into the London Street to start on my journey to tell my husband Tony absolutely everything I now know about sourdough bread making.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Cookery School at Little Portland Street: http://www.cookeryschool.co.uk/
Dan Lepard's website: http://www.danlepard.com/index.htm
The Handmade Loaf book: http://www.danlepard.com/content/pages/books.htm

14 June 2009

painting the Cyclist

Antony doubles up as a cyclist fanatic and a mosaic sculptor.

I've made mention previously, I am not too fussed with the likeness, as I am trying to paint the essence of the sitter, the feel of who is in front of me.

The cyclist only sits for 2 short sessions, so I'm working quickly.

He folds his arms, he unfolds his arms, so I make my decision to force a bold pose upon him, strong, with those arms tightly crossed.

I can't stop looking at his sporty arm band, and end up making quite a big deal of it after all.
& whilst I'm painting and splashing the colours around to recreate his vivid, scruffy cycling top, I am told by him that he had a cycling accident in France, & when they stitched his right eyebrow back on, it was up in his hairline.
He had to have it corrected when back home in England.

How odd I thought!

So I've given him a cicatriz - a mild scar over his right eyebrow to mark the moment I put my brushes down as I paused to listen to his short story.

I was going to make the background red, once the dark pressing surroundings I'd made on the canvas had dried, but I decide to leave things be. & I would like to have made more work of the painting, but no matter. The moment is complete.

& 'the Cyclist' is now signed & framed, and I shall move on to another canvas & subject.

LE CAFÉ ANGLAIS at Queensway

Sad amendment to my review, just 6 months later.

We had a meal last week at le Cafe Anglais, 13th June 2009, and it was less than mediocre (mediocre being the standard of a chain restaurant like Cafe Rouge).

Both our fish courses, one turbot at £28
not inclusive of sides, the other sea trout at £21, came with a sloppy serving of salt water slick on our plates, and, save the sea salt, the meal was bland.

In concert with warm white wine, we were offered ice at our table to cool it down.

Now, I'm a huge fan, but that was a dramatic sad decline all of a sudden, that I really was not expecting.


Review dated 13 December 2008

I hadn't realised that Rowley Leigh had a restaurant.
So our not having set foot on London soil since leaving Kew 7 years ago, this seemed the perfect reason to venture back.

is how a London restaurant should be.
& that all important service gets 10/10.
The atmosphere is one of walking on the decks of an old ocean liner.
& the food is stunning. Not that it's creative genius, it's just it's perfectly pitched for us.

I haven't felt this good about a dining experience since the Bibendum restaurant back in 1999 for Sunday lunch.
The kitchen area is open plan, I do like that, & the chef Rowley Leigh is cooking in full view, I do like that too.

A drink at the dinky bar zone, and we stroll to our generous space of a table. There doesn't appear to be a bad seat in the house.

& that menu!
I wasn't the least bit interested in having "a roast", but I'm not so sure now, having seen the meats on parade at the kitchen front.
Nope, a different choice I think, that old mantra - something I haven't cooked at home.

My husband chooses very wisely indeed, the beef hash, I try it, it's deliciously good. Each part of the dish is discernible, and the gravy bold. How does he make that, I wonder.
I select the foie gras terrine, foie gras sourced in France, the terrine made in house - I did ask. It's like cool cream, I thought the terrine from the Alsace was great, but this was superior. I'd love the recipe, but I don't ask.

Now the wine.
We've been to the Cahors region in summer, my husband swimming up and down in the young plan d'eau lake - strivng for the perfect swimming stroke - whilst I paint it. So we order the Cahors Cuvée Maurin 2004 Domaine de La Berangeraie; the uncle of the gite owners where we stayed has a vineyard, one of 240, it may even be his, who knows.
We have something in common with the member of staff who serves us, casually remarking his granny lives 20 miles from Cahors too.
It's that service again, relaxed, professional & never intrusive.

The main plate. I know my husband likes it a lot, as he asks if I can recreate it at home.
He has ordered the pheasant & red cabbage, plus his favourite vegetable, steamed spinach. He could have had the spinach with cream but doesn't enjoy it that way one little bit.

I choose rabbit. Rabbit leg and breast with beetroot and chilli, plus my favourite potato, gratin dauphinois.
Both meals are succulent for different reasons. And Tony points out that the spinach is divine, & that's no mean feat.
I'd love to recreate the rabbit, but already I'm troubled by the fact my husband doesn't eat bunnies - he heroically tries my dish sans meat. I don't want to jiggling before I've even started, so I'll just have to leave my intentions be, and resign the rabbit dish back into the realms of a memory of the restaurant.

One criticism, there's high seasoning in the dishes (say "a lot of salt" Gill). But I always find that in France restaurants too.

So now we wind down the evening. We don't order sweets, my husband never has them and I don't like eating alone.
As we take our leave of our the table for the evening, we get a gentlemanly wave in acknowledgement of our presence by Rowley Leigh.

I do like that a lot.

LE CAFÉ ANGLAIS, nearest tube Queensway & Bayswater
8 Porchester Gardens

020 7221 1415
website: http://www.lecafeanglais.co.uk/

10 June 2009

2 weeks cured Irish beef

Rowley Leigh's cured Irish beef, manchego, tomatoes and pickles

on this occasion, cured for 15 days, not 24, with a mix of:

10 bay leaves, black pepper, 100g rock salt, 1.7kilo silverside, juniper & mustard seeds

7 June 2009

spicy Indian paste: vindaloo & naan bread

So that's the end of my vindaloo paste that has lived in my fridge for a year now

I've been using it as my regular recipe for a few years, but it's time for a change of heart.

Now which paste to replace it with?

I've tried a madras one, which wasn't as good.

So I'm now on the hunt for a replacement regular pot of paste.

and another thing!
I put 2 tablespoons of dessicated coconut into one of the naans, made with Dan Lepard leaven again.
But in the cooking lost track of which one was jazzed up a bit.

& on eating, neither my husband nor I could tell which one it was. I wonder where all that coconut hit went to!