Brioche 10 2016

Bringing Out the Big Buns

I think if you are a parent you will find yourself at some point say something that your young child will think is the funniest thing and from that time forward it becomes an in joke.

Several years ago we were having a family game afternoon, I think it was Monopoly, and I was ready to make a big move.  I meant to say “I’m bringing out the big guns!”  Instead I said “I’m bringing out the big buns!”  Oh boy.  The kids just lost it laughing.

This past weekend I managed to do it for real with brioche.  I was going for small but ended up with the opposite.  I was planning on making cheeseburgers so I wanted to make the buns.  I found a brioche recipe by Paul Hollywood.  Most of the recipes follow pretty much the same ingredient list.  I chose to follow his because he used weights for the ingredients.  This is a two day affair.

Brioche 1 2016

In a large mixer bowl add 500g of bread flour, 7g of salt, 50g of sugar, and 10g of yeast.  Keep the yeast separate from the salt until you start mixing.

Brioche 2 2016

Add 5 medium eggs and 140ml of whole milk that has been warmed.  You don’t want the milk to be hot, just warm to the touch.

Brioche 3 2016

With a dough hook blend all the ingredients together.  Once the ingredients are combined increase the speed of the mixer to medium and “knead” for 6-8 minutes.  The dough will become shiny and elastic.

Brioche 4 2016

Add 250g of softened butter.

Brioche 5 2016

Mix until the butter is completely incorporated.  You will need to scrap the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure all the butter is mixed in.  This will create a very soft pliable dough.

Brioche 6 2016

Place the dough into a plastic container with a lid.  Put it into the fridge overnight.  You want at least 7 hours to chill.  The next day flour a counter well and tip out the stiffened dough onto the countertop.

Brioche 7 2016

Punch the dough down to remove the air.  I followed the recipe and divided the dough into 9 equal pieces.  Paul Hollywood’s recipe called for baking this in a round tin with nine balls proofing together.  I wanted separate buns so I got out a cookie sheet.  Roll out each piece into smooth balls.

Brioche 8 2016

Evenly space out the balls.  Spray cling film with oil and cover the dough.  Proof the dough for 2-3 hours.   They will be about double the size.   Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Brioche 9 2016.JPG

Bake until the brioche is golden brown and cooked through.  You will need to check with a skewer to make sure the brioche is done.  It takes about 20-30 minutes.

Brioche 10 2016

It was at this point I realised I probably should have made 18 balls of dough.  Here were the big buns.  Keep in mind I only had a pound of ground beef which means quarter pounders with buns that could take a lot more.  Harkens back to the “Where’s the Beef” adverts.

Brioche 11 2016

You want an even crumb that is soft and bounces back when pressed with your finger.  If it stays indented it wasn’t baked completely.

Brioche 12 2016

I made up our gourmet burgers and kept it simple with a side of chips.  This bread isn’t difficult to make and the flavour is really good.  If you can find the time I highly recommend giving this a go.

White wine sage pork 4 2016

White Wine and Sage for Pork

It was a fantastic weekend.  It just felt really productive and it was fun to hang out with the kids after our holiday.  The meds for the fibro have started to work so I feel like I’m on a roll now.  And gathering steam!

The weather was perfect and no forecast of frost so it was time to clear out the house of the multitude of seedlings we have growing.  It can be hard to time when to start them because we have no idea when the danger of frost has past.  It can be the beginning of April or the end of May.  We got most of it planted and we’re just left with the tomatoes.  I was playing it safe in case the weather people were wrong.  Which never happens.  Ahem.

I was also in crazy baking mode.  I found some burratta at the shops and wanted to do an Italian night with the kids so I made ciabatta and chopped up fresh tomatoes to go with the burratta as a starter.  I also made brioche and shortbread which I’ll be posting about soon.

I flipped through the cookery book that I have by Marcella Hazan and she had a recipe with white wine and sage for pork ribs.  I used it as an inspiration though the only two ingredients I used was the white wine and the sage.  I had a pork loin to cook for this.

White wine sage pork 1 2016

We have discovered that my son, who hates mushrooms, is ok with oyster mushrooms.  So we found some nice fresh mushrooms to pair with the fresh sage.   I chopped enough mushrooms to make up a cups’ worth.  I also finely chopped 3-4 cloves of garlic and a handful of fresh sage.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the pork with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides.

