Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

Dark Chocolate Bread, absentee rarebit and pumpkin butter again

In Baking, Bread on June 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Well, while I can’t quite deliver on what I promised yesterday (documenting the meal) I did manage to document the bread I made – and got a picture of the pumpkin butter with the bread. The meal was rarebit on dark chocolate bread, however I chickened out of photographing the rarebit. I always feel a bit weird taking photos of my food when entertaining and often chicken out, plus I was starving! But I do think I will try and make rarebit again for myself, so fingers crossed for next time. It might seem like a weird choice – putting rarebit on chocolate bread, but the name ‘chocolate bread’ is a bit misleading. Basically it is just bread with 100g cocoa mixed in with the flour – there is nothing added to sweeten the bread and no real chocolate is involved. The result is a lovely rich, bitter bread which went beautifully with rarebit. The only downside was the shape of the loaf, which yielded small thick slices without much surface area to drown in cheese…or perhaps that was a good thing?

Anyhow, here is the recipe which comes from my tired and trusty ‘Bread’ book by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.

2 tsp dried yeast

400 ml tepid water

4 tbsp caster sugar (I used dark cane sugar)

400g strong white flour

100g cocoa

1 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 200-220 degrees. (The receipe says 220, but I find that is too hot in my oven so I baked on 200 – so it’s probably best to make a decision informed by your own oven.)

Sprinkle the yeast into 100 ml of the water. Leave for 5 mins, add sugar and stir to dissolve. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeasted mixture. Pour in remaining water, holding back about half and mix as needed to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and silky. Put dough in a clean bowl and leave to rise until double in size, about an hour – or a bit longer if the dough is not somewhere warm! Knock back the dough and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Shape dough into a round loaf and place on a lightly floured baking tray (or pizza stone, in my case) and leave to prove until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Dust the loaf with flour or cocoa powder and make a 2 slashes to form a cross with a sharp knife. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Beautiful Bell Peppers & Bell pepper relish…oh, and some pumpkin butter for good measure!

In Pickles & Preserves on June 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

I’m back…ish. Despite my best intentions…my plans of serious dedication to cooking post exams just haven’t quite materialized yet. I’ve been bad about photographing things and just spent 5 days not cooking and living off canned junk whilst staying at my parents house. No idea why. I have been both busy….and lazy.

Anyway, I have big plans for tomorrow (and someone joining me for dinner, which helps get me motivated) but I wanted to preview that by sharing some relish I made from a lovely gift from my grandparents – half a kg of handpicked beautiful bell peppers. Aren’t they beautiful? I’m not sure exactly where they came from, but I think my grandparents may have picked them from a friend’s property. My granny was kind enough to send a relish recipe along with the peppers, and I was somewhat intrigued by the approach – which required blending most of the ingredients before cooking them!

Sadly, I have since lost the recipe but I did end up changing it quite a bit anyway. This is my vague recollection of it:

500g bell peppers

2 green chillis, seeds discarded and finely chopped

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup – 1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup white wine vinegar (or was it two cups?)

lemon juice (of 1-2 lemons)

Sorry, my memory is really failing me on this one. But basically you begin with the most time consuming part – which is quartering all the bell peppers, discarding the seeds and removing any membrane. Put the peppers in a blender along with the chopped chillies, onion and garlic. Pulse, then add sugar and water. Transfer to pot and add vinegar, bring to boil and reduce until thickened. I can’t remember how much vinegar was used, but I’m sure you can just use your common sense. Even after reducing, it was something in between a sauce and a relish, but delicious and zingy nevertheless. I added a little lemon juice at the end to help make it set. Once reduced, transfer to sterilized jars and seal.

I was hesitant about posting this before I had something to serve it on (I’m planning on making bread this evening or tomorrow) but while it doesn’t look like much at the moment, it is nothing but deliciousness! Pumpkin butter, who would have thought? Oh, and please note that no butter is actually involved in the recipe. I more or less used this recipe as a reference, adjusting the quantities a bit – and sadly, I had run out of nutmeg so this batch of pumpkin butter is nutmeg free. Oh well, there’s always a next time. Hopefully I’ll be posting about what I make for dinner tomorrow, as well as photographing this being served with something!

