Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Very Seedy, Very Easy, Wholemeal Bread

Very Seedy, Very Easy, Wholemeal Bread 1

If you happen to be in the mood for a bit of effortless breadmaking, you don't have to look very far to discover that there is a multitude of "no-knead" bread recipes out there, both slow and fast versions - in fact a Google search will yield 2,320,000 results.  This is one of my favourites, and one I make on a fairly regular basis;  however, with an 18 hour rise time, it does require a bit of forward planning.

When, I'm looking for something with a faster turn around time, I often turn to Ruth Pretty's Quick Wholemeal Bread.  I've been making and dabbling with this recipe a lot lately, and I love this variation which is loaded with sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds, as well as linseed.  This is so quick to make that on Sunday morning (when I discovered there was no toast in the house for my breakfast), I was able to actually whip us this loaf and scarf down a couple of slices all before racing out the door to work.  Preparation time is no more than 15 minutes;  into a low temp oven to rise while I have a quick shower;  then crank up the heat and, by the time I'm dressed and make-up routine is done, it's ready to come steaming out of the oven.  The hardest part of the whole production is finding enough patience to let this cool a bit before cutting into the loaf!

I know there are many women out there (maybe men too, for all I know), who are so efficient they can vacuum the house, do the washing and hang it out, make school lunches, and cook breakfast, all before heading out the door in the morning ... I am not one of them.  So, I promise you that if I can make a loaf of this bread before work, anyone can.  Go on - put it to the test.

Very Seedy, Very Easy, Wholemeal Bread 2

Very Seedy, Very Easy, Wholemeal Bread Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Ruth Pretty from
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1-3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons honey
3-1/2 teaspoons active dried yeast
225g (8 oz) wholemeal flour ** (see note below)
225g (8 oz) plain flour ** (see note below)
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
3x tablespoons sunflower seeds
2x tablespoons sesame seeds
1x tablespoon linseed
2x tablespoons pumpkin seeds, plus extra

Preheat oven to 80 degrees C (175 degrees F), and lightly oil a 21cm (8 inch) x 11cm (4-1/4 inch) loaf tin.

In a small bowl or jug, dissolve the honey in the lukewarm water, and sprinkle in the yeast.  Stir to combine.  Cover bowl with a tea towel and set aside for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture is "spongy" and slightly risen.

In a separate, large bowl, combine the flours, sea salt and seeds.  Make a well in the centre, and pour the yeast mixture into the well.  Using a wooden spoon, mix everything to combine well.

Empty the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the top, sprinkle with extra pumpkin seeds, and put into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Now increase the oven temperature to 210 degrees C (410 degrees F) for a further 30 minutes.  By this stage your loaf should be brown and crusty on top, and sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from oven, turn out of tin, and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

** Note:  Feel free to adjust the proportion of flours here to suit yourself, or experiment with other flours - maybe try including a bit of rye flour or kibbled wheat - just keep the total combined weight of flour to 550g (16 oz).

Very Seedy, Very Easy, Wholemeal Bread 3

This bread keeps fresh enough for sandwiches for at least 3 days, and is excellent toasted with the topping of your choice.  I think you could make endless variations on this loaf - I'm planning to try a rosemary, black olive and parmesan variation, and I think some fruit and nut combinations could be pretty good too.

The Ruth Pretty Cookbook
The Ruth Pretty Cookbook is available in New Zealand from Fishpond

Monday, January 14, 2013

Roasted Apricot Gelato

Roasted Apricot Gelato 3

I love this time of year, when the ice cream maker comes out of the cupboard and starts to work overtime, and beautiful summer berries and stone fruit are available in abundance.  Now I make and enjoy homemade ice creams and sorbets all year round, but this is the time when I really want to go to town churning out tubs full of luscious, deep flavoured, fruity gelato.

A bowlful of apricots I had on hand this week were destined for exactly this treatment I decided.  I actually used slightly under-ripe fruit because I wanted that little bit of tartness, but I was also looking for the depth of flavour that comes from fully ripe fruit, so achieved that by roasting the apricots first with a little brown sugar and butter.  The brown sugar and butter more or less turned into caramel, and the apricots really intensified in flavour.  Then it was just a matter of blitzing the roasted apricots to a puree.  This is a really good way of preserving apricots for use in ice cream throughout the year - simply freeze the pureed fruit in a snaplock bag in batches ready to whip out any time you want to make ice cream.  You can also do the same thing with nectarines and peaches.