White wine sage pork 2 2016

Finish it off in the oven at 350F/175C.   In the skillet add a bit more olive oil and the mushrooms.  Saute for a few minutes then add the garlic.

White wine 3 2016

Once the mushrooms have browned a bit add 3/4 cup of dry white wine and 1/2 a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and add the sage.  After the sauce has reduced by a third season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

I also made a mash with potato and parsnip.  To dish up add the mash and topped with sliced pork and the sauce.

White wine sage pork 4 2016

I felt the sage was a strong flavour so I would back off the sage a bit for myself but my family all thought different.  Funny how taste buds work!

Quite the Diesel Show in Swanage

The main reason for the timing of our trip to England was the springtime Diesel Gala at Swanage Railway.  Obviously we were there for friends and family but if we can get our train fix than all the better!

We had the perfect weather for this trip and it really made the gala shine.  A few locos trickled at the beginning of the week but several came in as a convoy on the Wednesday before the gala.  My husband and I have fun “racing” the convoy from Corfe Castle to Swanage.

Diesel gala 1 2016

Because they need to come down when the rails aren’t busy we don’t get a lot of light for the display but it was still loads of fun.  It is so impressive the amount of work the volunteers put into this.  There is quite a lot of logistics to wrangle.  We stayed in Swanage well after dark watching them shunting the locos round to get them staged for the first day.

Diesel gala 2 2016

Diesel gala 3 2016

Diesel gala 9 2016

We bought a three day pass for this so we just rode the rails so to speak enjoying all the different locos and watching the locos changing out at Norden.

Diesel gala 4 2016

Diesel gala 5 2016

I had been noticing people perched up on the hill at the castle in Corfe taking pictures.  When I say perched, I mean just that.  It’s almost like a cliff!  I can’t imagine having to storm the castle with armor, shields, and weapons.  It seems like an impossible task to me!  But it does give you the perfect spot to watch the locos go over the viaduct.

Diesel gala 6 2016

Diesel gala 7 2016

Diesel gala 8 2016

Still need to get over there for a Steam Gala but this was a lot of fun.  The vibe was great and it was just what we needed to have a blast.  A huge success all round.  :)

 

Victorian sponge 9 2016

Victorian Sponge and a Fabulous Trip

There is something really surreal about being in London in the morning and the Hannafords grocery store in NH at night on the same day.  It messes with your head.  But we had an amazing trip.  The weather was just gorgeous, we even got a bit of a tan!  I didn’t blog as much I as planned because I forgot the cord for my camera.  Like most people I always forget something.  At least it wasn’t something major like a passport.

A few years ago I had tried to make a Victorian Sponge and it failed.  The middle wouldn’t cook and it was heavy, basically the opposite of what it should be.  I wasn’t sure if my technique was off or the flour was just different enough.  So it was on my list to make it while visiting my in-laws.  My MIL makes a fabulous Victorian Sponge.  My son is a fan so I wanted to get this figured out.

My MIL is a great teacher as it came out perfect!  Enough that I will be trying this here at home with our flour.

The cookery book she had is called The Dairy Book of Home Cookery.  No idea who wrote it as it didn’t indicate.  Which is weird.

If at all possible use a hand mixer rather than the big mixers as you need to be delicate with the batter.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Prepare two 7in/18cm tins by greasing with butter.  Cut out circles of parchment paper to line the bottom of the tins.

Victorian sponge 1 2016

In a mixing bowl add 4oz of caster sugar and 4 oz of softened butter.  Cream the two ingredients together with the hand mixer.

Victorian sponge 2 2016

Now this is where I went a bit wrong the first time I made this.  I was about to move on to the next step when my MIL said I wasn’t close!  Keep mixing.  And be patient.  It needs to be pale in colour and fluffy.

Victorian sponge 3 2016

Weigh out 4 oz of self raising flour.  Take a tablespoon of flour to the mixture and add an egg.

Victorian sponge 4 2016

Mix well and repeat this step with another egg.

Victorian sponge 5 2016

Sift the remaining flour in and gently fold it into the egg and butter mixture.

Victorian sponge 6 2016

You want to keep it airy as you do this step, don’t crush the fluffiness!  Divide the batter between the two tins.

Victorian sponge 7 2016

Bake for 25-30 minutes until it is golden brown and is springy to the touch.

