Category Archives: Blogging

Rocoto – Capiscum Pubescens – the hairy chilli from South America

RocotoThis rather gorgeous chilli plant is known in Peru as rocoto. Sometimes it is called the hairy chilli, think of a pubescent boy! And Wiki tells me it will have black seeds which distinguish it from other species of chilli. Thanks to Rhizowen for confirming the id too!

It will overwinter providing it is protected from frost and its stems become woody, so it is also sometimes called a tree chilli and can live up to 15 years!

Neil and Jo were lucky enough to be gifted a two year old plant by Henleaze Garden Shop  for Blaise Community Garden – HGS is an independent garden centre where the owner and  family grow all sorts of unusual plants in their greenhouses , sharing Neil’s chilli passion – at the back of the shop – and thus are able to offer something different to their customers as well as the stock that comes in from nurseries. Henleaze Garden Shop is next to the Tesco garage on Henleaze High Street and always worth a visit as it is packed with plants and is a genuine local family business.

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The Blaise plant is being lovingly tended by Neil in Greenhouse 1 and at the moment is flowering and setting fruit. When fully ripe the fruit will be red and resemble a small bell pepper. Jo has been told it is a hot chilli with a short burst of heat! Can’t wait to try it!

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From Wikipedia :

Like all other species of the genus Capsicum, plants of the species Capsicum pubescens grow as a shrub, but sometimes as climbing plants. They grow into four-meter woody plants relatively quickly, and live up to 15 years, which gives them, especially with age, an almost tree-like appearance.[10] After a first impulse is formed, the plant branches at a height of about 30 cm for the first time, and forms during growth by further dividing into a bushy appearance. More shoots develop from the leaf axils. Some varieties have purple discoloration on the branches, as can be observed in other Capsicums pecies. The leaves have a 5–12 mm long petiole and a leaf blade ovate to 5–12 cm long, 2.5 to 4 cm wide, tapering at the top and the base is wedge-shaped.[11]

In addition to the relatively long life, Capsicum pubescens differs in many other characteristics from related species.

Flowers

The flowers appear singly or in pairs (rarely up to four) on the shoots, and the branches are at about 1 cm long flower stems, which extend on the fruit to around 4–5 cm. The calyx has five triangular pointed teeth, which have in the fruit a length of about 1 mm. A characteristic different from other cultivated species of the genus Capsicum is the blue-violet-colored petals, brighter in the centre. The anthers are partly purple, partly white.[7]

PS  I found this on the Scoville Scale ( I am growing Anaheim at home this year because I am a wimp!)

Image result for rocoto wiki

Joanna Baron July 2017

Ham Hock and Kale Soup

IMG_0447.JPGOn Saturday we made soup. It was a joint effort. I stared out into the garden (it was a cold day inside and out as misted window panes were being finally replaced and so it was like living in a barn as the saying goes)  and noticed that there was still a small cluster of dwarf kale plants in the raised bed. Continue reading

Growing and Eating Salsola Agretti (aka Salsola Soda)

In which a post mysteriously appears on my old blog, slightly obsessive in detail but that’s me!

salsola agretti steamed

Salsola agretti, opposite leaved saltwort, Friars Beard is a joy of a vegetable to discover if you are like me, always looking over the fence – in this case the internet fence  – and seeing what people eat in other countries. I don’t think I could ever fit a rice paddy in my suburban garden and I don’t really have space for growing melons and other ground hungry plants much as I would love to try, but this plant, which kept appearing here and there on my Instagram feed, really took my fancy so I tracked down some seed and read as much as I could and looked for photos and based on what I found I had a go at growing it last year. I have to say I love it. Continue reading

Bits and pieces : kitchen and garden

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This is the noonday sun on the last day in August.  Today is the first of September, the beginning of the new year in my head.

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In my kitchen there is a box of meringue fingers studded with toasted hazelnuts from Normandy – a gift to Brian from my sister, Brian likes them crumbled up on top of fresh fruit with yoghurt as a dessert.

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And there were also some very useful indeed sachets of yoghurt starter enzymes (another thoughtful gift from my sister)  for when your old home made yoghurt has gone a bit beyond being used to seed a new batch. Still wondering why no one in the UK stocks these. Lakeland stock EasiYo, all the way from the Antipodes but not these made in Europe. Funny old world….

asier gurk pickle

Pickled Danish cucumber, the asie gurk, from seed sent me by the lovely Misky,  grown by me outdoors here at home in pots with local manure to help them along, peeled and brined and made according to this recipe  and then lovingly waterbath processed by Brian. I don’t think I would make them without his help as I don’t like handling hot jars, damp with boiling steam from the oven.

