Charles Dowding’s no-dig Lower Farm on a hot Sunday in August was a perfect place to visit and dream about growing beautiful and happy vegetables.
Azélia of Azeilas Kitchen really made me laugh recently on Twitter, she was talking about wholesome breads and wearing stick-on beards and socks and sandals and I thought about the bread I had just made and it fits that category to perfection.
I haven’t worn facial hair since I rode a pushbike through the streets in a Groucho Marx mask one night from one party to another, but I have had the pleasure at least and I urge you to do it one day if you haven’t.
I started with what I had in the kitchen; sprouted pulses and some walnuts left over from Christmas. I have dug out my sprouting jar recently, thanks to the reminder from the 52 week salad challenge so I thought I would post this as my February contribution, as the frost has got hold of the last of the wintering vegetables and herbs in the garden this month. Edit: I have just found the round up page on VP’s blog for the last one. Have a look and join in. Lots of wonderful info on growing micro greens that I am going to read up on right now….
I wonder if children do sprouting in schools now as we did? Even if you don’t take much interest in growing your own food in your teenage and young adult years, if you have had these experiences as a child, they are something to draw upon later in life when maybe you have more time to garden and participate in the great elemental joy of growing some of your own food.
This loaf used sweet walnut pieces, our home grown sprouts, thick yoghurt, water, Felin Ganol flours, yeast and seasalt. I need to make it again before I can be sure I have got the numbers right, I scribbled them down on a piece of paper and they looked a bit odd when I came to write them up here.
We had slices of this soft and nutty bread with cottage cheese, some mung bean sprouts and a sprinkling of za’atar, a mix of thyme, sumac, salt and sesame seeds. Can’t get much nicer than that in my book and in fact it’s all gone now, every last little bit!
Sprouted grains are lovely too just dressed with a simple dressing of lemon, oil and mustard as part of a salad with a toasted bun. I think they have a great affinity with nuts, so mix them up with pine nuts, or walnuts or whatever you have around.
Mitchdafish has just tweeted me this picture….(she had a chunk of this loaf to try at home) …. hee hee!
For Ruth a speed blog post – I made a batch of squishy soft dough today with 200 grams of bubbly sourdough starter, probably about 150% hydration but I can’t be sure as it was all a bit random.
I used more or less:
I don’t know quite what I had in mind but when I came to shape it, the dough didn’t want to be a boule, it sighed a lot, it flopped and said, ‘I can’t hold this form, don’t ask it of me.’ My dough often says that and rather than create one of those low profiled boules for the umpteenth time –
– I rolled it out and cut it into pieces (remembering the muffins we made the other week) and left them to prove for about three hours and cooked them in the same fashion as those. Fried on a not too hot dry steel pan for about 3 to 4 minutes each side, with a wok lid over the top to keep the steam in and then into the oven at 180-190 C to finish baking for another 10 – 12 minutes, depending on size. They needed a longer time in the oven than the muffins and weren’t as fabulously light as those were, I reckon the egg is the secret ingredient that gives those muffins lift and softens the crumb. So if you have a go at this, add an egg in there.
With the left over dough I made some plain flat breads which we had with minestrone at lunch time, they were pretty good.
Later on I had a wander round the garden to see if I could forage a salad to go in the ugly buns with some cold chicken for a light supper.
I attempted very small snail (half a little fingernail) photography, they move surprisingly fast and this was the best of ten shots…
I couldn’t quite face eating the overwintered chard in its raw state, even though I picked the smallest leaves they were still too chewy for me.
So I hope this counts as an attempt at the 52 week salad challenge for January. I haven’t sown any new seeds yet so I am going to have to work a bit harder if I am joining in next month! To find out all about the challenge visit Michelle at Veg Plotting.
I confess it was a ‘warm salad’ in the end, OK it was a stir-fry ( I cannot tell a lie when it comes to food blogging) but it had nothing in it that didn’t grow in the garden!
I have no polytunnel and no greenhouse so all these are just growing outside higgledy piggledy, more by accident than by design that they were there for me this afternoon. I have seen lots of chives, or wild onion grass growing locally but I didn’t pick any today.
In the garden I found and picked:-
The buns looked very ugly…
– a bit like squashed overripe Camembert pretending to be bread, but they tasted good when we ate them stuffed with cold chicken, warm stir fried garden gleanings and a dollop of Farringdons Gold Mayonnaise.
These two final pics are from the iPad camera so not that good but you get the general idea…
At the moment we are lucky to be able to get my favourite sort of celery, the old fashioned varieties which are mainly grown in East Anglia with its deep fertile peat soil.
It is a labour intensive business to grow as it has to be earthed up in order to blanch the stems and to develop the distinctive flavour that makes it special. It has a sweet nutty, almost almondy taste and it is very good. It’s around now, so keep an eye out for it if you are in the UK. This is my attempt to use seasonal food in my bread for this month anyway! Continue reading
Hasselback potatoes were my all time favourite potato as a child. The name was exotic, from the restaurant in Stockholm where they originated. Crunchy edged slivers of silky, moist potato which could be delicately peeled back one sliver at a time and nibbled systematically. They didn’t appear very often on the table, but when they did I was always very happy to see them. Something like a packet of crisps in sautée form or maybe the potato equivalent of After Eights.
I have tried to make them over the years, but usually ended up getting very sad as I lost concentration and cut all the way through the potatoes and ruined them; over and over. I haven’t made them now for about ten years. I saw on a Swedish website that you could buy a special board to sit the potatoes in to do the cutting but thought it was just a bit crazy to order them. So I had stopped thinking about them and, like Eyore, gave up on trying as I felt incompetent every time I tried.
However I was reading the lovely Everybodylikessandwiches blog recently and – guess what (Tigger bounces back) – she gives a genius solution to the Hasselback cutting problem – I love her so very much for that. I don’t think she knows how much I love her. So here they are as done by me tonight. What’s the secret?
So I did it and they were perfect and I am so happy.I quckly peeled three big potatoes, and positioned them between two chopsticks on a board with a non slip bit of matting underneath and sliced down as thinly as I could for the best paper leaf effect. The photo above makes it look as if they are cut quite wide apart but the slices don’t really open up until they are in the oven; go as thin as you can manage. The chopsticks neatly stop you going all the way through. As I said – Genius !
I layered mine with pink sea salt and multi coloured pepper corns and shreds of bay leaf from the garden and cooked them in duck fat, you don’t need very much. I roasted them for about 45 minutes at 175 º C, spooning the fat over a couple of times during that period, till they started to get that lovely colour and open up like a fan.
They are, if I may be permitted to say, completely fabulous, far less greasy than full on roasties, and very, very special.
Get your chopsticks out and make Hasselbacks! Lots of different ways to season them so let your imagination run riot. They’re all good. Always!
I love chutney! A rich combination of autumn fruits, dried fruits and vegetables simmered for hours in a mixture of muscovado sugar and cider vinegar, seasoned with spices and root ginger is one of my favourite things to make. It takes far longer than jam, but is much less stressful, none of this pectin testing and no chilled saucers. Continue reading
V is for… Vegetable Pie
Summer time and the garden and my friends’ allotments and patches spill over with vegetables; there is a constant exchange of green beans, lettuces and handfuls of fresh spinach, little potatoes and all sorts.