Victorian sponge 8 2016

Cool for a few minutes then turn out on cooling racks.  Once it is cool spread jam of your choice onto one of the cakes and top with the other cake.  We used my Mil’s amazing rhubarb and ginger jam.  I’ll have to try to recreate it.  Delicious!  Sift powdered sugar on top.

Victorian sponge 9 2016

Serve when ready.  Add a cup of tea and enjoy!

Victorian sponge 10 2016

So glad my MIL helped me with this because this is definitely a treat we love.  :)

Tips: If the batter comes out a little dry because of the flour add a little milk.  For different flavours add a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract.

 

img_0377-2

The Dorset Coast

We have been having a wonderful visit back in the UK.  It is going by very quickly though, wish there was a way to slow it down.  Right now we are on the train to London on our way to Manchester.  Since our last visit they have put wifi on the trains so I can blog while we travel.  Which is great because with the diesel gala and day trips I haven’t had time!  

Mixed emotions today as it is hard to leave family but I am very excited to head up north as it’s been 13 years, which is far too long.  We’re staying with my friend that I’ve known for 42 years!  Since I was in nappies.  

While we were in Swanage we did a few day trips on the coast.  It was just breathtaking.  And a challenge!  With the steep climbs I really pushed my back.  I’m paying for it now but it felt really good to actually get up the hills.  Getting to the top makes it all worth it with the views.

The first coast trip was to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.  I have to say we’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather, sun for the whole trip with the exception of the last two days.  We both have a bit of a farmer’s tan.  

Here are some pics of that day.  I tried several times to load small video but the wifi can’t handle it.  It was becoming the definition of insanity!


The next day we drove to Portland Bill, a lighthouse on an island sticking out about six miles into the channel.  There is a guided tour to the top of the lighthouse and the guide showed us a map showing all the known shipwrecks in the immediate area.

A famous one, the Royal Adelaide, happened in 1872.  Because it happened close enough to the beach everyone was rescued.  Great success!  The next day they found 20 people dead on the beach.  Turns out some locals thought it would be a good idea to rescue the gin on the boat by drinking it.  They died of exposure.  Darwinism at work, unfortunately.



I have a few blog posts to do when we get back home including a Victorian Sponge.  Ooh la la.  😊.  But first we’re going to enjoy the last few days of our trip which include a visit to the East Lancashire Railway.  Should be fun!

img_0369-1

Footplate Ride on the 31806

Whenever we travel back to the UK I always have a list of things to do and eat.  Once we land and make our way to Swanage we pop down to the water and I get my fish n chips.  Clears the cobwebs.  Nothing like the sea air to give you a second wind, or third or fourth, depending on how hard it is to stay awake.

Of course I always ask my FIL if it’s possible to have a footplate ride.  I make sure I pack clothes that can get dirty and trainers that are on their last legs.  Today I was able to have a ride on the 31806 and it was fabulous!  The weather was amazing, which is good as this one is an open cab.  Must be miserable in the rain but I didn’t have to worry about that!

Loco Yard had done a post about this particular loco a few years ago.  Originally it was a K class and rebuilt into a U class in 1928.  It’s home is now at the Swanage Railway.  I have to say I really enjoyed this loco.  I love how the little kids get so excited when they see it coming.  Well, and the big kids to.  I felt I should have worked on my royal wave with all the waving going on!

Here are some pictures and videos to share with you.


Next weekend the diesel gala is happening which makes my husband happy.  Fingers crossed the weather holds!

Bakewell tart 10 2016

Bakewell Tart and Delicious Traditions

Another season down and on to feeding the creative side of my brain!  I managed to end the tax season in my typical fashion of coming down with a really bad cold.  So much for hitting the ground running.  I am finally catching up with everything.  Unfortunately bills and things have to have a higher priority than blogging.  Boo.

Part of my inspiration this year for blogging is to bake or cook dishes that have a bit of family tradition.  I place a great deal of value on having a connection with the past as we go forward with the new generations.  I don’t like history forgotten.

A few weeks ago I asked my dad what treats his mum cooked or baked when he was growing up.  My Grandma is someone I’d love to go back in time and spend a day baking with.  She was incredibly smart and the ultimate multi-tasker.  I sometimes think she would read, watch telly, and do the cross word at the same time because her brain needed the high end exercise.  She passed away when I was very young but I have wonderful memories of her.