I use the pickle juice to thin down our current salad dressing, which is a tsp of dijon mustard mixed in a little home made yoghurt and does a very good impression of a mayonnaise with no oil worked into it. The cucumbers are a joy and a delight and much nicer (variety name : the Langelands Giant) than many of the other varieties I have sampled this year. So many cucumbers are full of seeds and surprisingly bitter, these ones have always been sweet and crisp.

I left a tray of my own home saved angelica seed at the Community Garden at Blaise, where I do a bit of volunteering,  hoping it would germinate and the magic of the place has made it happen already. It is supposed to need a period of cold before coming up and this has taught me that books are not always right.

IMG_6992 I was delighted! I suspect not many people have the patience to grow it, it can take up to three years to get stems large enough to candy, or even that much interest in candying and eating it I got there this year having waited patiently for several years and felt great personal satisfaction and one of these days will make some buns or some icecream and use the angelica I candied at home.

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Angelica archangelica coming into flower earlier this year.

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Candied stems drying, they will keep for ages now.

If you want to know how to do it, you could pop over to my acquaintance Dan at the Apothecary’s Garden as I learnt the basics from him.

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Here is my little old mushrooming basket, given to me by my dear friend Hazel, who passed away many years ago now, I remember her when I pick it up and carry it with me, as I carry her in my heart always. Here it is filled with tomatoes and herbs and some wild blackberries, calendula flowers and cucumbers, and a fairy lights chilli plant coming home from Blaise Community Garden.

 

Apples are falling off the tree before ripening for some reason and the pear tree has long spindly branches and too many pears so I took a whole lot off the other day and bottled them and hope the pear tree won’t break too many more of its branches. I need to get a lesson from someone in pruning.

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A squirrel has had most of the nuts off the red hazel but has left me a symbolic handful

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and here is the eternal game being played out by my hairy friends and companions, another good prompt to get out of the house and breathe fresh air.

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Life is an Upside Down Paddling Pool

Zeb in the Pool

Did you ever read a book called “There must be a Pony!” by Jim Kirkwood? This is Zeb the dog’s version of the moral of that story. We turned his paddling pool upside down because it was full of slime and leaves and needed emptying out and left it on the grass. He came back from being clipped and rushed out with his squeaky toy to play in it. When he realised there was no water in it and it was upside down, he jumped in anyway and proceeded to roll his ball up and down the sloping sides. A very fine game and a good life lesson about being flexible and having fun when and where you can and not taking yourself too seriously –  playing in an upside down paddling pool is maybe as good as it gets.

Kefir Rimacinata Bread

Kefir Rimacinata Bread I was invited to join in a post by Karin recently to create ‘a bread worthy of Götz von Berlichingen, the Knight With the Iron Hand’. and so far I have come up with a Kefir Rimacinata Bread – which might just have a bit more bite and oomph and hopefully would appeal to such a forceful character.

I made this bread using the milk kefir variety of levain as per the formula below, (if anyone using BreadStorm wants the .bun file please let me know in the comments and I will email it to the email address you use to comment with, as I have now purchased the desktop version of the software as I like it so much).  One could easily use yoghurt and yeast instead and leave out the date syrup if not using the milk kefir.

crumbshotIt yields a warm and lightly lactic sour golden loaf with a soft and slightly chewy crumb and a nice thin crust with a bit of bite to it. Excellent with marmalade, Swedish fish paste or almond butter, just as it is without toasting –  and I am sure you could slap a couple of slices together with some mortadella, Black Forest Ham or cheese from the breakfast table and pop it in your chain mail pouch as you go off to pillage somewhere,  or sling it in your saddlebag for a horseback sandwich as you gallop down dappled country lanes – it is a reasonably robust loaf.

If I get a chance I will make a yeasted version of the dough and put it in a pullman and see how it works as a pullman loaf for square sandwiches and toast, but I quite like miche profile sandwiches these days !

A note on the flour and some links that might be useful if you haven’t come across this flour before:-

When I was doing the Mellow Bakers project I went on a quest and found the flour In Bristol, imported and always stocked by Licatas in Picton Street. I made my version of a Semolina Rimacinata Loaf then with toasted sesame seeds and sesame seed crust and the quality of the crumb made me think this is a bread for Götz’s breakfast, not as fluffy as a traditional white sandwich loaf but not as heavy and hearty as a full-on multi grain bread.