I hope you'll give this a go - it's pretty darn good.  If you fancy a little extra texture, you could try serving this with crumbled amaretti biscuits sprinkled over the top.  Don't have an ice cream machine - take my advice and invest in one - I promise you it will be worth it.  I shared this with my good friends, Cliff & Clare, who came to stay on the weekend - they were so smitten Cliff was thinking that he would get Clare an ice cream maker for her birthday!

Roasted Apricot Gelato Recipe
Makes approximately 1 litre
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

6x medium-large fresh apricots
brown sugar

6x large egg yolks, free range
1/2 cup sugar
325 ml (11 fl oz) milk
100 ml (3.5 fl oz) cream
1x vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).  Cut apricots in half - remove and discard the stones.  Place apricots cut side up in an ovenproof dish that is just big enough to fit them quite snugly.  Sprinkle each apricot half with a little brown sugar, and top each with a small knob of butter.

Roasted Apricot Gelato 1

Place in hot oven and roast until the apricots have softened and started to collapse, and the sugar and butter have merged with the oozing fruit juices to become almost the consistency of caramel sauce.

Roasted Apricot Gelato 2

This will take about 30 minutes, and it is helpful to baste the fruit with the juices half way through.  Allow to cool completely then, using a food processor or stick blender, blitz to a puree.

Place egg yolks in a medium bowl with half of the sugar, and whisk until pale.  Set aside.

Put the remaining sugar in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan, with the milk and cream.  Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds, adding both the seeds and the bean to the pan with the milk and cream.  Set pan over moderate heat and bring just to a boil.  Remove from heat immediately.

Now, whisking constantly, slowly pour about half of the milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture.  Then return all of this mixture to the remaining milk and cream in the saucepan - keep whisking constantly as you go.

Return pan to a low heat, and stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.  A good indication that it's ready is when all the frothy bubbles from the surface disappear.  Also the mixture will coat the back of a spoon, and when you run your finger through the mixture the edges of the mixture will not run back together.

Remove from the heat and immediately strain through a sieve into a clean bowl set over an ice bath.  Keep stirring until the mixture has cooled completely.

Now stir the cooled apricot puree into the custard, add the vanilla bean which was strained out back into the custard, and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Now remove the vanilla bean (do not throw away), and churn the custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Serve straight away or freeze for several hours to firm up.

Roasted Apricot Gelato 4

What to do with that vanilla bean?  There's plenty of flavour left in that bean so don't discard it.  Rinse thoroughly under cold water, then set on a paper towel on your kitchen window sill until dry.  Then put into your jar of caster sugar to have a constant supply of vanilla flavoured sugar.

This will be my submission to Sweet New Zealand, inspired by Alessandra Zecchini and hosted this month by the lovely Arfi at HomeMadeS.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sour Chickpeas (Khatte Chhole)

Sour Chickpeas

What with one thing and another over the "stupid season", I haven't managed for the last couple of weeks to join in with my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are cooking the food of Madhur Jaffrey.  Time now that all the busyness is out of the way to join back in.

Our theme this week is "Appetisers", and it seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe for Sour Chickpeas that I've had earmarked for sometime now.  These sour, spicy chickpeas are classic street snack food found all over northern India.  Madhur says, in her introduction to the recipe, "although Khatte Chhole are generally eaten as a snack in India, I serve them at my lunches and dinners, with vegetables, meats and rice".  I'm inclined to agree.  I enjoyed them as a bit of a snack served with some crisp triangles of toasted pita bread, but I liked them best over rice for a light lunch.

Now, you will have observed already that this dish suffers photographically from the DBFS (dreaded brown food syndrome), but trust me when I tell you that it tastes a lot better than it looks.  There is certainly plenty of spiciness in this dish, and the sourness (although I think initially somewhat foreign to European palates) works really well with the delightful nuttiness of some steamed Basmati rice.