My dad responded with a list of things she would make like amazing homemade bread, sponge cake, and bramley apple pies.  She would also make bakewell tarts.  As this has been on my list for awhile I thought that would be a great place to start.

The recipe I used was from the Baking with Mary Berry baking book my sister gave me for my birthday.  It is actually pretty straight forward.

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

In a mixing bowl add 1 1/2 cups of flour and 6 tablespoons of cold butter.  You will see this is not for the faint of heart when it comes to butter!

Bakewell tart 1 2016

Using a pastry fork blend the butter and flour until well blended.  You want it to look like small bread crumbs.  I found it weird that no salt was in the recipe.  It wasn’t too bad but next time I make it I would add about 1/4 tsp of salt.

Bakewell tart 2 2016

The next step is to add a bit of cold water at a time until the pastry comes together.  This part is hard to explain as you don’t want it too dry or too wet.  So keep adding until is just comes together.  This step always brings me back to when my dad taught me how to make pastry.  He learned from my Grandma.  I was an adult when he taught me but it was still fun standing side by side learning from him.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, melt 9 tablespoons (see what I mean?) and add 1/2 cup of sugar.  Cook for a minute or so.  Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Bakewell tart 5 2016

A one large egg, beaten, 3/4 cup of rice flour, and 1/2 tsp of almond extract.  Mix well.

Bakewell tart 6 2016

Set aside.  Grease a tart pan that has a loose bottom.  The recipe called for 7 1/2in/19cm diameter pan.  I don’t have one of those but I have a rectangle one roughly the same area size.  Roll out the pastry and lightly press into the pan.

Bakewell tart 4 2015

Trim the excess and set aside.  Spread raspberry jam on the bottom of the pastry.  I kept it a bit too thin this time round but I will put more in.

Bakewell tart 7 2016

Pour in the filling and then cut the excess pastry in to strips and place them in a criss cross pattern.  Brush with milk.

Bakewell tart 8 2016

Bake for about 45-50 minutes until golden brown and the filling is set.

Bakewell tart 9 2016

If you would like dust it with icing sugar.

Bakewell tart 10 2016

This isn’t overly complicated and is worth the effort to make.  The almond and raspberry flavours are a great pairing.  I hope I did my Grandma proud.  :)

Moroccan lamb soup 5 2016

Moroccan Lamb Soup

Mother Nature has been messing with us a lot this past week.  Winter had a lot of periods of spring weather and so far spring has ushered in winter weather.  We’ve had freezing temps and snow.  Not amused!  Fortunately we haven’t had anything in the garden yet and the bulbs seem to be holding their own which is good.

It did present a perfect time for baking and soup last weekend.  I found some nice stewing lamb at the co-op and I was in the mood for Moroccan flavours.  Something to take the chill off.

This is an easy soup to throw together.  In a bowl add 1/2 a cup of flour, a tablespoon of ground tumeric, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of paprika.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Moroccan lamb soup 1 2016

Mix thoroughly.  I got about a pound of lamb for this meal.  Cut it up in small pieces, an inch/2.5cm square or so.  Toss in the flour mixture to coat.

Moroccan lamb soup 2 2016

In a large saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Brown the lamb in the saucepan for several minutes.

Moroccan lamb soup 3 2016

Chop up a small onion and a few cloves of garlic.  Add to the pan and saute for a few more minutes.

Moroccan lamb soup 4 2016

For some reason, I spaced on taking pictures for the next few steps.  Don’t know what I was doing!  Add 4 cups of vegetable bouillon to the pan.  I use a paste mixed with water rather than the dry cubes.  For this I kept it on the light side so the flavour was subtle.  Grate a piece of fresh ginger that is about 1 1/2 inches/3-4 cm square.  Simmer for a couple of hours at a low temp.  Cube an aubergine and add to the soup in the last hour of cooking.  After it simmers for awhile check the seasoning and adjust as needed.  I added a bit more tumeric and paprika to mine.  When the lamb is tender and cooked so it’s falling apart it is ready to serve.

Moroccan lamb soup 5 2016

You can’t go wrong with lovely crusty bread and butter with this.  As warming this soup was I am looking forward to the weather behaving itself so we can get back to grilling and salads.  I am ready for spring!