This particular flour is not that easy to get hold of because it is an import. Celia @ Figjam and Lime Cordial is also very fond of this flour and regularly uses it in her baking. Sally has used it very successfully too, have a look at the Bewitching Kitchen’s Semolina Sourdough Boule.

Euan, aka signor biscotti, writes about the differences between semola di grano duro rimacinata and the semolina sold in the shops in the UK and demonstrates that you can make a lovely bread using pudding semolina in Pudding Semolina Bread on his blog and writes eloquently about the confusion surrounding the word semolina, as he says the word semolina  ‘…is used to refer to a number of different things’.

However, I had a quick look this morning and found this brand  Divella Semola Rimacinata  online from Matta’s International Foods; there may well be other online stockists and suppliers or if you have an Italian Delicatessen in your town or city, it is always worth asking them or as Euan suggests, have a go with the semolina you can buy in the supermarket!

Guten Appetit Herr Götz! Hoffentlich haben Sie etwas Leckeres zum Frühstück von Karin und ihren Freunden gefunden! (my school German attempt at saying, ‘Hope you find something tasty for your breakfast Mr Götz from Karin and her friends’)

 

Kefir Bread with Semola Grano Duro Rimacinata (weights)

 

Method

  • Make a  kefir based levain as per formula above with flour, kefir, water and date syrup. You can make a kefir preferment without added sugar but it takes longer to ferment and is not as vigorous. Optionally add a spike of dried active yeast to speed everything up.
  • Mix the levain 18-24 hours before preparing the final dough.
  • The preferment should be  bubbling vigorously at the ideal point to mix the final dough  but can be mixed successfully if it has started to separate providing it still looks bubbly and not a pool of slithery gunk. Use your nose and your judgement on this!

Dough mixing notes:

  • Mix final dough using a stand mixer or by hand. These notes are for mixing with a stand mixer:-
  • Melt and allow butter to cool.
  • Use room temperature water to mix dough unless you are planning to retard the dough after mixing in which case cooler water is appropriate.
  • Mix levain and water together first. Hold back 50g of the water to start with.
  • Mix the flours together before adding to the dough if you remember.
  • Mix on slow speed till no visible flour is left and the mixture looks sticky and is beginning to come away from the sides of the bowl.  If it forms a big lump round the dough hook, add extra water.
  • Leave for 15 minutes for the flour to absorb all the water and start to develop. If it looks very tight, add up to 50 ml more water
  • Sprinkle salt on the top of the dough and mix in at low speed.
  • Dribble the melted butter in and mix till incorporated.
  • Turn dough out and check that is is quite soft and beginning to develop.
  • Place in a bowl and cover.
  • Prove for  2.5-4 hours depending on room temperature. I stretch and fold the dough twice during this time.
  • When dough has increased in volume by about half and shows good aeration on cutting, scale and shape as required.
  • The final prove is quite slow if you are relying on the milk kefir alone to raise the dough. On a warm afternoon it needed another four hours or so before it was ready to bake.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven with steam at 220 C for about 40 minutes and reduce the oven temperature  by 10 degrees or so for another 20 minutes of the bake if you are baking a large loaf like this.

 

 

In My Kitchen March 2014

Sunrise with Pigeon

Sunrise with Pigeon

Here we go, I have a collection of stuff to share and what better place to put it than in Celia’s In My Kitchen series? Visit Fig Jam and Lime Cordial and join in by the 10th of the month, any month and have some fun seeing what everyone is sharing.

At the moment  it is not sunrise but the evening of the last day in February, there is the lingering smell of fried haddock in batter and chips from the Fish and Chip shop on Henleaze High Street, next to the Post Office and the Garden Centre. But you will have to imagine that… suffice it to say it has no particular health benefits but is quite delicious and as the temperature dropped to a miserable 4 C today plus windchill I felt it was a perfect supper, as if I need an excuse!

Pot Stickers Steaming and Rattling on the Hob!

Pot Stickers Steaming and Rattling on the Hob!

Is that a crispy bottom I see before me?

Is that a crispy bottom I see before me?

Other delights on the kitchen table have included my first attempts at pot stickers and wontons – I can’t think what inspired me to make these? Maybe something to do with a certain Sydneysider… and the fact that we have a fantastic Chinese supermarket in Eastville where you can buy dumpling wrappers and fresh won ton skins, Jimmy’s satay sauce, fresh choy, tofu, Chinese vegetables, mysterious things lurking in freezers and more.  The supermarket even tweets as @WaiYeeHong and does online orders, so it is a treasure trove of good things. We are quite spoilt in Bristol.

I could get into this making dumplings lark...