Spiced Pumpkin Bread with Craisins

In Baking, Bread, Dessert on June 5, 2012 at 10:46 am

I made this for dessert today. It went down rather well; I managed to restrain myself to eating only 4 slices throughout the day! After smothering the main course – which was gnocchi – with a rich and cheesy sauce, I was quite glad I opted for this rather than pumpkin pie. Oddly, the idea came from a recipe for Persimmon bread, which called for a different kind of persimmon not usually available at our supermarkets (though apparently it is in Asian supermarkets) – though it suggested pumpkin as an alternative. I happened to have a pumpkin that needed using, so I ran with that.

My recipe is adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe:

1/2 cup (113 g) butter

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup – 2/3 cup approx. crasins (any dried fruit would do, I think)

1 cup mashed pumpkin

1/2 cup unsweetened yoghurt

1 cup soft brown sugar or cane sugar

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsuis/350 farenheit. Grease  9x5x3″ loaf tin. Soak crasins or dried fruit in boiling water for 20 mins, or microwave for 15 seconds on high. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Whisk mashed pumpkin with the yogurt and set aside. Cream butter with an electric beater in a third (large) bowl for a few minutes until creamy, then add the sugar. Once combined and fluffy, add the eggs – one at a time, mixing until combined. (You can do this by hand once you get to the egg stage) Add the dry ingredients slowly, adding in multiple batches, stirring until incorporated without overmixing. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little milk. Fold in dried fruit. Pour into greased tin and bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Serve with dollops of unsweetened yoghurt.

Poached Egg in Tomato with Chickpeas and Cheese

In Egg, Main meals on June 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Apologies for the lag between now and the last post. The intersemester ‘break’ has started therefore there’s even more potential for cooking procrastination – which hopefully means more posts! I made this for breakfast this morning, but am also planning on making gnocchi this afternoon. I am having guests around to dinner tomorrow evening so if all goes well, we shall feast on gnocchi and some sort of pumpkin dessert. I can’t decide between pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice bread – anyway, that is tomorrow’s problem!

I’ve decided to try and branch out a bit more with my recipes and be a little more experimental. I saw this recipe on Bon Appetit and there is also a similar one on Smitten Kitchen. I loved the sound of it, but wanted to adapt the recipe to be suitable for just one person. That said, a generous portion for one person – I enjoy a hearty breakfast! I had most of the ingredients that the recipe called for, but adapted the rest – and cooking utensils – to what I had on hand.

Generous splash olive oil, approx. 1/4 cup

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped

1 medium can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 can tomatoes – I used crushed and sieved, but I guess you could do it with most variations on canned tomatoes, provided they are crushed not whole. (Or if they are whole, crush them yourself)

Salt and pepper

Handful crumbled soft cheese – I used Whangaripo Valley Buffalo Fresca

1 egg

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp chopped coriander

Now, this recipe is essentially a one dish recipe and is meant to be cooked in an ovenproof skillet. Sadly, I still do not own an ovenproof skillet, so had to use a pan and a souffle dish, of all things! It worked fine, but if you do own a skillet I think cooking it in a skillet would be much easier.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius/425 farenheit. Heat oil in either a pan or a ovenproof skillet over med-high heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add the drained chickpeas, cumin and paprika. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the can of tomatoes. Stir for about 10 minutes until thickened slightly and season with salt and pepper.

[Now, this was the point where I had to transfer my sauce into the souffle dish. I thought it best to keep the souffle dish heated, so I left it in the oven. Of course, when I took the dish out of the 220 degree oven and poured in my sauce – the sauce sizzled and splattered (not all over the kitchen though, it could have been much worse) which is why in the photographs the dish has sauce splattered around the rim.

Anyway, if you are using two dishes like me – I suggest warming up your second dish, but maybe take it out of the oven a few minutes before transferring the sauce so it can cool a little. Transfer sauce to second dish. Obviously, if you are using a skillet – ignore all this.]

Crumble the soft cheese into the sauce and crack open an egg on the top. Put back in the hot oven and let egg cook until just set  – about 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven and top with the chopped parsley and coriander and tuck in!

One last thing; despite trying to adapt the recipe for one, I still had a little bit of sauce leftover – which I will probably end up eating over toast with more fresca. Because I needed to open tins of the tomatoes and chickpeas, I didn’t see the point of not using the whole can – but I’m sure if you used only half a can of each as well as slightly smaller dish, then it would work out to be decent portion for one person without leftovers.