Pear gooseberry cake 1 2016

Pear and Gooseberry Cake

Oh, just two more weeks of tax season and then I can get back to blogging more regularly.  Can’t wait!  Yesterday I didn’t have time to blog because I was baking and cooking up a storm.  It felt so good to be up and moving about.

The PT is working really well.  I went back to Pilates and last week after doing a forearm plank suddenly my shoulder felt fixed.  Figured out the bicep tendon had been flipped out of it’s groove for months.  Geez, if I had known doing planks would help I would have done that a lot sooner!  It’s wonderful not to feel old and infirm.  Can’t tell you how excited I am about this!

For St Patrick’s Day I usually cook something Irish.  Go figure, right?  As a treat I found a Pear and Gooseberry Cake with a Black Currant Compote in The Irish Isle by Sharon O’Connor.

Pear gooseberry cake 1 2016

It can be tricky to find ripe pears and because I only decided to do this on the day, the pears were pretty hard.  I microwaved them for a bit to soften them a little.  They were still on the firm side after baking but it was balanced with the softer gooseberries.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Pear gooseberry cake 2 2016

This is a cake not made with a mixer.  In a bowl mix together 1 3/4 cups of self rising flour, pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of ground ginger.

Pear gooseberry cake 3 2016

Cut in 4oz of cold butter into the flour mixture.  You want to mix the butter in well enough that it looks like bread crumbs.

Pear gooseberry cake 4 2016.JPG

Add in the two pears, chopped and about 1 1/2 cups of gooseberries.  The recipe calls for 3 cups but that would be way too much and put out the cake out of balance.  Mix well.  Add a 1/2 cup of sugar.

Pear gooseberry cake 5 2016

Add 2 beaten eggs and 1/2 a cup of milk.  Mix and then spread out into a 9 x 13″ pan.

Pear gooseberry cake 6 2016

Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Pear gooseberry cake 7 2016

While the cake is baking put a cup or so of black currants in a small saucepan.  Add about a 1/2 a cup of water.  Bring it to a simmer.  Gradually add brown sugar until you get the balance of sweet and tart you like.  Just don’t make it thick like jam.  I kept it on the tart side because my husband loves the flavour of the black currants.

Pear gooseberry cake 8 2016

This is a very moist cake with a lovely sweet and tart flavour to it.  I do apologise for the last picture.  My camera was being wonky, I think because the batteries weren’t  charged properly.  I have to say it’s nice that it is so light later now, I’m back to being able to use natural light again.

Garlic butter chicken 4 2016

Garlic Butter Chicken and Finding Peace

A few weeks ago I got to the bank before it opened and was waiting in the foyer with an older gentleman.  As we were waiting one of the employees came through and kind of just looked at us without saying anything and closed the door firmly.  I get they have to be careful with security but I commented it would have been nice if she was friendly or said hi.

The older gentleman just said it was ok and she may be having a bad day.  He chooses to not let the negativity to affect him.  And then he just smiled.  This is how I’d like to be.  Not letting the negativity round me become internalised.  He seemed to have found his inner peace and he seemed to be enjoying life.  Have to admit I was a bit envious with that.

I hope I can find that balance!  I definitely enjoy life but it would be nice to not let myself be affected by outside forces so much.  I’m getting there.  :)

For those of you that have followed my blog for awhile you won’t be surprised when I say one of my favourite ingredients is garlic.  We also love breaded pan fried chicken.

To bread the chicken dip it a beaten egg then panko bread crumbs.  Brown in a skillet with butter.

Garlic butter chicken 1 2016

I slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  One because it keeps the portions sane and two it cooks more evenly.  Once cooked remove from the skillet and keep warm.

Garlic butter chicken 2 2016

Melt a few tablespoons of butter and add 4-5 cloves of garlic that are coarsely chopped.  Saute for a couple of minutes on medium heat.  You don’t want the garlic to get browned or burnt.  Add a 1/2 cup or so of chicken stock and a 1/4 cup of dry white wine, bring to a simmer.  Add a handful of chopped fresh parsley.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Garlic butter chicken 3 2016

While this part was cooking I cooked up some potatoes and parsnips to mash.  Serve with the chicken over the potatoes and spoon the sauce over the top.

Garlic butter chicken 4 2016

This is lovely with a glass of pinot grigio.  I don’t know what it is about panko encrusted chicken but I love it.