I could get into this making dumplings and wontons  lark, Celia is right, it’s very soothing…

Pork and ginger wontons in broth with choy and spring onions

Pork and ginger wontons in broth with choy and spring onions

I also attempted Fran @ TheRoadtoSerendipity‘s breakfast, on the principle that one should try everything at least once (maybe not tripe but you know what I mean)  I thought maybe if I eat her breakfast I too will be full of get up and go and zing and maybe find myself on a beach in Tasmania, magical thinking, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis etc etc … so the other morning I ground up buckwheat and turned it into porridge, dolloped tahini and date syrup and some dates on top and ate the whole bowlful. I stopped half way through and added salt. Not sure why, but there you go.  I have to say, I zinged around all day and felt most loving towards humanity and not at all hungry until at least 3 pm. On the minus side it was a bit too like school semolina in texture, though I did enjoy the taste, so I think I will move on to buckwheat granola production to use up the rest of the bag of buckwheat.

Buckwheaty goodness and dates and stuff

Buckwheaty goodness and dates and stuff

I made two small batches of marmalade. Each year I follow a different recipe, it kind of makes it a bit more interesting. This year I used Vivien Lloyd‘s crystal clear instructions to produce a very clear set marmalade. Looks very smart! I bought her e-book and also watched her video on YouTube and asked her questions on Twitter too!

Organic Sevilles which my local veg box from Leigh Court Farm added into my box on request

Organic Sevilles which my local veg box from Leigh Court Farm added into my box on request

Seville Marmalade made to a Viv Lloyd recipe

Two different recipes of Vivien Lloyd’s here, the one on the right has a little molasses in and a chunkier cut. It isn’t quite dark enough for Brian’s tastes, who likes that Oxford Style made with lots of brown sugar.

For those of you who like fancy salts and peppers, I have to confess I have got through one jar of this espelette blend from M&S and gone back for a second. It goes very well on kale chips – (I know it is a bit last year to like kale chips, but I am often at least five years behind the trends, slow but steady, that’s me).

I was sent some special lemons and a jar of quince jam from Carla’s trees in Rome and you can see them peeking out here along with a jar of kefir lurking in the background.

Espelette

I have a other few gifts to show you as well.

Fans of QI and Stephen Fry may know what these are. I was sent these as a thankyou for doing some editorial work for an old friend. They are very handsome but I think I need a party of people to help me empty one of those bowls as they are quite substantial.

Everything you need for mate tea

Everything you need for mate tea

Here is a beautiful old brioche tin from my friend Elaine, who goes to France on her holidays most years and found this for me. I am going to make brioche in it very soon but at the moment I just enjoy looking at it!

Antique Brioche tin

then there is a little round of creamy kefir cheese, made from St Helen’s Fullfat Goat’s Milk and sea salt. St Helen’s Goat’s milk is my milk of choice these days, it is mild and ‘ungoaty’ in flavour and I use it in preference to cow’s milk, particularly for kefir. It makes perfect little cheese rounds as you can see.

Goats Milk Kefir Cheese

I made ful medames loosely following Hodmedod’s recipe, though I used less sugar, and using their dried English grown fava beans.  I haven’t tried their cooked range as yet. They also have split fava beans with no skins, perfect for making falafel. They are a wonderful new company and I hope they do really well. Part of food security for any country is growing our own food and this company grows all its beans and peas here in the UK.

Ful medames a la Hodmedod

Here is a mystery photo of something in my kitchen reflecting the outside world, you might know what it is …

Can you figure out what this is?

Can you figure out what this is?

I was only going to spend half an hour doing this and time is ticking away so I am going to retire downstairs to the sofa and grab a cup of tea and an ultra healthy oaty bar from the freezer. These are based on Carl’s recipe for his son which you can find here and they are very wholesome indeed, having no added sugar (I don’t count the dark chocolate Callebaut chips) and no fat at all. I polish my halo every time I eat one !

It’s been fun doing this, i don’t normally namecheck so many companies and businesses, but once in a while it is OK I hope. Anyway you don’t have to click on the links, just thought if you were interested you can find out a bit more if I put them in.

I hope you find something you like here and don’t forget to visit Celia’s blog and see all the other kitchens this month!

Carl Energy Bar

PS In my rush to get my tea I forgot these two images that I really wanted to put in the post, so bad form I know to add after publication but here goes…

From Emily Sincerely I got this surprise handmade card  for Valentine’s Day this week !

Thank you Emily! xx

Thank you Emily! xx

and this is what it had inside … I think she (and Proust!) are spot on!

Beautiful Quote from Proust