Sour Chickpeas (Khatte Chhole) Recipe
Adapted slightly from recipe by Madhur Jaffrey from
Would serve 4-6 as a snack or accompaniment or
Serves 2-3 as a light meal
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

2 cups cooked chickpeas
(canned are fine, but if you cook your own save the cooking liquid)
2x shallots, peeled and very finely chopped
1x green chilli, finely chopped (deseed if you like less heat)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
juice of 1x lemon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1x large or 2x medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put one of the chopped shallots in a small bowl, together with the chopped chilli, grated ginger, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Mix together well and set aside.

Now heat oil in a heavy based, deep pan over medium heat.  Once oil has heated, add the remaining chopped shallot to the pan and fry, stirring from time to time, until the shallot becomes fragrant and begins to turn golden brown.  Add the chopped tomato and continue to cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato has "broken down", and has become like a thick sauce.  Add the coriander, cumin and turmeric, and stir to combine everything well.  Add the chickpeas to the pan, and stir to coat well with the spice and sauce mixture.  Now add 400 ml (14 fl oz) of water, or reserved chickpea cooking liquid if you have it.  Add the garam masala, cayenne pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Stir to combine, and then bring up to the boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the mixture of shallots, chilli, ginger and lemon juice.  Mix well and remove from heat.

Serve immediately, or cool to luke warm.  (I actually liked it best at room temperature).

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery

I'm sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace; at Gallery of Favourites hosted by the equally lovely April at The 21st Century Housewife and Alea at Premeditated Leftovers;  and at My Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Watermelon & Feta Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing

Watermelon & Feta Salad 1

Happy New Year everyone.  I love this time of year.  Of course, it's summer here in New Zealand, and what's not to love about that?  But, I also love that sense of new beginnings that accompany the season, and I can tell you, after the year that was last year, a new beginning is definitely called for.

I love too the profusion of summer produce, and can't get enough of fresh salads and light and healthy vegetable dishes right now.  This watermelon and feta salad, with its tangy preserved lemon dressing is one of my favourite salads, and one which I make many times over summer.  Its freshness and lightness is the perfect antidote after a couple of weeks of Christmas excesses, and it makes a great accompaniment for summer barbeques - though I'm happy to eat it as a meal on its own.

You don’t have to be fussy about quantities for this.  Just use a nice, large flat platter and just make as much as you need to satisfy however many mouths you are trying to feed.  Feel like ringing the changes - try using green olives instead of black (as I have done in these photos), or maybe a mixture of both;  chunks of avocado or toasted pine nuts make a nice addition;  some roasted shrimp are another nice addition if you want to make this into something a little more substantial.

Watermelon & Feta Salad 2

Watermelon & Feta Salad with Preserved Lemon Dressing Recipe
A rough guide for 4 people would be
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

watermelon (probably half a medium-sized melon)
2x lemons
block of feta
couple of handfuls of black olives (I like Kalamata olives)
1/2 preserved lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
drizzle of honey
salt & pepper

Heat a chargrill pan over very high heat.  Cut one lemon in half, and when pan is hot place lemon cut side down in the pan.  Cook until the cut surface of the lemon has taken on caramelised grill marks and the juice is beginning to flow.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Remove rind from watermelon and cut into large chunks - please yourself whether you choose to flick out the seeds or not.  Arrange watermelon chunks over large flat platter.

Sprinkle black olives evenly over the watermelon.

Now grate the zest of half of the remaining lemon and reserve.

Next prepare the dressing.  Place preserved lemon, olive oil, juice of the remaining lemon and a small drizzle of honey into a small blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.  Taste and season as necessary - note you may not need to add salt as the preserved lemon will be salty, but you may want to add some pepper and you may want to adjust the sweetness.

Place the feta in one large slab on top of the watermelon.  Drizzle the whole thing with the preserved lemon dressing, and sprinkle lemon zest over the top.  Serve with the chargrilled lemon halves on the side.

Fantastic served with a glass of chilled ouzo!

I'm sharing this post at Gallery of Favourites, hosted by my friend April at The 21st Century Housewife;  at See Ya In the Gumbo, hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace;  at Foodie Friday, hosted by Designs by Gollum; and at My Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory

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